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A Wayfarer's Journey: Listening to Mahler
A Wayfarer's Journey Listening to Mahler
Genres: Television, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
NR     2007     1hr 30min


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Movie Details

Genres: Television, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Television, Classical, Documentary
Studio: Pbs (Direct)
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 05/15/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Music to elate, inspire and heal by Mahler
William A. Hollman | Newton, MA, USA | 05/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Mahler's life and music are described and played with joy by young and old musicians. But the conversations between conductor, Christoph Eschenbach ,and pediatric oncologist, Richard O'Reilly are profoundly moving and inspiring. The power of Mahler's music to enter every human emotion in every listener makes this fine film a powerful and positive experience to be shared and played often."
Well worth watching
S. A. Felton | southern OR USA | 07/08/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I rented this despite the 2-star rating from other
reviewers at a certain web site I won't mention here.
I can't understand why it was rated so low. It's a very
decent view on Mahler's life and music, biographical
but with an emphasis on how his life experiences affected
his music. Dreyfuss is somewhat miscast as Mahler's voice,
but they could not have found a better conductor than
Eschenbach to explain Mahler's music. I saw Maestro
Eschenbach conduct the entire Mahler 9-symphony cycle
(I actually missed #8, too bad!) in Houston. I found the
part where Eschenbach's life is discussed (it parallels
Mahler's painful childhood) to be very interesting, and
his insights about Mahler's music are second to none. I
am not certain the documentary makers actually make a
convincing tie-in between Mahler's music and the
discussions with the physicians, but this documentary is
well worth watching. For Mahler experts it might seem a
bit superficial, but for anyone else who likes classical
music it's very good.
A Whole that is Less Than the Sum of Its Parts
D. DEGEORGE | Ellicott City, MD USA | 12/13/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This DVD is a little like Mahler symphonies: it starts slow and seemingly disjointed and gradually comes together; however, unlike a Mahler symphony, it is not great. It has much to recommend it, but the whole is less than the sum of the parts. It suffers from two main problems, a lack of focus and a partial failure to act on the very truth that it states, namely, that creative genius comes from the heart more than from the head. This would have been a much more effective disc if it had simply concentrated more on the joy (and pain, too) of making music rather than drowning the subject in words.

The best parts of the program are when it draws the parallel between Christoph Eschenbach's anguished childhood and Mahler's struggles and when it demonstrates, via the example of the bright young musicians it interviews, one of its other theses, which is that children have a way of getting to the heart of a matter, whether it be honesty of expression or fortitude in the face of hardship. Even though the musicians are young adults rather than children, they retain the freshness and sincerity associated with the latter.

The production pursues the theme of music as healer and expresser of the metaphysical fairly consistently, yet it still seems to meander and lack focus, a fault further aggravated by the use of what amounts to three narrators. I believe that the program would have been stronger had the narration been limited to Mahler the composer (as voiced by Richard Dreyfuss) and Christoph Eschenbach the interpreter. The presence of a third narrator (Kathleen Chalfant) simply makes the program seem more scattered, a Wayfarer that is a bit lost.

I was also a little annoyed by the navel-gazing intellectualizing about metaphysics and spirituality. Even though these are indeed the subjects with which Mahler was dealing, their treatment in this presentation left me cold for most of the first hour. Nothing explains Mahler better than his music itself, which is easily proved by the Abbado Mahler concert DVDs; and for those seeking verbal edification on Mahler, Bernstein does it so much better than the mish-mash of voices in this film. The two esteemed physicians do a creditable job in their roles, but are often a distraction here. Dr. Balfour Mount seemed dryly academic during the first half of the show but came through in the end with a much more immediate and engaging discussion of the coexistence of life with the awareness of death The scenes in a children's hospital, however, are rather a stretch when it comes to relevancy; the nature photography is more effective, as are the various paintings.

The disc is somewhat anemic as an audio production. To many it will not matter that it does not offer a 5.1 surround track, but many discs from so recent a time (2007) do offer that as an option. Still, a stereo soundtrack can be very effective; but this one is not: the voiceovers are so loud that the music is relegated to secondary sonic importance.

As an informative TV program, this production is good enough; but it is simply outclassed by several other DVDs that cover much of the same ground. Before investing in this disc buy one or more of the Bernstein films (Little Drummer Boy: Essay on Mahler by Leonard Bernstein and 4 Ways to Say Farewell - or just go all out and acquire all Bernstein's essays as well as performances in this indispensable set: Mahler - The Symphonies plus Das Lied von der Erde Boxset / Leonard Bernstein, Wiener Philharmoniker, London Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra) first for a musical explanation in words, Great Composers - Mahler for biography, and the Abbado recordings of the symphonies 5 Mahler - Symphony No. 5 / Claudio Abbado, Lucerne Festival Orchestra, 6 Mahler: Symphony No. 6 [DVD Video], & 9 Mahler - Symphony No. 9 / Claudio Abbado, Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, Accademia Di Santa Cecilia, Rome for the music itself, the true window into Mahler's soul. These last three, especially the very last, produce, by the way, some of the best sound I have ever heard in my living room. (There are also some other Mahler symphonies conducted by Mahler on DVD, but I have not seen them myself.) In the meantime, I'd suggest you rent "A Wayfarer's Journey" or watch it instantly on the Internet if you are a subscriber to a certain Web-based DVD rental outfit.