Notes and Editorial Reviews
Austria, Switzerland & Germany
A Christmas Musical Tour
Music by Johann Sebastian Bach & Handel
The tour starts in Vienna at the Christkindl Market and other Christmas scenes include the grotesque Krampus masqueraders, with St Nicholas, in Steyr. In Switzerland we see the great monastery church at Einsiedeln and in Bavaria the Abbey Church at Ottobeuren. In Austria scenes of Salzburg and its Christmas market are followed by Christmas cribs at Steyr and in the great cathedral at Linz, ending gazing upwards at the great Christmas fresco that decorates the dome of the monastery church at Einsiedeln.
The music chosen for this tour is
principally taken from the works of Handel and Johann Sebastian Bach, including excerpts from the former’s Messiah and from two organ concertos, and from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, with the carol Silent Night heard in its original setting at the little church in Oberndorf, for which it was written.
NTSC Picture format: NTSC 4:3
Sound format: PCM Stereo / Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Running time: 57 mins 29 secs
No. of DVDs: 1
Naxos have cornered the market in DVD travelogues. This Christmas-themed video - made in 1993 and presented here in 3:4 aspect - tracks through picturesque churches, landscapes and street-scenes and sets these images to extracts of seasonal music by Bach (Christmas Oratorio and others) and Handel (Messiah). It’s done smoothly without bumpy gear-changes. That said, each of the seventeen chapters is preceded by a title-board telling you about the location you are about to see and identifying the music to be played. Those title sequences stay on screen for perhaps a mite too long – certainly long enough for the watcher to note the catalogue number of the CD carrying the music. Every piece of music is from the Naxos catalogue. Fair enough that Naxos would take the opportunity to use its own recordings and wish to promote the related CDs.
Impressions crowd in. Sacred meets profane. The devotional and commercial are juxtaposed just as they are for the now long extended Christmas experience which seems to begin in October these days. We see wintry street markets with haloed lights, smiling children’s faces and kitsch goods brilliantly coloured on the stalls. Those plastic Santas and Sendak-based street carnival masks and costumes contrast with meditative countryside snow-scenes. These are very well done. In fact we could have done with more of these. Perhaps a bit of a cliché, but the spangled early sun in chiaroscuro through the pines is beautifully done. There are quite a few church interiors but the camerawork is excellent with tracking and panning shots taken at just the right speed to allow the viewer to take in the detail of the crib scene and a host of gilded seraphim and cherubim. The camera moves on before boredom sets in. One drinks in the flamboyance of the Collegiate Church Ottobeuren. The music is aptly chosen to match the images. Notable among the singers is are the wonderful Helen Parker in
He shall feed his flocks as is the lusty singing of
The booklet is pretty good. It identifies all the performers for each chapter as well as catalogue numbers for the counterpart CDs.
-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
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