"Truly there would be reason to go mad were it not for music
Stephen Pletko | London, Ontario, Canada | 03/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's time we change our perception of Tchaikovsky from gay mad Russian on the verge of a breakdown and put the record straight."
The above quotation comes from the beginning of this documentary that presents the life and works of whom many consider to be the greatest Russian composer who ever lived, Piotr Ilrich Tchaikovsky (1840 to 1893). Besides learning about the man behind the music, we also get to hear, through actual performances, beautiful extracts of his lyrical, romantic, and deeply emotional music.
Throughout this documentary are brief comments made by respected others such as pianists, conductors, violinists, opera directors, historians, and even ballerinas. Beware that some of these comments are not in English so make sure you turn on the English subtitles.
This film is narrated by the actor (known especially for his Shakespearean talents) Kenneth Branagh and the voice of Tchaikovsky is performed by the great actor, Sir Ian McKellan.
What amazed me about this film is that, despite being only an hour long, it covers an incredible amount regarding Tchaikovsky's life. With the addition of actual performances of Tchaikovsky's works, this documentary is also incredibly enjoyable and not ever boring.
I will give Tchaikovsky's principal works below and include a specific extract example(s) of such a work from this film in parenthesis:
(1) 8 operas (Eugene Onegin; The Queen of Spades)
(2) 3 ballets (Swan Lake)
(3) Orchestral music: 7 symphonies (#6 "Pathetique," #4, #5); 3 piano concertos (#1); 1 violin concerto; symphonic poems and overtures (Romeo and Juliet)
Finally, the DVD (the one released in 2006) is perfect in picture and sound quality. It has no extras.
In conclusion, for those looking to find a quick way to learn everything about Tchaikovsky and become aquainted with his magnificent music, this is the film to see!!
(1997; 1 hr; full screen; 7 scenes; made for TV)