This one hour television
special covers the history of the Berlin
Philharmonic Orchestra from its founding
in the 1880s, using its five permanent
music directors (Artur Nikisch, Wilhelm
Furtwängler, Herbert von Karajan,
Claudio Abbado and Sir Simon Rattle)
as stopping points.
The bulk of the program
is interview, mainly with the conductors
(with Bernard Haitink and Roger Norrington
thrown in for good measure) and with
the principal bassist, the concertmaster,
a retired timpanist and a retired cellist.
Musical excerpts are brief and are used
more to augment the introduction of
a particular conductor than to give
one a sample of the orchestra’s music-making.
While this program
would certainly be interesting as a
television special, I cannot imagine
why one would be interested in repeated
viewings. This leads me to the questions:
1) Why does this kind of stuff get onto
the market? And 2) who buys it?
There is some interesting
footage from the WWII years and the
sequence from the time of the fall of
the Berlin Wall is rather moving. We
also learn a bit about the orchestra’s
democratic way of running itself, and
it is kind of refreshing to hear that
even von Karajan did not have total
control of things.
There is absolutely
no documentation, no booklet, no notes
on the jacket, nothing telling us about
the contents of the program. This is
inexcusable and further detracts from
what is already a questionable purchase.
I would rent this one, as it is an interesting
hour, but I do not think that it is
worth the investment of money or shelf
space to own.
An interesting hour,
but not worth the investment of money
or shelf space to own. ... see Full