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Pioneer Entertainment presents
Mozart in Salzburg (1991)

"It is an aria without human voice, without words, an unending cantalene evoking desire."
- From the liner notes, on the 2nd movement of Piano Concerto Nr. 21

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: September 23, 2000

Stars: Maria Tipo, Claudia Kallisch
Other Stars: Hans Graf conducting the Mozarteum Orchestra
Director: Helmut Rost

Manufacturer: mediaHYPERIUM
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:27m:09s
Release Date: May 30, 2000
UPC: 013023051799
Genre: classical


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A A+A-A B+

DVD Review

Although Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart spent much of his life elsewhere, he is forever identified with the Austrian town of Salzburg, where even today an annual Mozart festival is held. One of the anchors of this festival is the Mozarteum Orchestra. On this disc we see and hear that orchestra, conducted by Hans Graf, playing at the 1991 Mozart festival and performing some of Mozart's best-loved pieces as well as some more obscure works.

Symphony in D, K. 95. This work from Mozart's youth shows a good deal of Italian influence, especially in the orchestration, which uses a much thinned force for the second theme by way of contrast. The orchestra varies nicely between extreme delicacy and good humor. While a minor work, this early symphony is undeniably a pleasant one to start off an evening of more challenging compositions.

Piano Concerto Nr. 21 in C, K.467. Although not known by name, the second movement of this concerto is one of the best known compositions by Mozart, thanks to its modern immortalization in the film Elvira Madigan. Maria Tipo serves as the pianist for this work, and she has a splendidly fluid touch, reminiscent of the great Annie Fischer. Her performance is both forceful and graceful, with the vexing ornamentation being brought off effortlessly. The balance between the orchestra and the piano is carefully maintained, even in the most bombastic sections. The warmth of the famous Andante fills one with a rosy glow, even though it is quite familiar. This is as good a performance of this work as you're likely to hear.

Rondo for Soprano and Orchestra, 'Al desio di chi t'adora', K.577. We then get two works for soprano and orchestra, reflecting the two faces of love. The first is this passionate rondo, full of hope and expectation at the prospect of love and desire. Soprano Claudia Kallisch seems to lack power in the lower ranges of these works, but otherwise she gives them an admirable reading. She has a solid coluratura technique, without being overwhelming. Again, the sound balances between the soloist and the orchestra are impressively maintained through the many changing moods of these works.

Recitative and Aria, 'Basta, vincesti...Ah non las ciarmi', K.486a. The second face of love is the anger and disappointment in betrayal and loss. Kallisch does somewhat better with this emotional work, conveying the despair and frustration more convincingly than she did the positive sides of love in the Rondo. The minor-key middle section is quite moving.

Symphony No. 39 in E-Flat, K. 543. We conclude with one of the Himalayas of the symphonic repertoire, the first of Mozart's last three symphonies. The orchestra here gives a vigorous performance as they shift through its many moods and astonishing changes of key, thereby highlighting the way in which this late work prefigures the Romantics. The chiaroscuro of the sentiments of this symphony are painted with both drama and sensitivity. The Andante, with its changes into the minor, is heart-rending. By way of contrast, the Menuetto is performed as if it were a rowdy German country dance, lending an air of humor to the work.

I don't think I've ever seen an orchestral conductor smile as much as does Hans Graf. He has good reason to, for this is a performance to be happy about. Mozart would approve.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A+

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: For a live performance, the picture on this disc is surprisingly good. While there is, as is typical in classical concerts, a limited palette, there are portions that are truly gorgeous, such as the blue on Kallisch's gown. Blacks range from very good to excellent. The picture is full-screen, with a good deal of camera movement and a wide variety of angles used. The bit rate is about 5-6 Mbps, ranging as high as 8 at times. Very little to complain about here.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Italianno
PCMItalianyes


Audio Transfer Review: Both a DD 5.1 and an uncompressed PCM track are included. Those who like to feel in the midst of the music will prefer the 5.1 track; if you want the feeling of a concert in front of you, then opt for the PCM track. The audio quality of the two tracks is pretty similar, and they're both very good. The DD 5.1 occasionally sounds a little harsh in the woodwinds, but by and large it is nearly the equal of the PCM track. There is significant audience noise between selections, but during the music they manage to be quite silent, which is a nice change from the typical concert recording.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 13 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Production Notes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by unknown
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Glossary of Musical Terms
  2. List of other Pioneer Classics DVDs
Extras Review: We get a nice array of extras for a concert disc. Most important of these is a running commentary on the music, which plays in the first subtitle track. I found this commentary to be very useful in identifying themes and structures that might take several listens to get a handle on otherwise. The one real complaint I have is that you can't watch the commentary and also get the English translation of the lyrics.

There are also twelve screens of liner notes, although these are riddled with silly errors (such as referring to the Concerto Nr. 21 as a symphony). They nonetheless give a good historical context to the works in question. Brief bios are also provided for Graf, Kallisch and Tipo. A glossary of musical terms (including a good succinct three-screen discussion of sonata form) is included, as is a list of other Pioneer classical music releases; a few trailers of brief excerpts would have been useful with respect to the latter extra.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

A very pleasant evening in Salzburg with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, highlighting a variety of genres of his works. The running commentary is a nice touch. Very highly recommended to anyone with the slightest interest in classical music.

 


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