A Musical Journey - Spain - A Musical Tour of Seville
Music by Bizet (Carmen Suites) and Granados (Spanish Dances).
Slovak State Symphony Orchestra/Anthony Bramall.(Naxos 8.550061) and Peter Breiner with Gerald Garcia (guitar) (Naxos 8.571057)
No recording dates or venues given
DVD Director: G Gachot
Cameraman: H T Aschwanden
Audio Format: DTS 5.1. Dolby Digital 5.1. PCM Stereo 2.0
Video Format: NTSC. Colour. 4:3 Region 0. Colour. Aspect ratio 4:3
Full Chapter List at end of review
NAXOS DVD 2.110543 [54.21] 

Seville had a history long before Rossini and Bizet fastened onto it in their operas Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Carmen. In historical times it was the capital of Andalucía, an Iberian settlement during the period of Roman domination. After the Moorish conquest of the 8th century it was part of the Caliphate of Córdoba. It retained its importance under other Moorish rulers until it was brought back under Spanish rule, by conquest by Fernando III in 1248. The modern city retains, just as does Granada and other principal Spanish centres, many signs of its Moorish past.
The DVD opens with views of the empty Maestranza Arena, used for bullfighting, to the music of the prelude from Bizet’s Carmen Suite No. 1. The music from that suite dominates the first six Chapters before conceding to the Second Suite and, later, (CHs 13-15) Spanish Dances by Granados with guitar accompaniment. The landscape of CH. 2 incorporates pictures of black bulls in fields. It is a pity that there are none on show, not necessarily in a corrida as I recognise some would find this distasteful, but at least arriving in the arena. This would have given more atmosphere to CHs 6 and 10; perhaps a matador rehearsing his moves and a toreador dressing in the various layers of his finery. As it is, although not as large as those in Madrid and Barcelona, the arena does look somewhat bleak in its emptiness. The training of the horses in the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art to the music of the Garde Montant from the Second Suite is also apposite.
The views of the Cathedral, originally a Mosque in Moorish times (CH.5), the Easter Procession (CH.7) with the penitents barefooted along with ornate headdresses and the dancer and night scene (CH.9) are particularly impressive. Each is viewed along with some well-chosen parts of the Carmen Suites. Particularly pleasant is the tranquil Seguidilla as we view the Seville Park that owes its creation to Maria Luisa of Orleans. It was originally in the English style until redesigned for the Spanish-American Exhibition of 1929 (CH.4). More than is often found in this series the music and the views are nicely matched and although there are returns to two venues there is little repetition such as I have criticised in other issues in the series.
Robert J Farr
I commend this most enjoyable visit to Seville. The views are particularly nicely blended with appropriate music.
Chapter List
Chapters 1 and 6. Maestranza Arena - Landscape
Chapter 2. Landscape near Seville
Chapter 3. Plaza de America
Chapters 4 and 8. Seville's parks
Chapter 5. Seville Cathedral
Chapter 7. Easter Procession
Chapter 9. Spanish Dancer and Night Scene
Chapter 10. A Toreador Prepares
Chapter 11. Training Horses
Chapter 12-13. Street Scenes and Reminiscences
Chapter 14. Maria Luisa Park and Plaza de España
Chapter 15. Alcazar and Giralda