RIVERDANCE LIFE FROM RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL, NEW YORK, features brand new performance pieces including the enthralling "American Wake," the rousing "Harbor of the New World," the moving "Homecoming" and the tantalizing dueling of "Trading Taps," alongside classic, timeless pieces such as "Riverdance", "Thunderstorm" and Heartland." This stunning show, filmed live at the USA's most prestigious venue, Radio City Music Hall, New York, stars principal dancers Jean Butler, Colin Dunne and Maria Pages, supported by an international cast of over seventy, performing in all their magnificent glory.
The Superbit version of Riverdance: Live in New York City
has a big advantage over the previously released DVD
: it's a one-sided disc instead of an annoying two-sided "flipper." The Superbit's higher bit rate shows off colors and sound to greater advantage (compare the deep blue tones in "Caoineadh Chú Chulainn" and the presence of the percussive instruments in "Home and the Heartland"). And like most other Superbit DVDs, extra features are eliminated, but the earlier DVD only had a promotional video and some text material that won't be missed.
Unfortunately, there are more serious drawbacks. The previous disc was anamorphically enhanced at a 1.78 aspect ratio, but the Superbit version is not anamorphic and the picture was reduced to 1.55 (surely a first for the line), visibly losing some content from the edges. Also, one unwanted feature of the original DVD that is retained is the miserly 10 chapter stops; for example, if you want to see "Heal Their Hearts," "Freedom," "Trading Taps," "Russian Dervish," "Heartbeat of the World," or "Homecoming," they're all combined into one 30-minute chapter, so you'll have to fast-forward to find what you want. Then to add insult to inconvenience, the inset card has a "scene-selection menu" that promises 20 chapters. A lesser frustration is the Superbit style of not naming the chapters in the menu so you have to figure out what's being performed from the small photo. Because Riverdance is a musical-performance program rather than a feature film, viewers are more likely to watch excerpts, and both DVDs prove unnecessarily difficult in their navigation. --David Horiuchi