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Credo - John Paul II
Ave Verum Corpus, K. 618 - Mozart
Ave Maria - Caccini/Mercurio
Sancta Maria - Mascagni, arr. Mercurio
Ave Maria (arr. from Bach´s Prelude No.1 Bwv846)
Panis Angelicus - Franck, orch. Michelot
Domine Deus (Petite Messe Solennelle-Gloria) - Rossini
Pietà, Signore - Niedermeyer, arr. Reynolds
Gloria a Te, Cristo Gesù - (The Hymns of Great Jubilee)
Proteggimi orch. Serio/ Sartori - F. Sartori/L. Quarantotto
Frondi Tenere ...Ombra Mai Fu (Serse/ Act 1) - Handel
Mille Cherubini in Coro - Schubert, arr Mercurio
Ingemisco (Messa da Requiem) - Verdi
Ave Maria "Ellens Gesang III, D 839 - Schubert, orch. Weingartner
Agnus Dei - Bizet, arr. Guiraud
Cujus Animam Gementem (Stabat Mater) - Rossini
I Believe - Eric Levi
From: Meditations on the Genesis on the threshold of the Sistine Chapel by John Paul II
The Nativity
Adeste Fideles (O Come, All Ye Faithful) - Trad. arr. Mercurio
Andrea Bocelli Live in Tor Vergata 2000

Ave Maria – Schubert
Andrea Bocelli (tenor)
Orchestra and Choir of Santa Cecilia National Academy/Myung-Whun Chung
Alberto Michelini Elenco (director)
Picture format: PAL 4:3
Audio Format: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
WARNER DVD 2564 63367-2 [63:00]

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Whatever your religion, there is no denying that John Paul II was an extremely powerful and enduring figure. There will be many who grew up knowing only him as the head of the Catholic Church, and as a result the effect of his death was devastating. Credo is a film compiled from documentary scenes taken from the Pope’s life, and at some of the rituals surrounding his funeral. The opening alternates a little disconcertingly between the living pope, and his body being transported through the Vatican, and lying in state as crowds of tearful mourners pay their last respects. There is no commentary as such: John Paul II’s voice, more often than not with English subtitles, comes through now and again with significant statements. Like the scenes which have been selected, these are very much the positive highlights of the pope’s long and illustrious reign. These dropped-in moments of speech and occasional ambient sounds - applause for instance - relegate the music to the background at times.

The musical programme is a collection of hymns and sacred music. Andrea Bocelli has his own large following, and so anything I say will have little effect on those for whom he can do no wrong. I find his rather hard and unyielding vocal tone, with its seemingly complete lack of variety in colour, extremely trying. Just taking one of the extra tracks, ‘The Nativity’ in which he sings ‘Adeste Fideles’ (Oh Come, all ye Faithful), there is no change between that and anything on the main feature – more, more, and more of the same. Even if it had been ‘Silent Night’ I can’t imagine there being any change.

That said the cumulative effect during the ‘Credo’ film depends very much on your point of view. It is either an inspirational, spiritually uplifting record of an enduring icon for our times, or sentimental, saccharine sweet Catholic propaganda. At the very least the film gives you the feeling that you were ‘there’. Many of the shots are of crowds, the camera inevitably selecting the most dramatic moments of grief, or transports of joy, ecstasy, or silent and concentrated prayer. The subtitles are not always entirely idiomatic, with translations like "…the same Christ whom once, saw a poor and loved him!" Sound quality is reasonably good for the main film, but the extra features leave much to be desired. The ‘Meditations’ are John Paul II’s words on Michelangelo’s paintings of the Sistine Chapel; accompanied by a dreadful Richard Clayderman style piano track. Both this and ‘The Nativity’ have some kind of nasty compression, like badly calibrated Dbx noise reduction. ‘Andrea Bocelli live on stage’ is his open-air performance before the pope in Tor Vergata in 2000. Sound quality at such a venue might not be expected to be wonderful, and the harp dopes sound a little overblown and clunky in the opening. With a slightly dodgy moment on Bocelli’s grand rubato toward the end of the piece, one feels that at least one extra rehearsal might have helped, and neither he, Chung or John Paul look all that comfortable.

Please don’t take all my negative vibes on this DVD too much to heart. If you are looking for a tastefully compiled reminder of John Paul II’s long and influential career accompanied by appropriate and movingly performed sacred vocal music than you need look no further. Most of the unforgettable images and moments are there: meetings with world leaders, kissing airport runways, waving from the Pope-mobile – if like me you spent most of your formative years with him in your life, he really does seem irreplaceable, even now.

Dominy Clements


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