While the Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina was commissioned to write a second violin concerto for Anne-Sophie Mutter in the early 1990s, only in 2007 did she finally get around to it, with the premiere of Violin Concerto No. 2 "In Tempus Praesens" scheduled from Mutter, the Berlin Philharmonic and conductor Simon Rattle. Mutter ultimately recorded this for DG with other forces, and there's a competing recording on BIS where Vadim Gluzman is the soloist. I must admit that I didn't like "In tempus praesens" much, and consider it one of Gubaidulina's weakest pieces, but as an ardent fan of the composer I was nonetheless attracted by this DVD.
Hearing that Gubaidulina was working on the piece, filmmaker Jan Schmidt-Garre wanted to make a documentary about the process, one that would focus on the work itself and not on the composer's life and times.
After a brief prelude, Gidon Kremer talking about Gubaidulina's first violin concerto "Offertorium", we first see Gubaidulina at her home preparing sketches for the "In tempus praesens". In terms of this second violin concerto's programme, Gubaidulina was inspired by her and her dedicatee sharing the name Sophia, and so she alludes to Sophianism, a early 20th-century Russian Orthodox heresy ultimately condemned by the Russian Orthodox Church, but one popular among Soviet dissidents of Gubaidulina's generation who had limited access to religious reading material. Since the early 1980s, Gubaidulina has heavily relied on numerical mysticism to determine the form of her works, and she explains on camera how "In tempus praesens" makes use of the Lucas Series (seen as a "dissonant" counterpart to the "consonant" Fibonacci series) and another series of numbers extracted from a Bach chorale. Once the work is finished, the documentary covers Mutter and the Berlin Philharmonic musicians preparing for the premiere. The details of how world-class performers get started on a brand-new piece will probably interest many classical music fans.
Unfortunately, there is no complete performance of "In tempus praesens" here, and the documentary itself clocks in at less than 1 hour with no other material on this DVD. So, this joins the myriad other classical music DVDs that seem bad value since they are at full price but have little on them. Die-hard Gubaidulina fans might want this in their collection, but less committed classical listeners may find that it's not worth it.