Falls far short of my expectation
Tsang Shek Yiu | Brisbane, Australia | 01/04/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"A few years ago, Yo-Yo Ma created in collaboration with a number of artists and filmmakers a 6-part film series "Inspired by Bach", which explored the visual and spatial quality of Bach's suites for unaccompanied cello. In Part 1, Ma worked with garden designer Julie Moir Messervy to create a garden in Boston, inspired by the First Suite. The plan fell through due to the lack of commercial financial support. Toronto then showed an interest in the project. The film, directed by Kevin McMahon, ended when private donors were secured and construction work was ready to start.The idea of "Inspired by Bach" was a great one. But watching the "Music Garden" (part 1 of the series) was a frustrating experience. People behind this film did not intend to follow this project to its very end. Instead, they had a deadline when the film must be finished. That explained why the film ended where it ended.Viewers, including myself, must have asked "What happened then?" ... The Music Garden was opened in June 1999, as part of the City of Toronto Harbourfront Parks System!In my opinion, Part 2 is inspired by Piranesi, who left us with etchings of the Carceri (prison), not by Bach. The inspiration is: if we build a virtual Carceri based on the etchings, and record a piece of music (in this case, it is Ma playing Bach's Second Suite for Unaccompanied Cello) there, what would the sonic effect be? The important thing here is the virtual realisation of 2-D drawings into a 3D structure and the recording of music there. Who plays who's what music is relatively unimportant. For example, there is no reason why Ma can't instead play the Third Suite or a Piazolla tango piece in the prison!In short, I can't see what the film has got to do with "inspired by Bach".Actually, a viewer can ask even more critical questions: Why Piranesi? What's so special about the Carceri etchings? I don't think the film offers convincing answers.P.S. I notice that some reviewers gave very low ratings for the "Inspired by Bach" film series, mainly because they thought they were buying the concert recordings of Yo-Yo Ma's CDs of the same name. My advice is, to avoid disappointment, please make sure you know what you are buying. The CDs are the by-products of, or the accompaniment to, the "Inspired by Bach" film series, not the other way round."
Interesting & Inspiring
Tsang Shek Yiu | 06/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The "Inspired By Bach" series was a great attempt by Ma, serveral film makers and other artists/professionals to "map" each Bach's unacompanied cello suite to a subject. In this DVD, Suite No. 1 was mapped to a "Musical Garden" and Suite No. 2 "Architectural Space."Unlike other reviewers, I found the DVD interesting and satifying (especially the Musical Garden/Suite No. 1 part). Some people mistakenly assumed the DVD was a concert recording and were subsequently disappointed. Well, I actually thought the contents of the DVD were more interesting and inspiring than straight concert recording - you not only get to hear Yo-Yo Ma's performing on Bach's cello suites but also see his inspirations outside the pure music domain. The DVD's video and sound quality is high. Ma was, as always, playing majestically and flawlessly. One would also be charmed by his charisma and optimism. It's fun to see (and easy to understand) the awe people felt when watching and listening to his live performance. And Bach's Cello Suites, ah, were so beautiful beyond words. Highly recommended."
L. Zechinato | Columbia, MD USA | 06/10/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I saw these on public TV back when they were originally released. Each piece was set in a visual/virtual space. As a musician-artist the combination of site and sound drew me into a deeper appreciation for Ma's playing and for Bach's work. Basically, these films were my introduction to Yo-Yo Ma. I would not have "caught on" nearly as quickly without them. As with most good things in life the journey is as important as the destination, and these films represent an intriguing fusion of visual dimension & texture with very moving musical performances. The realism of the immense Carceri prison floored me, and the slow pans and 360s around Ma as he played "there" were awesome. If you have a good sound system, draw the shades and crank it.Some people gave low ratings to these DVDs because they expected concert footage. Obviously they didn't read Amazon's product description. (Duh!!) No prevarication there."