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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Salzburg: A Musical Tour of the City of Mozart
Overture to Così fan tutte K 588
Adagio, from Flute Quartet in D major K 258
German Dance, K 605, No.3
Romanza, from Piano Concerto No.21 in C major, K 467
Gigue in G major for Organ, K 574
Allegro con brio, from Symphony No.25 in G minor, K 183
Rondo-Tempo di menuetto, from Bassoon concerto, K 191
Maestoso from March in D major, K 429
Allegro, from Serenade in D major, K 185
Lacrimosa dies illa, from the Requiem, K 626
Allegro, from Divertimento in F major, K 138
No details of performers or recording details are given.
DDD. DTS Surround Sound 5.1. No region coding.
NAXOS DVD 2.110517 [55:40]

 



Over the last fifteen years or so I have been fortunate enough to go to Salzburg almost every year, attending academic conferences. I have a number of good friends there. As a result, I have come to know the city tolerably well, and it was certainly a pleasure, watching this DVD, directed by Hans Toni Aschwanden and Roland Boss, to see many places I knew well - and one or two that I didn’t. I’m not sure, though, that my pleasure was very much enhanced by a soundtrack largely made up of movements (or part movements) from works by Mozart.

Aschwanden and Boss are pretty straightforward and traditional in their presentation of images of Salzburg and its area. There is no gimmickry or fancy camera work. There are some beautifully atmospheric shots of mountain landscapes and some fine panoramic views of the city. There are good interior images of the Mozart birthplace and the restored Mozart House in Makartplatz. When it comes to sections on the Residenz Palace and on St. Peter’s Church and the Cathedral, a bit more detailed attention to the works of art they contain wouldn’t have gone amiss.

The DVD contains the information ‘Published 1993’. I think this must refer to the film. The music is, I presume, taken from the Naxos catalogue, and most of it therefore certainly postdates 1993. The music has been chosen with reference to prexisting film, it would seem, so that visual image and sound track are not in any sense organically related, or part of the same creative act. At times the match works pretty well. The adagio from the Clarinet Concerto, for example, seems fitting when heard against images of a snow covered Salzburg. The rondo from the Bassoon Concert provides an apt accompaniment to images of the bizarre waterworks and mechanical theatre of Hellbrunn Palace. But much more thought might profitably have gone into this side of the exercise. When, for example, showing us the interior of the Residenz Palace, we might have been listening to music originally performed there, rather than the March from the Haffner serenade. Given the huge range of Mozartian possibilities it is odd that when looking at delightful pictures of the Mirabell Gardens, populated by playful children and marble dwarfs, we should be listening to music Mozart wrote in Mannheim (a sadly truncated version of the adagio from the Flute Quartet in D major).

There are one or two particular ‘tourist’ pleasures that are sadly missing. The Franziskaner-Kirche is one of the great Austrian churches and it is a pity that room couldn’t be found for any shots of its lovely interior. We are treated to a brief visit to the lake at  St. Wolfgang – of White Horse Inn fame. A pity, though, that we don’t get evn a glimpse inside the Church of St. Wolfgang with its amazing late-Gothic triptych by Michael Pacher. And wouldn’t the Marionette Theatre have made for some good footage – with suitable operatic soundtrack that could actually be matched precisely to the visual images? By way of compensation, the very last section of the film (it is fivided into twelve ‘Chapters’) is set in the Leopoldskron Palace, new to me and not readily accessible, being now the property of Harvard University. Its eighteenth century library looks gorgeous. 

I have no wish to be priggish about the use of Mozart’s work as ‘background’ to a documentary film. There is no spoken commentary, so that the music isn’t treated to any disrespectful fading out behind a narrator’s voice. If the Romanza from K 467 has survived Elvira Madigan, it will surely survive being used behind images of Mozart’s birthplace.

So, a pleasant enough experience. But so much more could be done with this idea.

Glyn Pursglove

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