A Musical Journey: Venice - A musical visit to the lagoons and islands of Venice
Music by Vivaldi: excerpts from L’Estro Armonico: Capella Istropolitana/Josef Kopelman.
Aspect ratio 4:3; NTSC; No region coding
NAXOS 2.110306 DVD [57:00] 

I’m a huge enthusiast when it comes to Naxos. Their CD catalogue has opened up many a door to musical scores that would not have seen the light of day had it been left to the (so-called) major classical labels. Some of their recordings of the mainstream repertoire are also up there with the very best.
Unfortunately I can’t be very enthusiastic about this Venetian tour. Some of the evocative lagoon footage is attractive enough and worth seeing once or maybe twice but that’s the only saving grace. Venice has some superb squares and historic buildings but these are mostly absent from this DVD. Instead we have a series of most peculiar locations including a graveyard, a shop selling lace and a cat lying around in the sun doing nothing of real interest. Maybe there are copyright issues when it comes to Venice’s famous “set pieces” but that’s no excuse. A DVD tour of Paris without the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and The Louvre wouldn’t work, would it? The glory of Venice just isn’t captured. The absence of people gives the whole thing a surreal feel, almost as if the camera crew had to do their work on a day when the place was deserted or closed. Without the bustle of people the scenes don’t come to life. When small groups do suddenly turn up there is the feeling that they are extras walking onto set. There’s nothing wrong technically with the majority of the camerawork but some of the content could have easily been covered by stills. Occasionally a shot is on-screen for an inordinate length of time. The only way that you suddenly realise that it’s video is when there is the slightest movement of leaves on a tree or a ripple on the water. Some of the footage is really uninspiring - the sort of stuff that you capture on your summer holiday and then watch on your return home thinking “Why did I record this? It’s boring”. I leave the worst till last. Murano is justly famous for its glass making. Fair enough but what we are treated to here is a lengthy glass blowing demonstration followed by a tour of the shop/warehouse showing row after row of glassware and then some close-ups of a few individual pieces. It goes on forever. This section would be a good show-reel for the glass company but it doesn’t bear repetition in the home environment.
The music itself is expertly played by the Capella Istropolitana but you can buy that on CD anyway (Naxos 8.550160) and back it up by investing in a travel guide from your local bookshop. Sorry to be so negative but this is a rare turkey from Naxos. When I feel in the mood for Venice I will dig out my holiday snaps.  

John Whitmore 

A rare flop from Naxos. 

see also review by Robert Farr