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Sibelius: Early Years/Maturity & Silence
Sibelius Early Years/Maturity Silence
Actors: Sibelius, Ashkenazy, Soderstrom, Belkin
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
NR     2007     2hr 31min

These documentaries examine the life of the Finnish composer using narrative, archival photographs and film, and musical performances.


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Movie Details

Actors: Sibelius, Ashkenazy, Soderstrom, Belkin
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Classical, Documentary
Studio: Christopher Nupen
Format: DVD - Color - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/27/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 2hr 31min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: German, Italian, French, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

Long overdue
Peter T. Sipos | Riyadh, Saudi Arabia | 01/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Transfer of this excellent two-part documentary to DVD is long overdue. I rented it many years ago on VHS from a library. The life of the twentieth century composer is explored through narrative, old photos, musical exerpts and ravishing scenic segments showing his native Finland. More than a standard documentary, this film really brings to life the man with all his frailties and great achievements. The movie opens with a performance of the Andante Festivo conducted by the composer late in life - that performance sets the tone for the entire film - inspired, troubled, nostalgic and deeply felt. The musical performances by the likes of Vladimir Ashkenazy are superb. All in all, a moving and revealing experience. For those interested in such movie-making, try also "Roots" on the Hungarian composer Bela Bartok. Both are highly recommended."
A Riveting Two-Part Documentary about Sibelius and His Music
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 04/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Christopher Nupen is one of the most creative and talented of the video documentarians of the classical music world. It all began many years ago when he made the wonderful film about du Pré, Barenboim, Perlman, Zukerman and Mehta -- the so-called 'Israeli Mafia.' That film has never gone out of style and was brought out on DVD a few years ago, made available for a new generation of viewers. This film, also originally on VHS, was made in the 1980s and is just now coming out on DVD. The transfer, I must say, is simply magnificent; I certainly would not have known it was originally on VHS if I hadn't seen it in its original form. The visuals are crisp, the sound excellent.

The subject is the life and, more important, the music of Jean Sibelius and the two sections are 'The Early Years' and 'Maturity and Silence.' Nupen, who wrote, directed and narrates the film, takes us through the important biographical details of the composer's life, including his struggle in his thirties with alcoholism on which he conquered only after he had a growth removed from his throat and was told that drinking and smoking would aggravate it and possibly hasten its return, and of the thirty year silence during which he strove to complete an Eighth Symphony but which he finally consigned to flames.

The visuals comprise many gorgeous views of the fields, forests and lakes of Sibelius's Finland, as well as a fascinating black-and-white silent film of the elderly Sibelius. There are also many views of photographs and paintings of the composer and his wife, as well as visits to Ainola, the country home where he and wife Aino lived for over fifty years.

There are some marvelously played and photographed excerpts from all but one of his symphonies -- the Sixth, for whatever reason, is mentioned but none of its music played -- all done by the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra with Vladimir Ashkenazy, a real Sibelian, conducting. There is also excerpts from Finlandia, Kullervo, the Karelia Suite and Tapiola by the same artists as well as a sizable excerpt from the Violin Concerto with Boris Belkin, violin. There are a couple of songs (in Swedish, as most of Sibelius's songs were) sung by Elisabeth Söderström. The first, with orchestral accompaniment, is 'Since then I have questioned no further', and the second, with Ashkenazy playing the piano accompaniment, the intensely dramatic 'Jubal.'

There is a clip of Sibelius's first composition, 'Water Drops', for two violins, written at age 11. The film begins and ends with an excerpt from a recording, made in 1939, of Sibelius conducting his 'Andante festivo.'

This is a brilliant and riveting account, aided by Nupen's beautifully written narration, of the artistic life of one of the twentieth century's great composers and one hopes that it will again be seen widely, as it was originally when shown on television.

Although Amazon doesn't indicate it, this DVD is in a format that can be played worldwide. Sound is LPCM Stereo, narration is in English, subtitles are in German, Spanish, French and Italian. Total time (which includes a couple of clips about other Nupen films) is 151 minutes; the Sibelius films run just over 100 mins.

Strongly recommended.

Scott Morrison"