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