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BMG Music presents
George Winston: Seasons in Concert (1996)

"Every song I've ever heard that has gone in and stayed in me has always reminded me of a season. A picture, maybe, or a place, but always a season."
- George Winston

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: December 10, 2000

Stars: George Winston
Other Stars: Keola Beamer
Director: Paul Marcos

Manufacturer: CMCA
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:25m:12s
Release Date: October 12, 1999
UPC: 019341147190
Genre: new age

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

DVD Review

The New Age piano stylings of George Winston are something of an acquired taste. For myself, I find them tedious and pretentious, and was not looking forward to reviewing this disc whatsoever. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, despite the title, only a few tracks are devoted to this kind of music, and that the bulk of this concert (mostly filmed live in Nashville in 1996) is devoted to Vince Guaraldi's jazzy piano music for the Peanuts specials, and the slack-key guitar music played in tandem with Hawaiian guitarist Keola Beamer and country guitar legend Chet Atkins (though these numbers were filmed separately from the principal concert).

The unfortunate part about this disc is rather than having the music separated by interviews, the interview segments are placed directly over the musical performances, making this more a documentary disc than a concert as the title implies. I would have much preferred relegating the interviews to a separate bonus featurette. They really interfere with the flow of the music presentation.

Winston is certainly talented on both piano and guitar and puts on a good show. The camera often focuses on his hands, but deftly avoids showing exactly what he's playing; since Winston is well-known to be adamant in not publishing his music, it appears that he also doesn't want to give it away visually in this film. Having just reviewed the DVD of Horowitz in Moscow, I was intrigued to notice that Winston utilizes the same oddball straight-fingered style that Horowitz did. On the New Age material, there is a variety of nature photography intercut with the concert performance, as well as sound effects—such as lightning—on Rain. Followers of Winston probably won't be bothered by this gimmickry, but I found it annoying.

For me, the highlight of the disc was the Guaraldi pieces, and they do not disappoint. Winston has a great touch and an instinctive feel for these little compositions that really brings them to life. On Cat & Mouse, Winston also incorporates Fats Waller's Fistful of Keys to good effect, while owing a significant unspoken debt to novelty composer Zez Confrey. George winds up the concert with probably his best-loved work, his variations on the Pachelbel Canon in D. Crossing easily from genre to genre, this piece is not to be missed. In short, there's enough different material on this disc to placate even nonfans of George Winston, and those who already like him will be very well pleased indeed, other than for the interviews running over the music.


Spring to Summer:
Cat & Mouse
Blossom & Meadow
Opihi Moe Moe
Kalena Kai

Summer to Autumn:
Great Pumpkin Waltz
You're in Love Charlie Brown
MM's Dunk
The Cradle
Corrina, Corrina
Peppermint Patty/Charlie Brown's All-Stars
Cast Your Fate to the Wind

Autumn to Winter:
Pu'u Ana Hula
Waltz for the Lonely
Variations on the Pachelbel Kanon in D
High Plains Lullaby #19

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: For what is primarily a live stage show, the black levels are excellent. Blacks are solid and rich throughout. Color reproduction is lifelike and pleasant. Good shadow detail is present and the picture is in general quite sharp and clear, though some of the nature photography is intentionally in soft focus. Video rates run about 5 Mbps.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The DD 5.1 and 2.0 tracks both sound great; the surrounds seem to be putting out the same content as the mains, which makes me question whether there is in fact any difference between them. The one area in which the 5.1 track is clearly the superior is in the guitar duets with Beamer and Atkins; there the low bass of the guitars really comes through nicely for maximum effect. Sound reproduction is excellent on both insofar as the music goes, with natural sounding piano and guitar throughout. The interview segments suffer from excessive hiss, but this is apparently a source material issue. Still, in mastering the noise should have been reduced, especially when the interview overlays the music.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 20 cues and remote access
Packaging: other
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Promo piece for Winston CDs
  2. Selected discography
Extras Review: The sole extra, if it can be called that, is a 1m:30s commercial for CDs of Winston's work. The booklet also contains a selected discography for Winston, but that's about all. The chaptering has some nice touches, such as separate cues for each part of the Peppermint Patty/Charlie Brown's All-Stars medley. The interviews really should have been edited as a separate little program in order to maximize the pleasure of the concert footage.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

A pleasant recording that will surely gratify fans of Winston. The presentation of the interviews gets in the way of the music at times, but the transfer is very nice indeed. Recommended for fans of Winston, Vince Guaraldi or solo piano (or slack-key guitar) generally.


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