Academic journal article Notes

Leaving Home. Orchestral Music in the 20th Century, Vol. 1: Dancing on a Volcano

Academic journal article Notes

Leaving Home. Orchestral Music in the 20th Century, Vol. 1: Dancing on a Volcano

Article excerpt

Leaving Home. Orchestral Music in the 20th Century, Vol. 1: Dancing on a Volcano. DVD. City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra / Simon Rattle. With Felicity Palmer and Gidon Kremer. Leipzig, Germany: Arthaus Musik, 2005. 102033. $24.99.

Originally produced for video in 1996, "Leaving Home," is the first of a seven-part series re-issued on DVD and devoted, as its title indicates, to "Orchestral Music in the 20th Century." If the other volumes hold to the quality of this one, the collection will be of considerable attraction not merely to the lay listener interested in the subject but more so to teachers of twentieth-century music, a difficult occupation at the best of times. By the brilliant, closeup portraits of musicians in the act of performing some rather astringent twentieth-century repertoires, students will learn what is so difficult to teach in a classroom-that musicians actually play this stuff, and what is more, draw from it an evident pleasure comparable to (if it doesn't exceed) the pleasure of performing earlier, more familiar repertoires.

The program is a blend of lecture (Sir Simon Rattle, usually seated at the keyboard) , documentary with voice over (again Rattle, with either period stills or short period films), and illustrative excerpts (usually the aforementioned closeup shots of performing musicians, but sometimes pleasant if innocuous shots of a broad and gentle waterfall [which, given the Viennese centricity of the subject, is a little too reminiscent of the sewer crawl in Orson Welles's The Third Man]). The lecture is undergraduate survey material, largely the received view of Fin-de-siècle artistic turmoil and revolution. Rattle is a little wooden, and quite evidently reading a prompt screen. But the package is congenially produced, and the average undergraduate should find it easily comprehensible. Presumably Alexandra Maria Dielitz, the author of the text, has taught, for the text reads like a carefully considered lecture for university entry-level music majors or for general arts students, at any baccalaureate level with an interest in the subject matter. …

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