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Dvorak - In Love? [DVD] [NTSC]
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The Cello Concerto by Dvorák is one of the most popular concertos ever written and one of Dvorák's last ever works, but a strange and rather tragic, story lies behind its composition. Renowned director Tony Palmer investigates the story behind the music in the wonderful 'Dvorák - In Love?'.
In the early 1980s Tony Palmer visited Prague looking for books about Dvorák, at the time Czechoslovakia's most famous composer, surprisingly there were none. In September 1988 he filmed a new recording of the Cello Concerto in Prague, with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the great Czech maestro Václav Neumann, the soloist was Julian Lloyd-Webber, already making a reputation as one of the leading British cellists of his generation. He went on to explore how this stunning piece of music came to existence.
'Dvorák - In Love?' was originally a co-production with Czechoslovak Television, but when they saw the finished film and its political content, in tears they explained why it could not be shown in Communist-ruled Czechoslovakia. Two years later the Russians were finally thrown out and this film was the very first documentary to be shown on the newly-liberated Czech television.
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Secondly, it reveals the political context, the ideas of freedom and Czech identity which feature in the documentary and which are still very relevant with the struggle for freedom we can see in some countries around the world at present.
Thirdly, it gives us an insight into the life of Antonin Dvorak and the fascinating -yet tragic- story behind the writing of the cello concerto. This is done in a very clever way by the narrator. There are similarities with the lives of other composers (Elgar comes to mind) and how they affected their works, particularly the late ones.
The whole documentary is just under an hour long, extremely informative and entertaining. It's truly amazing how much effort goes into the recording of a concerto, how everybody from musicians and conductor to sound engineers contribute to the final result. Now that Julian Lloyd Webber has retired from playing the cello this documentary acquires extra special significance, as it shows the cellist at the top of his career. Surely he must have learnt alot collaborating with so many different great orchestras and conductors worldwide. It wouldn't surprise me at all if we were to see him come back as conductor before long.