A Musical Journey Ė Italy: A Musical Tour of Tuscany, Umbria and Rome.
Chapter 1: Orvieto. Lake Bolsena and Tuscan Landscape
Chapter 2: Rome and Caracala Baths
Chapter 3: Montalcino, Church of St Antimo and Landscape
Chapter 4: Rome
Chapter 5: Landscape, Montepulciano, Siena, Florence and Tuscan landscape
Mendelssohnís Italian Symphony. Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra/Anthony Bramhall. Naxos CD 8.550055
Mendelssohnís Violin Concerto. Takako Nishizaki (violin) Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra/Kenneth Jean. Naxos CD 8.550153
No recording dates or venues given
Director: George Gacot
Cameraman: H.T. Aschwanden
Video Format: NTSC. Colour 4:3
Audio Formats: DTS 5.1. Dolby Digital 5.1. PCM Stereo 2.0
NAXOS DVD 2110276 [57.26]
 
The variety of these Naxos Musical Journeys is immense, regrettably so is the quality. I recognise that they seek a marriage between existing audio recordings of music and existing photographic images. That said, there seems to be a discordance between my expectations, and those of others I talk to, and what we actually get. I recently awarded one such issue (Norway 2.110274) the imprimatur of Recording of the Month. There the conjunction of the music and the many images of related places struck an adroit note. In the present case I was again seeking images of the places actually mentioned on the box as well as knowing something of the diversity of countryside and architecture and history that abounds. For example, I hoped to see images of Siena; blink and I would have missed them (CH.5). Meanwhile, in the thirty minutes of an enjoyable performance of Mendelssohnís Violin Concerto most of the images were of clouds at dusk, daybreak and during an electrical storm. I felt short changed by these pictures, which were frankly tedious from an area rich in places of great beauty and interest. At least there were images of Florence, the shops on the Ponte Vecchio, the magnificent Duomo cathedral church of Santa Maria del Fiore in pristine and cleaned state, and without scaffolding, along with the gilded bronze doors of the Baptistery and the Uffizi. Nothing though of the Boboli Gardens and nearby Palace, or the statue of the adolescent David.
 
Earlier there were interesting photographic images matched to the craggy landscape and battlements of Tuscany and its towns and vineyards. It would have been nice to roam the streets rather than flit past over the towns (CH.1). The extensive Baths of Caracala, famous for summer opera performances as well as a concert by The Three Tenors, gets more detailed treatment. One can only regret that the remains lack the marble and mosaic cladding long gone (CH.2). The final movement of Mendelssohnís Italian Symphony accompanies a tour of Rome by day and night (CH.4). The scenes include the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the mighty Colosseum and Arch, the Pantheon along with the Dome of St Peterís and the great piazza. These images and music with associations and perhaps mood should, I contend, be the basis of these Musical Journeys, not endless clouds or fields; these may have a part to play, but certainly not a dominant one.
 
Robert J Farr
 
In an area rich in historical and archaeological interest, too many of the visual images are tedious and lacking in relevance. They could be anywhere.

see also review by Ian Lace