A Musical Journey - France - A Musical Visit to Burgundy, Pays de la Loire, Franche-Comte
Chapter 1: Pays de la Loire, Landscapes
Chapter 2: River Cousin, Burgundy. Valley of the Loue, Comté. Rivers Erdre and Loire in the Pays de la Loire
Chapter 3: Le Pays de la Loire, Chateau Cheverney. Burgundy, Chateau d’Arlay. Loire thunderstorm. Burgundy, Chateau de Bussy
Chapter 4: Pays de la Loire, Chateau de Villandry
Music by Beethoven: Symphony No 6, Pastoral. Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/Michael Halasz from Naxos CD 8.550135; Romance in G Takako Nishizaki (violin) Slovak Symphony Orchestra/Kenneth Jean from Naxos CD 8. 550149
No recording dates or venues given
DVD Director: Roland Boss
Cameraman: H T Aschwanden
Audio Format: DTS 5.1. Dolby Digital 5.1. PCM Stereo 2.0
Video Format: NTSC. Region 0. Colour. Aspect ratio 4:3
NAXOS DVD 2.110298 [52.47]
This Musical Journey certainly spreads itself widely around and across the northern areas of France. Its span extends from the Comté in the east, bordering Switzerland, to the wide reaches of the river Loire far to the west and approaching the Atlantic. Some of the focus is on grand houses, or chateaux as the French call them, and the environs of rivers. The trouble with this issue in particular, but also evident in others in the series, is the way the content flits from one area to another. It is often difficult for the watcher to know exactly which river, where or what is being looked at. Whilst I recognise that it is probably not economical to put place names as titles on the film, I do wonder if timings, via splits in Chapters, are the answer to this regular dilemma. In some instances I clearly recognised the locations and have indicated them by timings.
I have no difficulty with the rather bland opening showing a horse and trap driving between fields of corn-on-the-cob. Whilst these could be anywhere in France the pictures reflect the mood of the opening allegro of Beethoven’s Pastoral. More than many of these issues, the pictures and the mood of the music are consciously related. This is not merely when the views of a thunderstorm in the Loire, complete with lightning flashes, parallels the storm allegro of the symphony. It is similar with the Shepherd’s Song of Thanksgiving after the Storm when peace returns. Then the viewer can enjoy pictures of the vineyards of Burgundy with their immaculate rows of well kept vines reflecting the retail price of the product.
Particularly memorable are the views from the bridge over the river Loue in Ornans in the Comté (CH.2), a beautiful pastoral river-view of characteristic older houses. It is a view I look at every day as my wife painted it and is one of her works that decorate our lounge. It contrasts with the width of the Loire (16:00) with a cargo boat passing fine houses along the verdant waterside. That section also has a visit to the more recreational Lac de Saint Point, four miles long created by damming the river Daubs.
The Chateau at Cheverney is typical of the ornate opulence of many in the region (CH.3. 22.54min). Here hunting dogs are the order of today as well as yesteryear, as is horsemanship. The formal gardens at Cheverney are quite beautiful as is the accompanying music and playing (CH.4. 43.4).
After views of ripening tournesol sunflowers which provide oil and are widely grown in all agricultural areas of France the pictures conclude appropriately enough with a sunset.
Robert J Farr
Plenty to see, and music to enjoy, in this geographically wide-ranging visit to France. 

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