A Musical Journey – Italy: A Musical Tour of Siena, Pisa and Nervi
Music by Beethoven
Chapters 1 and 2: Siena
Chapter 3: Pisa
Chapters 4-7: Nervi, Villa Luxoro
Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Stefan Vladar (piano); Capella Istropolitana/Barry Wordsworth from Naxos 8.550190
Piano Sonata in F Op.2 No. 1 played by Jenö Jandó (piano) from Naxos 8.550150
No recording dates or venues given
Director: George Gachot
Cameraman: H.T. Aschwanden
Video Format: NTSC. Colour 4:3
Audio Formats: DTS 5.1. Dolby Digital 5.1. PCM Stereo 2.0
Region: 0 (worldwide)
NAXOS DVD 2.110275 [57:00]
This Musical Journey opens with the interior and mighty dome of Sienna Cathedral, begun, according to my references, in 1229 and completed in 1265.It was extended in 1317 and 1339. The original aim to make it the largest and finest in Italy was abandoned as a result of structural defects and the great plague of 1348. Despite that it remains one of the earliest of the great Gothic churches of the region with its façade of red, black and white marble and columns to the vaulted roof. The polychromic interior with its carvings and statuary are also impressive as befits a city that aimed, as an independent republic, to rival Florence in the 12th century. Outside, the narrow passages all seem to lead to and from the spacious Piazza del Campo with the dominant Campanile with its black and white bands nearly always in view. The first two movements of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 are appropriate accompaniments to this tour during the day (CH.1) and night (CH.2) with the Cathedral set against the sky.
The final movement of the piano concerto is the background to a nine-minute visit to the provincial capital, Pisa (CH.3), second only to Florence among the tourist attractions of Tuscany. The focus of the pictures is the superb group of buildings in the Piazza del Duomo and particularly the famous leaning tower that is sixteen metres in diameter and nearly fifty-seven high. After years of concern it is now securely underpinned. The adjacent Cathedral was built between 1063 and 1118 whilst the circular Baptistry was added between 1153 and 1265; both are magnificent in their own right.
After the dominant architecture of Sienna and Pisa the last four Chapters of this selection focus on Nervi and the Villa Luxoro. Despite the opulent interiors of the villa, not exactly homely or lived in, these last twenty minutes are a bit of a let-down after what has gone before and also what might have been included. The gardens and views of the sea give a clue to that might have been. Nervi is near to Genoa, capital of Liguria. Situated on the Mediterranean it is Italy’s leading port and centre of maritime trade. It is known as La Superba on account of its splendid marble palaces and magnificent location, of which we see nothing. Genoa was the city that Verdi and his wife retired to every winter to escape the cold of their home in the Po valley. It is also the setting of his opera Simon Boccanegra whose opening music - prologue and act one - are so evocative of the lapping of waves and the movement of the sea. These qualities are barely touched upon by the Beethoven’s Piano Sonata featured, well though it is played.
The usual mixed outcome of this series with some interesting pictures alongside opportunities missed.
Robert J Farr
The usual mixed outcome of this series with some interesting pictures alongside opportunities missed.