Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Monday, November 2, 2015

New insights into a vital artist

From June 24, 2015:

In my favourite parts of this new Richard Strauss documentary director Eric Schulz lets his camera linger on the faces of the artists and scholars who have been interpreting the great composer’s life and music, as they watch, along with us, Strauss at the podium. This goes way beyond the ‘talking heads’ that are a cliche of cultural documentaries. We hear amazing insights from people like pianist Stefan Mickisch, musicologist Walter Werbeck, and soprano Brigitte Fassbaender. But more importantly Schulz catches their expressions as they make new connections, thinking about Strauss as a conductor, a composer and a human being.

Schulz did the same thing in his award winning 2011 documentary Carlos Kleiber: Traces to Nowhere, which is really a splendid film. In the Strauss film he introduces some very appealing young artists: actors Henning Hartmann and Sina Reiss, who read letters by Strauss and his strong-willed wife Pauline; and soprano Emma Moore and pianist Diana Al Hassani, who participate in an amazing lesson with the great singer Brigitte Fassbaender. In speeches and letters Strauss talks about German music and art and culture, and the hope that it might someday be reborn as artists come together in a vital way. Eric Schulz demonstrates in his excellent films just such a coming together of the best and most profound ideas and experiences, in a new Germany and a new Europe.

Thanks to Schulz and his diverse cast I feel that I know much more about Strauss than I did before. Schulz is building as fine a series of classical music documentaries as the amazing early 1960s films of Ken Russell. I hope they serve as a model for future work in this genre.

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