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DVD International presents
Christmas Goes Baroque: A Naxos Musical Journey (1991)

"So bring us a figgy pudding."
- We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: September 05, 2000

Stars: CSSR State Philharmonic Orchestra, Peter Breiner, conductor
Director: G. Gachot

Manufacturer: Alpha DVD
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 00h:51m:12s
Release Date: August 22, 2000
UPC: 647715099822
Genre: classical

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A B+B-C- D

DVD Review

With Christmas Goes Baroque, we get the first DVD with arrangements of well-loved Christmas songs (and several less familiar ones) done in the style of Bach, Handel and Vivaldi. Overall, the concept works pretty well, though the moods of the songs themselves often are disregarded. We thus get a plodding, by-the-numbers We wish you a merry Christmas, but to balance that out there is a hauntingly beautiful, almost mournful, God rest ye merry, gentlemen (no tidings of comfort or joy to be heard there). The rendition of Jingle Bells is barely recognizable, but quite clever. Other highlights include a theme-and-variations treatment of O Tannenbaum and a rollicking fugal version of Good King Wenceslas.

The visual travelogue portion of the program is largely devoted to Switzerland this time out, with a brief detour to Nuremberg. Because the Travel Notes are so difficult to review, following is a short listing of the places visited for each song:

1. Silent Night-Zurich city lights
2. We Wish You a Merry Christmas-Zurich snowscapes
3. Jingle Bells-Zurich toy shops
4. Kommet, ihr Hirten-creche in Zurich
5. Alle Jahre wieder-Franz-Carl Weber shop, Zurich
6. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen-Great Minster, Zurich
7. Kling, Gloeckchen-Engadine region of Switzerland; Church of Santa Maria
8. The First Noel-Toy Museum, Nuremberg
9. O du froehliche--Zurich store toy displays
10. Jolly Old St. Nicholas-Christmas feast at a Zurich restaurant
11. Adeste Fideles-Baroque monastery church at Einseldeln, Switzerland
12. O Tannenbaum-Swiss winter landscapes
13. Good King Wenceslas-Zurich store toy displays

This disc would make a nice present for a classical music lover, or anyone who likes their holiday music a little different.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The image quality varies greatly. Some of the scenes, such as the store window displays and the mountain landscapes, are breathtakingly beautiful, crisp and clear with excellent colors and blacks. Others such as the initial views of Zurich's lights by night, look awful. The problem there is compounded by the fact the footage is shot through a dirty windshield. Thankfully that doesn't stay on screen long. Clips of shoppers in stores, shot using natural light, are predictably grainy. Some of the exteriors are murky and muddy and rather on the ugly side. The crew should have been sent out another day or two to give some more useable film. Given the source material, however, the transfer is acceptable.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0n/ayes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is, in general quite good. Bass response is excellent and the various sections of the orchestra come through clearly. Minimal hiss and noise were noted. However, we did hear several very brief audio dropouts on the DD 5.1 track, and the audio on three of the selections is cut slightly short, a failing of many of the discs in the first wave of Naxos Musical Journeys. This latter fault seems incredible, given the short running time of the program here. Overall, however, the sound is quite listenable.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 13 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 13 cues and remote access
Packaging: other
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Travel Notes
  2. Previews of other DVD International discs
Extras Review: The travel notes and the menu navigation are, unfortunately, still as difficult to use as was the case on prior volumes. One cannot visit the Travel Notes and return to the music in the same place; instead you are sent back to the start of the piece. It would have been much superior to put the Travel Notes all together, or even better, run them as optional subtitles playable during the music.

We also get previews of other DVD International discs, in addition to the Naxos Musical Journeys series. These are for Video Essentials, Mars the Red Planet, Earthlight Special Edition, Aquaria, Tender Loving Care and More Tales of the City.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Some minor problems with the audio and some questionable choices for the video make what would be a highly recommended disc only 'recommended.' Overall, however, a very pleasant, albeit brief, experience.


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