Magazine article Gramophone

King-Dabbs's Solti Film as Broadcast in November 2012

Magazine article Gramophone

King-Dabbs's Solti Film as Broadcast in November 2012

Article excerpt

'Maestro or Mephisto' (DVD)

The Real Georg Solti'

A film by Andy King-Dabbs

Art Haus Musik (F) (DVD) 101 662

(59' * NTSC * 16:9 * PCM stereo * 0 * s)

This likeable documentary was first broadcast in the UK last November, following the centenary of Solti's birth. The feature shows what can be achieved on a relatively modest budget with a judicious mix of existing footage and new interview material. That said, I'm not sure whether anyone would want to watch it over and over again. We are spared the portentous American voiceover of Georg Wubbolt's Solti--Journey of aL fetime (C Major, 1/13) but Peter Maniura's The Making of a Maestro (Art Haus, 2/02), amore extended valedictory portrait currently subsumed in Euro Arts' 100th-anniversary Solti DVD box-set, is in no way outgunned and would seem to be the source of much of the material redeployed in the new film.

Solti's achievements were remarkable, achieved initially in the face of European anti-Semitism, and the familiar career highlights are duly outlined by director Andy King-Dabbs. Light relief, including discreet allusions to his incorrigible flirtatiousness, is provided by Dame Kiri and second wife Valerie. The customary exaggerations creep in. Yes, Solti transformed standards at both Covent Garden and the Chicago SO but is it fair to describe those institutions as provincial outfits prior to his arrival? His landmark studio version of The Ring is stated to be the world's best-selling (as opposed to culturally most significant) classical recording. Presumably that depends on what is now to be defined as classical'. We do hear from dissenting voices. All he did was get in the way,' complains one disgruntled LPO player. Nor does the idiosyncratically jerky baton technique pass without comment.

Amid praise from such distinguished talking heads as Domingo, Gergiev, Gheorghiu and Perahia, we are not that much clearer about what was distinctive about Solti the interpreter. …

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