The Italian Character is the story of this well-respected Italian orchestra. It charts the years since Antonio Pappano became its director in 2005. The video concerns itself with studio sessions for the planning and performance of concerts and follows the conductor for an interview in the town of his Italian roots. He speaks knowledgeably and with evident honesty about his feelings about music and clearly demonstrates enthusiasm for his work.
This video is clearly motivated by a team of musicians, passionate about their orchestra, its achievements and wishing to record a documentary of their involvement. Against this backdrop we focus on Pappano. A selection of the musicians are singled out to provide input about their interaction with the conductor. They must however find themselves continually irritated by the unnecessary oral noises he makes whilst conducting; there is no purpose for them.
The booklet in four languages loses little time in getting round to saying that it portrays ‘a great project’ and shows ‘how the sound ripens from the first rehearsal to the final applause of the sold-out music hall’. That said, from the booklet I get the feeling that this is as much a promotional video as one whose intention is to impart general information to an outside audience.
Technically, the production is very good and the soundtrack by Davide Pesola is well recorded. A nicely played Scheherazade (Rimsky-Korsakov) comes across well.
Nowhere does it expressly tell us that the orchestra is based in Rome, and maybe I missed the time-frame during which the recording was made.
This should be of some general interest outside Italy and amongst those who follow Pappano as a music director of the Royal Opera House. That said, I see sales directed more to those keen on having a record of this particular orchestra rather than to non-Italian collectors wishing to be entertained by this documentary. For me, as someone who works closely with the production side of an orchestra, it has been interesting to discover how another musical institution operates. Perhaps as time moves on this recording could be as respected as those interesting 1930s historic documents of archive film of Beecham and Elgar at the BBC and Abbey Road studios.
Raymond J Walker