6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Bernstein lived his life in the public eye from his 1947 radio debut conducting the New York Philharmonic with only a few hours rehearsal for the indisposed Bruno Walter to his death in 1990, he was the "Maestro par excellence" - a composer (with a foot in many camps), conductor, educator, political activist, polymath - an inspiration. To have him (and others) as a guide to Mahler, a composer whose music he loved and performed while others did not, is the best.
Mahler's music with its huge canvas - symphonies should include the whole world, he said - and its musical complexities are a challenge to all.
Produced by Deutsche Grammophon, the quality is (as one would expect from such an illustrious source) superb, especially considering its genesis as a 1985 televised essay.
Like all the best teachers, Bernstein loved an audience but not everyone is able to perform to the cold camera lens as Bernstein could; he was obviously able to look through the unfriendly lens to see the huge audiences looking admiringly up at the stage. It comes accompanied by a slim volume (German and English) and on it, chain-smoking most of the time to add to that already deep, gravelly voice, Bernstein talks straight to the camera (making the viewer feel quite intimate with him), performs examples on the piano or conducts the London Symphony, Wiener Philharmoniker and the Israeli Philharmonic orchestras in further examples or performances.
With such a glittering cast under Lennie's inspired baton, it could only inspire. It does.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 August 2012
I have been reading Fischer's recent biography of Mahler and was, as a result, a little concerned that a broadcase originally made in the 1908s would be dangerously out of date. With a number of points from Alma Mahler now discredited I was concerned that there would be a lot of erroneous material in this film.
But the good news is that it is - I really shouldn't have been surprised - about Mahler's music. Bernstein's style of communication is oh-so appropriate and his conviction is infectious to say the least. Just in a small, 90 minute period you will learn so much about the actual interpretation of Mahler's music, which will in turn help you to understand Bernstein's motivation as a Mahler conductor. The idea of how Mahler's internal contradictions find their expression in the music is give a really nice spin here. Most of the ideas are not necessarily revelations in themselves, but the way that Bernstein stitches it together really is! How interesting to hear of Bernstein's views about the true identity of the Little Drummer Boy and the child singing about their imagined Heaven.
So if you couple this with the various documentaries in Bernstein's Mahler Symphony Box set you will be given a very interesting perspective in a comparably short period of time. The impact that this has now had on my Mahler listening has been enormous - truly an example of a small investment of time paying extensive dividends. 'Ewig', indeed. Watch the film and you will know what I mean.