Notes and Editorial Reviews
Italy – A Musical Tour of Siena, Pisa and Nervi
The Tuscan city of Siena has a long history and is the site of one of the earliest great Gothic churches of the region, instantly recognisable from the polychrome marble and sculptures of its façade. From Siena our tour goes to Pisa, where, inevitably, the famous leaning tower and its adjacent buildings are the centre of our attention. The tour ends with a visit to Nervi, a resort that is now part of the city of Genoa, and the Villa Luxoro, with its collections of objets d’art.
Music for the tour is by Beethoven, with his Piano Concerto No. 1, completed in 1795, and his first Piano Sonata, one of a set of three
published in 1796 and dedicated to his teacher, Joseph Haydn.
Video Format: NTSC, Color, 4:3
Audio FormatL DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, PCM Stereo 2.0
Region: All Region
This Musical Journey opens with the interior and mighty dome of Sienna Cathedral, begun, according to my references, in 1229 and completed in 1265.It was extended in 1317 and 1339. The original aim to make it the largest and finest in Italy was abandoned as a result of structural defects and the great plague of 1348. Despite that it remains one of the earliest of the great Gothic churches of the region with its façade of red, black and white marble and columns to the vaulted roof. The polychromic interior with its carvings and statuary are also impressive as befits a city that aimed, as an independent republic, to rival Florence in the 12
th century. Outside, the narrow passages all seem to lead to and from the spacious Piazza del Campo with the dominant Campanile with its black and white bands nearly always in view. The first two movements of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 are appropriate accompaniments to this tour during the day (CH.1) and night (CH.2) with the Cathedral set against the sky.
The final movement of the piano concerto is the background to a nine-minute visit to the provincial capital, Pisa (CH.3), second only to Florence among the tourist attractions of Tuscany. The focus of the pictures is the superb group of buildings in the Piazza del Duomo and particularly the famous leaning tower that is sixteen metres in diameter and nearly fifty-seven high. After years of concern it is now securely underpinned. The adjacent Cathedral was built between 1063 and 1118 whilst the circular Baptistry was added between 1153 and 1265; both are magnificent in their own right.
After the dominant architecture of Sienna and Pisa the last four Chapters of this selection focus on Nervi and the Villa Luxoro. Despite the opulent interiors of the villa, not exactly homely or lived in, these last twenty minutes are a bit of a let-down after what has gone before and also what might have been included. The gardens and views of the sea give a clue to that might have been. Nervi is near to Genoa, capital of Liguria. Situated on the Mediterranean it is Italy’s leading port and centre of maritime trade. It is known as
La Superba on account of its splendid marble palaces and magnificent location, of which we see nothing. Genoa was the city that Verdi and his wife retired to every winter to escape the cold of their home in the Po valley. It is also the setting of his opera
Simon Boccanegra whose opening music - prologue and act one - are so evocative of the lapping of waves and the movement of the sea. These qualities are barely touched upon by the Beethoven’s Piano Sonata featured, well though it is played.
The usual mixed outcome of this series with some interesting pictures alongside opportunities missed.
-- Robert J Farr, MusicWeb International
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