A Musical Journey: Brixen (Italy) and Innsbruck (Austria)
1-4 Neustift Monastery, Brixen, Southern Tyrol
5 Innsbruck
6 Helbling House, Innsbruck
7 House with the Golden Roof, Innsbruck
8 Innsbruck
9 Alpine Zoo, Innsbruck
10 Wilten Collegiate Church, Innsbruck
11 Wilten Basilica, Innsbruck
To music by Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART: Symphonies 40 (1787) and 28 (1774) from Naxos 8.550164 and Overtures: Il re pastore, The Abduction from the Seraglio and La clemenza di Tito from Naxos 8.550185
Capella Istropolitana/Barry Wordsworth
rec. 1990 (sound) and 2010 (vision)
DVD 4:3 aspect ratio; NTSC no regional coding; DTS 5.1 / Dolby Digital 5.1 / PCM Stereo 2 [DTS surround sound]
NAXOS 2.110245 [57:49]

This DVD is described as ‘a musical journey’ and as such would seem appropriate for tourists planning a visit to these areas. On the other hand the locations are few and the imagery is very strongly focused. This point aside, the presentation does provide an hour of excellent music well recorded by Barry Wordsworth and the Capella Istropolitana accompanying good visual backdrops.

I had expected this series to offer a more superficial wide-ranging coverage of the areas mentioned and an explanation of their relevance to Mozart. Yet there is rather a lot of in-depth treatment of the locations and with this in mind the single opening location of a monastery for a whole symphony seems to immediately narrow the scope of the video. It makes me wonder if this approach is the most satisfactory as no captions can be switched on to indicate exactly what one is looking at in the many friezes, frescos and paintings being admired. That said, the opening chapters of the monastery are excellent. Sumptuous images are plentiful and elegantly paraded in front of the viewer. However, I should have further information beyond that provided in Keith Anderson’s clear notes. The detail needs to be explained and it would have been interesting to know who the artists were. Certainly the relevance to Mozart is likely to be at the forefront of people’s minds. A chapter at Innsbruck showing the town is perhaps too short and that of the House with the Golden Roof too long. Interesting and beautiful as the facade is, the detail is insufficient to occupy attention for such a long sequence. I was longing for the inclusion of cutaways perhaps of local people going about their daily business.

The quality of camerawork is exceptionally good throughout with nice tracking shots. It has been carefully videoed by Hans-Toni Aschwanden. The cutting of shots is loosely synchronized to the rhythm of the music, but crescendos on the soundtrack are never related appropriately to visual zoom-ins. A chapter at the Alpine Zoo brought a welcome diversion with its high quality close-up footage of ducks and wading birds feeding. But since a zoo contains more than birds it might have been helpful to see other animals in their setting? A variety of subject matter is always welcome. Don’t let the 4:3 Academy screen ratio deter wide-screen enthusiasts: it is far more relevant to have appealing images of good composition as we have here. The soundtrack offers three choices of sound system including surround sound.

Raymond J Walker

Good performance linked to crisp and well defined video