Search - Keeping Score: The Making of a Performance - Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony on DVD

Keeping Score: The Making of a Performance - Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony
Keeping Score The Making of a Performance - Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony
Actor: Michael Tilson Thomas
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
NR     2005


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Movie Details

Actor: Michael Tilson Thomas
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Classical, Documentary
Studio: San Francisco Sym
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 03/08/2005
Original Release Date: 01/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2005
Release Year: 2005
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
Edition: Classical
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Breaking a barrier an educational tool
Lawrence J. White | New Westminster, British Columbia Canada | 03/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I first saw parts of this DVD on PBS and was so intrigued with it, I went immediately to the web site and ordered it. This has to be a 'must purchase' for anybody who is wanting to learn what it is like to prepare for a large concert of a major work.
Michael Tilson Thomas brings the viewer much insight as to what he is trying to achieve from his interpretation of this very familiar piece. Little things such as suggesting a different bow movement makes a huge difference in the presentation.
An excellent educational tool, for those who want to learn more of the background of this piece plus a look at the various instruments that are 'featured' in this piece.
I highly recommend this and hope this is only the first in a series. 'Twould be nice to see other orchestras doing this with other presentations as well!
Well Done MTT & SFO
L J White
New Westminster BC
Behind the Scenes at the Preparation of a Tchaikovsky Sympho
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 10/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I can't praise this DVD highly enough for those who are curious about how a conductor and orchestra prepare and put together a performance of a symphonic work, in this case the magnificent Tchaikovsky Fourth Symphony. We get a very generous -- and at times humorous, and always genial -- narration by Michael Tilson Thomas as he prepares a performance with his orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony (which is surely one of the country's great orchestras although it is not generally listed, wrongly so in my opinion, with the so-called Big Five American orchestras). We also focus in on several of the individual players to find out how they prepare for the rehearsals. There is also a scene in which the orchestra talks with a group of children about how the orchestra works, and this includes a funny moment where the piccolo player discusses how nervous she gets playing that incredibly difficult solo in the the Tchaikovsky Fourth's third movement. The rehearsal scenes are then followed by an exciting and fully satisfying live performance of the piece in San Francisco's marvelous Davies Symphony Hall. Sound and video are first-rate.

I've attended many rehearsals of orchestras and this DVD certainly catches the feeling of this intricate and complex team project. I think it would be very enjoyable for anyone interested in this general subject.


Scott Morrison"
Strikes a nice middle ground, good performance (4.5 stars)
commontone | 05/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Within the first few minutes of the "documentary" section of this DVD, I felt like groaning. Michael Tilson Thomas is driving his car through San Francisco, saying things like "Music is all around us. The honking of horns...the bells of a church..." (etc. etc.). I had expected more than a grade-school approach to explaining symphonic music.

Fortunately, my fears were unfounded. The docu does take a genial and somewhat light approach to explaining Tchaikovsky's amazing 4th Symphony, as well as the preparations a conductor and his orchestra go through to create an inspired performance. But it is not aimed at young kids. They'll enjoy it, definitely, but adults, even musicians like myself who have performed this piece, will have enough to chew on as well.

There is no in-depth analysis here, but MTT does explain very well the emotional, interpretive side of preparing to conduct the piece. He gives the composition a context by explaining some of Tchaikovsky's life, not shying away from the fact that the symphony was an expression of his fears and conflicts over being gay.

My favorite aspect is probably the behind-the-scenes insight of watching how a professional orchestra prepares for a concert: We see the concertmaster going through the score with MTT, helping the conductor to find the proper bowings and articulations to bring his vision to life. We see the orchestra librarians marking all the parts with these bowings and other articulations/comments/etc that MTT's interpretation has formulated. After the first day of rehearsal, MTT and the solo oboist work to shape the famous solo in the 2nd movement. Throughout, several orchestra members share their thoughts on the piece and the role their instrument plays. We also see footage of MTT meditating before he walks on stage, and striding happily to meet his orchestra backstage after the performance.

MTT proves to be an engaging narrator. He doesn't have to pander or "act" enthusiastically to make this topic exciting, because he so clearly lives for these performances and loves every minute of what he does. His joy in music-making is infectious and clearly has spread to his orchestra; this is a pleasant contrast to watching the stolid faces under Karajan's baton, for example. He's not Leonard Bernstein and he's not trying to be, though that comparison will inevitably be made. He does this his own way and he succeeds. But though he's different I have no problem considering him Bernstein's 21st century counterpart in "classical music outreach." Nobody else is really doing this sort of thing right now on MTT's scale, and he does it as well as one could hope for.

Overall this documentary finds a pleasant middle ground that is hard to nail in this sort of endeavor - its touch is light enough for anyone to enjoy, but offered enough substance to sustain my interest. Those looking for serious analysis should look elsewhere; that's not what this aims to provide, but it succeeds at its intended purpose.

The accompanying uncut live performance, while not really one of my favorites of this piece, is still quite good and will prove very satisfying for those who have enjoyed the insights given in the documentary."
Behind the baton
V. Johnson | Cedar Falls, Iowa | 11/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Michael Tilson Thomas and members of the San Francisco Symphony show us the immense preparation for their performance of Tchaikovsky's Symphony #4. We are given a rare look at how the interpretation of the conductor is communicated to the musicians and some individual musicians' problems as they prepare to be a part of the wonder that is Tchaikovsky's 4th. The live performance of the 4th is an entrancing look at conductor and orchestra at work. This album is part of the excellent "Keeping Score" series with MTT and the SFO Symphony."