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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concert > Music > Classical > Comedy > P. D. Q. Bach – Houston, We Have A Problem (Concert)

P. D. Q. Bach – Houston, We Have A Problem (Concert)


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: B-     Concert: B



Peter Schickele loves music and his love is only matched by his skills to play it, feature it, play with at and take it into distinctive directions.  Like Victor Borge, he knew Classical Music was not some stillborn, elitist, stuff bore that should build cultural walls against others.  He also knew there were new places to take that music and during the last counterculture movement, did scoring for innovative programs like the TV classic Sesame Street and Douglas Trumbull’s 1971 Science Fiction classic Silent Running, reviewed elsewhere on this site.  Then there is his alter ego, P.D.Q. Bach.


P. D. Q. Bach – Houston, We Have A Problem (2006) is a new concert featuring the “oddest” of Johann Sebastian Bach’s children and he is as eccentric as ever.  A classical counterpart to Firesign Theater, with Schickele as funny and daring as ever.  If anything, his return on his first DVD could not be better timed.  Breaking recently reestablished standards of conservative stuffiness, the humor takes on a new irony and even urgency as we are reminded about our past, Schickele’s underrated legacy and how vital the arts are to all societies.  Schickele is more of an innovator than he gets credit for and has an extensive library of his own original works.  That includes many pieces under the P.D.Q. Bach name he plays here in the non-stop 102 minutes of this concert.


Schickele is not only a key music talent, but a showman, which he handles with grace and the audience loves it for good reason.  This is intelligent humor and the right balance of that with talent and material yields fine results.  If you have never experienced P.D.Q. Bach, get this disc.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is shot on digital video and it does not look like digital High Definition, but it is clean and does have some good color.  It is also a tad detail-weak and has a harsh look in parts.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 option is better than the Dolby 2.0 Stereo, with the kind of expansive orchestration you want in such a program.  Too bad Acorn did not use DTS, because that would have been more involving.  Extras include text interviews on the many sides of Schickele plus Peter Jacoby, a nice interview with Schickele and two more bonus music segments rounding out this disc nicely.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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