last these two famous films, made for television, are available
The Trout is
the film of a now legendary performance
on August 30th, 1969.
Daniel Barenboim, Jacqueline du
Pré, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman,
and Zubin Mehta, all old friends,
found time in their busy schedules
to perform the Quintet, and celebrate
the optimism of the “new” Royal
Festival Hall and its visions for
music. They were all young, vibrant
with enthusiasm and vigour. There
was a tangible sense of excitement
in the atmosphere. The short film
follows them as they arrive in London,
showing them as human beings. Perlman
plays for his baby son, Mehta bows
on Perlman's violin and they jokingly
kiss. They horse around, full of
vitality, and channel that verve
into a wonderful, vivid performance,
shown in full at the end.
years later, Jacqueline du Pré was to say “we were five friends,
united by our youth and the pleasure we had in making music
together, any excuse for fun and music. When we played the
Trout it would have evaporated, as all concerts do, but Christopher
Nupen saw the film in it and suddenly, there was a statement
of our happiness! ...... When I see the Trout it gives me
back that feeling, which will always be so precious to me”.
After nearly forty years, we can still feel that excitement.
Jacqueline du Pré is no longer with us, her career cut tragically
short. The much maligned South Bank is being renovated, and
’sixties fashions look ludicrous now. But the happiness and
optimism of those moments remain forever, captured in film.
At the time, the film was controversial because it showed
musicians in an informal setting. Far from harming musicianship,
the film shows how music-making really “works”. It shows musicians
interacting, picking up on musical cues and ideas just as
others pick up on non-verbal body language. Music-making isn't
a mechanical process. This film lets us follow the instinctive
communication between musicians almost as if we were part
of their circle. There is “art” in filming music too
Just as Barenboim, du Pré, Perlman, Zukerman and Mehta
were on the threshold of great things, so was Christopher
Nupen, when he made The Trout. As Jacqueline du Pré said,
he saw dramatic possibilities, and sensed that film could
be used in new, imaginative ways to enhance the musical experience.
His approach was far more original than simply to replicate
performance, or to fit it into a narrative, like Ken Russell's
biographies of Delius and Elgar, worthy as those are.
Greatest Love and Greatest Sorrow is Nupen's exploration of Schubert. Using
Schubert's own words from letters, and texts from his favourite
song settings, Nupen gets Schubert to “speak” for himself.
This is reinforced by drawings and paintings of the time,
and plenty of music. Performers include Ashkenazy, Sawallisch
and Andreas Schmidt, the baritone, dressed in period costume,
who looks like Schubert himself, though
taller and more handsome. Schubert's friends nicknamed him
Schubert the narrator means that the film can go straight
to the composer’s inner life, on his own terms, “Greatest
Love and Greatest Sorrow” refers to a dream Schubert had in
1822, which seemed significant enough that he wrote it down
on waking. The text is quoted in full, because it seems to
encapsulate Schubert's inner feelings about being a composer.
He realised that to be a true artist, he had to find his own
path, even if that meant isolation. The film amplifies these
ideas through careful choice of music : Heine's Die Stadt
and Müller's Die Nebensonnen, for example, and
a resounding Der Doppelgänger at the end. Yet Schubert
was to die young, his full potential never known. His love
of life and of music made his death all the more tragic. Such
a waste, such lost opportunities! Underlying his later, beautiful
music hangs a sense of mortality that may have been part of
the Romantic ethos but was also deeply personal to Schubert
the man. It is a lovely, sensitive film, ideal for those wanted
to feel closer to the composer and understand him.
correlation with Jacqueline du Pré is left unsaid.