Monet, Verlaine, Debussey: The Impressionist Revolution
In an attempt to convey a more complete artistic experience, Arboresence/New Line New Media have combined art, music, and poetry on two new CD-ROMs in their Great Artist Collection: Monet, Verlaine, Debussey: The Impressionist Revolution and Matisse, Aragon, Prokofiev: An Interactive Adventure in Art. The format is the same for each disc, although Matisse, Aragon, Prokofiev has a far more attractive interface. There is a general Introduction, and three main sections. “Themes” offers topics that influenced all three artists; “Encounters” explores major personal and cultural conflicts that shaped their life and work; “Works” has three separate gallery presentations, each devoted to one artist. In addition there is “Chronology” and “More About” for supplementary information, and a “Bibliography.” There is an “Index,” but unfortunately it only provides a short provenance for each piece instead of serving as a link to each work on the CD-ROMs . Matisse and Monet come out ahead on these discs, which is understandable considering that the visuals are first-rate and are well displayed in this format. The composers are given good coverage; the music is lovely, with a wide selection of pieces to choose from, and it plays almost without interruption. The poets, alas, don’t fare quite as well. Their work is well-represented, but reading text on the screen is still not that enjoyable, and you may find the melodramatic delivery of some of the readings not up to the standards set in the other sections (you can opt to turn the sound off here). There’s no shortage of excellent material on both discs, and you’ll find many different ways to explore it, but a search function and a proper index would make navigation more efficient. These minor lapses notwithstanding, the concept of both titles is so appealing, and the choice of work so thoughtful, that you’ll want to spend serious time with them.
– November 1995