Case Number 00466

NAXOS MUSICAL JOURNEY: BACH

DVD International // 2000 // 60 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Rogers (Retired) // April 19th, 2000

The Charge

"Johann Sebastian Bach"

Opening Statement

Sixteenth century German composer Bach is a mainstay of classical music as it's known in the modern era. It can be argued he's the most well known of all the "classical composers." Whether or not people can actually place identity to music, everyone has most likely heard Bach sometime in their life.

The Evidence

One in a line of discs from DVD International, the Naxos Musical Journey series of discs takes classical composers and sets their music to soothing background images of art and nature. The concept is actually quite a nice one, in the same vein as several other musical or "background" discs on the market right now. The discs aren't necessarily designed to be "watched" as one sits and watches a movie, but rather put on as background for a party or other activity.

Most of the "background" discs thus far have tended to focus on the younger party set, with techno or other aggressive musical styles. Other discs in the "genre" have been much milder, such as Aquaria, which has only a token attempt at audio.

Bach is a refreshing change. An hour of music from the composer is presented, a selection of different parts from four arrangements. The audio mix is the strongest part of this disc, surpassing even many full-fledged concert discs available now. Both Dolby 5.1 and DTS mixes are presented. The soundstage is very expansive, very deep, very full. The music projects from the speakers and wraps around the listeners, filling the room and really giving the audible impression of being present for the orchestral recording session.

Visually, a selection of images accompanies the arrangements. Sweeping Italian vistas, Renaissance period architecture, classical works of art, and quietly pattering fountains comprise the imagery that slowly pans and clips across the screen. The combination is quite relaxing, very soothing, and overall creates a wonderful effect. It wouldn't do at many of the parties I typically attend, but would fit right in at a stereotypical "society" function, or at a wine tasting, or even a corporate function.

The case promises "E-Z menuing system." As pretentious as that sounds, the menus are actually extremely well laid out, and even include options for repeating and shuffling of the disc and tracks. Good job.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Unfortunately, there are a few points of contention. The disc is only an hour. This is really confusing, and quite questionable; the disc contents are not such that they take much space. The length clearly should have been doubled, perhaps even further, to make it a greater value to consumers.

The video is the second, and is led directly from the first problem. The video is of very poor quality. The image is very over enhanced in some shots, and heavily degraded in others. Almost every shot has degradation, pixelation, shimmering, or even color bleed. There honestly isn't a single video shot on the entire disc that can be pointed to as a quality video transfer. Many images seem to be divided, parts dynamic, others statically updating only once per second. Literally, this is one of the poorest video attempts I've yet seen on DVD.

Closing Statement

While the length and video are problems, ultimately, the music must carry the day. The pricing seems a tad high for what consumers receive, but the audio really comes through strongly. Two high quality formats are available on the disc, and both sound wonderful.

The Verdict

A solid attempt, hopefully to be revised and improved on as future discs come out in the line, and as other discs come out in the same vein. Length and video are disappointing, but ultimately not deal breakers. Studio and disc engineers are soundly chastised for their woeful attempts.

Review content copyright © 2000 David Rogers; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 18
Audio: 93
Extras: 50

Perp Profile
Studio: DVD International
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* DTS 5.1 Surround (Music Only)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Music Only)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 60 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

Accomplices
* None