Visual version of Solti's "Memoirs"
Eddy Oquendo | New York, New York USA | 10/27/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is a competent and occasionally captivating profile of perhaps the most famous conductor of the second half of the twentieth century. Sir Georg Solti's life was inspiring and dynamic, filled with musical experiences spanning eight decades. For this reason, I agree with one reviewer that the film feels "too-brief." But the brevity of the piece helps to keep the material as dynamic as the man himself.The documentary is basically divided into five segments that flow into one another seamlessly: Solti's early life, up to and including his stint with the Munich Opera; his controversial engagement with the Royal Opera at Covent Garden; the historic studio recording sessions of Wagner's "Ring" cycle with Decca; Solti's encounters with composer Richard Strauss; and Sir Georg's later years with the Chicago Symphony. Of these sequences, I found the famous studio sessions to be the most interesting. As one would expect, interviews with family, friends and colleagues are liberally sprinkled throughout the program. Added to these are numerous location shots of several cities and their music halls, with a trip to the home of Richard Strauss as one of the highlights. Essentially, the film follows the same format as Solti's "Memoirs," which appears to have been worked on simultaneously. The maestro showed great timing to the end, for both works were finished very shortly before his death.Though this documentary is obviously the work of professionals, it lacks the electricity of more creative minds. Nevertheless, the filmmakers managed to produce a fairly engaging film on a limited budget. It appears that a digital camera was used in the process; while the video quality is not film-like, it is generally very sharp and clean. The audio is pleasing, as it should be for material that is musically pregnant. There are no supplements included, not even subtitles. Captions would have been useful, as some in the film, including the subject, are occasionally hard to understand due to their accents.Fans of Solti, and classical music in general, should be interested in considering purchase of this DVD. Those that have read his autobiography may want to pass, since the film covers little that isn't discussed in the book. Some who haven't may prefer to watch the film instead. In any event, this DVD respectably chronicles the life of a great musician."
One Would Expect More, a lot More...
BLee | HK | 07/07/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is just a brief verbal outline of his biography not quite the worthwhile memoirs of a great conductor (or great pianist) where we expect some thoughts or reflections on music, if not insights.
It doesn't talk about music, composer, or any musician alive or dead, nor any orchestra at all. It only barely borders upon music like on Bartok, he told us he had taken only 6 weeks' lesson from him. Other than that, Bartok was very soft spoken. That is all!
Visually, we could see he marked on the score plus some short clips of him rehearsing/conducting in a performance, and the well known fact that he pays much attention to rhythm.
We are also told how he tamed Chicago Symphony Orchestra which was in fact well trained by Reiner in any event. We can also told that music had brought him great happiness. Yes, we were brought to some of the great music halls and also the Budapest Academy of Music, the one found by Liszt. So they use Kawai grand pianos... in this DVD there isn't any inspiration, insight or depth.
It is however not too boring to watch it as the visual effects are quite good, albeit that Sir George was very old and spoke with a heavy accent. But I am sure I won't go back to again."
Brisk but memorable
J. Anderson | Monterey, CA USA | 09/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An efficient introduction to Solti's life and legacy, on the lean side, but not an ungenerous film. Quite a bit of Solti's own comments gets lost between the echo of his accent and his expressive way of speaking - subtitles would be useful. I wanted more on his personal and professional relationship with Bartok, and more of his Mozart, but overall, the performance footage was interesting, providing a keen look at Solti's conducting, and a worthwhile look at a consistently compelling musical intellect along the way. The best thing about Solti's musicanship is his exacting rhythmic prescriptions - it's what makes his Mozart something special - and that unique aspect of his work is accented in the film with precision. His whole body teaches a kind of rhythmic concision, even his walk. It's interesting. Funny thing is - that intense concision is just what this film lacks. It lacks Solti's rhythmic spark. Too bad, but the documentary is well made, Solti is credibly revealing, and the candor of his music making comes through loud and clear. There's also some fine footage of an early Wagner recording with Nilsson. Any Solti fan will be satisfied with Making of a Maestro."
The Maestro Speaks!
Albert Lynd | Edmond, OK | 01/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Another must for all Solti fans as well as those who want to know more about this unique conductor. Sometimes brief, the various segments trace a quick yet interesting picture of this extrodinary musician and the events that put him center stage in the classical music world."