Modestly Interesting; Irritatingly Edited
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 02/23/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This documentary -- 'Seeking New Shores' -- about Kent Nagano is a companion to the six DVDs in which Nagano conducts Mozart's 'Jupiter Symphony', Beethoven's 'Eroica Symphony', Schumann's 'Rhenish Symphony', Bruckner's 'Eighth Symphony' and Strauss's 'Alpine Symphony', some of which I have reviewed here at Amazon: Brahms: Symphony No. 4, Kent Nagano conducts Classical Masterpieces: Schumann 'Rhenish' Symphony This DVD is focused on Nagano's life, with such scenes as a visit to the the farm near Morro Bay, California where he grew up, clips of his surfing in California, clips of him rehearsing or performing with various of the orchestras and opera houses with which he has been associated, and numerous interview segments with him and various others who have played a role in his career; the latter includes such people as Yvonne Loriod, director William Friedkin, various regisseurs, dramaturgs, musicians and the like. The documentary has a very herky-jerky feel both because the editing of the visual images is almost frenetic -- although not without some gorgeous scenes -- and particularly because the editing of spoken sound and subtitles is wildly out of sync. In the latter instance there is often a complete disconnect between what Nagano (or whoever) is saying, which one can hear underneath the German narration, and the English subtitles for these. One can actually hear Nagano speaking in English, say, while the German narrator is talking about something completely different, and the subtitle is translating a passage that perhaps has not been spoken yet by either of them. The same is true for musical sync: e.g., one can hear a production of 'Salome' while seeing Nagano conducting a symphony orchestra in a concert hall. Terribly distracting, and all the more so for anyone who understands both German and English.
The bottom line is that although one does indeed get an idea of Nagano's personality and some understanding of the forces that made him who he is, there is a ponderous quality to the writing (including what Nagano himself is heard to say in the interview segments) that is made all the more frustrating by the poor editing of the narrative stream.
There is also a 27 minute 'Making of "Kent Nagano Conducts Classical Masterpieces"' documentary that is of moderate interest.
I would suggest that this DVD is probably only for those who are devoted to Nagano and want to experience anything of his (or of him) that is in visual format. The musical aspects of this DVD are so fragmented as to be not particularly rewarding; for that I would recommend one get any or all of the six 'Kent Nagano Conducts Classical Masterpieces' DVDs, each of which includes, in addition to the documentary portions, full performances of the works under discussion.
Menu languages: English, French, Spanish, Japanese; Language of spoken narration: German; Spoken language of the separate 'Making' documentary: English; Subtitle languages for 'Seeking New Shores': English, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese: Subtitles for 'Making': French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese; Running time for 'Seeking New Shores': 58 mins; Running time for 'Making': 27 mins; Picture format 'Shores': 16:9; Picture format 'Making': 4:3 letterbox