A Musical Journey - Austria and Belgium
A Musical Visit to Salzburg, Vienna, Brussels and Tournai
Chapter 1. Salzburg, Parish Church of St Peter. Mozartplatz. Cathedral
Chapter 2. Vienna, Army Museum
Chapter 3. Vienna, Central Cemetery. Karl Luger Memorial Church. Army Museum
Chapter 4. Salzkammergut. Dachstein Glacier and Landscape
Chapter 5. Wachau: Fortified Church of St Michael in the Wachau Valley. Belgium: Musee Wiertz, Brussels; Musee des Beaux-Arts, Tournai
Chapter 6. Vienna, Town Views. Salzburg: Church of St Peter
Chapter 7. Vienna, Town Hall and Karlskirche. Salzburg. Collegiate Church. Mozart on his Death-Bed
Chapter 8. Gottweig, Abbey Church
Chapter 9. Vienna, Composer's Monuments and History Museum
Chapters 10-11. Linz: Cathedral
Chapter 12. Salzkammergut, Wolfgangsee and Schafberg. Landscape
Chapter 13. Vienna, National Library. Salzburg, St Sebastian Cemetery and Cathedral
Music. Mozart The Requiem Mass K626 (1791)
Magdelena Hajossyova (soprano); Jaroslava Horska (contralto); Jozef Kundlak (tenor); Peter Mikulas (bass); Vladimir Ruso (organ)
Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus/Zdenek Kosler from Naxos CD 8.550235
No recording dates or venues given
DVD Director: G Gachot
Cameraman: H T Aschwanden
Audio Format: DTS 5.1. Dolby Digital 5.1. PCM Stereo 2.0
Video Format: NTSC. Region 0. Colour. Aspect ratio 4:3
NAXOS DVD 2.110333 [57.09]
This visit is mainly concerned with Mozart’s birthplace, Salzburg, and with Vienna, where he lived for the last decade of his all too brief life. The music chosen is his Requiem K626. It claims to relate to the life of the composer from his native Salzburg to his final financially precarious existence in Vienna. The commission for this work came anonymously as the composer was completing Die Zauberflöte. The commission was from Count Franz Walsegg who it is believed wished to pass it off as his own. In fact Mozart died before completing it. Desperately in need of money, and in order to obtain the second part of the due payment, his widow passed the incomplete manuscript to first Joseph Eybler and then to Mozart’s pupil Süssmayer for completion.
This musical visit should, I suggest, be mainly concerned with the sights Mozart would have known or which are associated with him, albeit there is a major diversion to Belgium. Each section of the mass is associated with different Chapters. The more than usual notes indicate which parts of the music were composed wholly by Mozart and those wholly or partly by Süssmayer. This information is drawn from notes which Mozart left at his premature death.
Whilst the content has some focus on Salzburg, where Mozart was born, and Vienna where he moved to try to make an independent living away from the influence of the church, there are many diversions and irrelevances as far as the composer is concerned. Certainly we see the churches associated with Mozart in Salzburg (CHs.1, 6 and 7) and less so in Vienna, particularly their interior features alongside external architecture. However there is a failure to put them in the overall locale of the cities concerned with only occasional general views of the associated impressive rivers. Of interest would have been photographs of the venues of the Salzburg festivals. The concern with church features is somewhat excessive and extends to the diversion to Belgium, which, as far as I am aware, has no claim even to a Mozart visit (CH.5).
The views of the photographically impressive Dachstein glacier (CH.4) become a welcome diversion from a preoccupation with churches that extends to Linz (CHs. 10-11). Also impressive, photographically, are the night scenes in Vienna and the views of the neo-Gothic Town Hall erected during the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I (CH.7). Vaguely more relevant to Mozart is the Central Cemetery in Vienna, opened in 1898, where there is a monument to him. Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms and Gluck are buried here along with other distinguished composers. The main avenue leads to the Karl Luger Memorial Church (CH.3). CH.9 focuses on the monuments in the formal Burggarten in Vienna (the former Kaisergarten), laid out between 1817 and 1824 and which includes a memorial to Mozart and a monument to Goethe with Schiller commemorated nearby. The Vienna History Museum is among institutions holding material depicting some of the great composers who lived in Vienna, including Mozart, Schubert and Bruckner. A painting of Mozart by Saveno dalla Rosa made in 1770 in Verona at the age of fourteen is among various portraits of the composer including a depiction of a deathbed scene.
The musical performance is more than adequate with a clear soaring soprano, a baritonal tenor (CH.2) and a sonorous bass and contralto (CH.7).The whole is conducted with a good sense of style by Zdenek Kosler.
This DVD lacks the clear focus of a previous issue that I commended with a different director (see review). Maybe some of these issues depend very much on existing photography when a clearer focus on objectives would be more appropriate, especially as the word ‘travelogue’ is used.
Robert J Farr
Far too many opportunities are missed to associate the photographic views with Mozart’s life and his final composition.