Riccardo Chailly: 'Music-A Journey for Life'

By Shirley, Hugo | Gramophone, April 2016 | Go to article overview

Riccardo Chailly: 'Music-A Journey for Life'


Shirley, Hugo, Gramophone


Riccardo Chailly [G][DVD] 'Music--A Journey for Life' A film by Paul Smaczny Grieg Piano Concerto, Op 16 Lars Vogt pf Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly Accentus (F) [DVD] ACC20254 (54' + 40' * NTSC * 16:9 * DTS5.1 & PCM stereo * 0 * s)

Beethoven * Mendelssohn [DVD][BR] Beethoven Violin Concerto, Op 61 (a) Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, Op 64 (b) JS Bach Solo Violin Partitas: No 1, BWV1002-Sarabande (c); No 2, BWV1004--Sarabande (d) Nikolaj Znaider vn (ab) Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly Accentus (F)[DVD] ACC20345; (F)[BR] ACC10345 (85' * NTSC * 16:9 * 1080I * DTS-HD MA5.1, DTS5.1 & PCM stereo * 0) Recorded live, (bd) September 2012: (ac) October 2014

There's inevitably a slightly melancholy tinge to this pair of DVDs featuring Riccardo Chailly and the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, the orchestra he announced he was leaving--unexpectedly--in September last year. This is particularly the case with Paul Smaczny's gentle film 'Music--A Journey for Life', whose central episode consists of footage of Chailly rehearsing Mahler's Fifth Symphony with the venerable Leipzig band, interspersed with several of its members explaining why they enjoy working with him so much: they're 'a powerful animal,' says one, 'looking for a goal,' which is clearly what the conductor provides.

We cut to Mahler again at the close, with the final minutes of the Sixth Symphony, a carefully assembled piece of film-making that takes us from Chailly quietly studying and annotating the score, through moments of pre-concert ritual, to his arrival on stage. Then, as the credits arrive, we cut to disarming footage of the maestro negotiating a winding Alpine road on a moped to the strains of La traviata.

Smaczny's tone throughout seems to match his subject, who comes across as considered in conversation, patient in preparation and calmly authoritative on the podium; there's no mistaking the steely determination beneath the urbane surface, even if we don't ever see it explicitly.

A brief account of his early years under the shadow of his composer father leads to footage of his own family life and mentions of important mentors, Abbado and Karajan among them (it was the latter who engineered his first concert with the Gewandhausorchester in 1986). …

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