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.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Well-reasoned and elegant film

The artist documentary film, once the province of awkward talking heads, banal background music and blurry sideways camera swipes across canvases, has raised its game considerably in the age of HD video. Some of the very best of the high definition films of this sort are from the Exhibition On Film series seen in cinemas and released on DVD by Seventh Art. Though the new Michelangelo release doesn't document a major event like the Bosch film, which presented virtually all of his paintings on the 500th anniversary of Bosch's birth, there's a compelling story behind Michelangelo's life and art that makes for an engaging as well as educational experience. The artist's life is full of incident; he's referred to in the film as the first celebrity artist. His greatness as a sculptor, painter, draftsman, poet and architect means there is no lack of masterpieces to look at; one moves quickly from the monumental David statue to the Vatican frescoes to a lovely poem set to music to an exquisite drawing that shows the artist's intimate knowledge of human anatomy. The experts, English and Italian, are fluent but keep their insights short and sweet. The establishing shots of landscape and buildings provide context, especially those taken in the quarries of Carrara, where Michelangelo found much of his marble. This is a well-reasoned and elegant presentation of the difficult but ultimately triumphant life of one of the most accomplished artists in history.

Filming Michelangelo: Love and Death

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