A film by Reiner E. Moritz celebrating 50 years of IMZ—International Music + Media Centre
Herbert von Karajan
and many others
Music on television has come in various guises over the last 50 years. It was already part of the programme mix at the very beginning and is still around, more sophisticated than ever, live and event driven and at it’s best reaching millions—at any rate more people than those experiencing music in opera houses, concert halls or other venues. Television has been instrumental in popularizing music, preservingRead more precious moments of music making and helping to create music and performances which would not exist without it.
Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian
Running time: 85 mins
No. of DVDs: 1 (DVD 9)
R E V I E W: 3633940.zz6_MUSIC_AIR_Reiner_E.html MUSIC IN THE AIR • Various performers. • ARTHAUS 101 640 (DVD: 81:00) A film by Reiner E. Moritz
The idea behind this film is a good one: to examine the history of classical music on television. But the subject needs many, many hours, and these 81 minutes do not begin to tell the story. They include mostly brief excerpts by superstar performers: “Glenn Gould, Herbert von Karajan, Anna Netrebko, Leonard Bernstein, Igor Stravinsky, Arturo Toscanini, Pierre Boulez, Jonas Kaufmann, and many others …” says the front cover. But at least an equal amount of time is spent listening to television directors and producers merely talk; many of them are now in their dotage and are slow to organize their thoughts and speech, which spoils much of what they have to say. Among the narrators, baritone Gerald Finley and TV director Brian Large prove excellent communicators.
The history is told chronologically, beginning with the BBC’s first public television broadcast in 1936 and with the first televised Toscanini NBC concert in 1948. Developments in equipment and in techniques are explored. Despite talks in French and in German, the film is quintessentially British, to the extent that two telecasts of Owen Wingrave get twice the air time of Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts—during which the British narrator disses American television, quoting the infamous “vast wasteland” speech. More importantly, the 21 chapters are a hodgepodge of disconnected material. Many end suddenly, in the middle of a musical phrase, jumping instantly to a new presenter with a new subject. Just as we begin to chew on Le Sacre or Traviata, we are yanked away and thrown a new bone.
Despite all these problems, there are sparks of great interest. We learn that Gould hated the Chromatic Fantasia (no mention is made of its fugue), which he proceeds to play with overwhelming virtuosity but little feeling. He is cut off midphrase and we are plunged into a Sergiu Celibidache rehearsal of Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony. The conductor seems almost a commedia dell’arte fool, and his tempo could produce a half-hour performance of this 13-minute gem. Happily, we are cut off again. Mere days before his death, Francis Poulenc plays Satie with a marvelous touch. A Paul Tortelier master class lets us in on one of his secrets. A young Netrebko shines as Ruslan’s Ludmila. The three tenors pass “Nessun dorma” around like a beach ball. We peek into the Boulez/Chéreau Ring; into a Tosca in situ, with Domingo singing on the ramparts of Castel Sant’Angelo at 6:00 a.m. as the sun comes up; and a fascinating Traviata performed in real time in the Zurich train station, with busy commuters racing past Violetta and Alfredo before he boards the train. Pink Floyd and Thelonious Monk sneak into this survey of classical music on TV. The film pursues its subject beyond television into other audio-video forms, concluding with Live from the Met broadcasts in a theater. There is no mention this time of an American wasteland, but the film proves—did we ever doubt it?—that TV is doing far more for classical music today in continental Europe than in either Britain or the U.S.
Glenn Gould (Piano),
Anna Netrebko (Soprano)
Herbert von Karajan,
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Music in the Air DVD ReviewNovember 23, 2012By Sour Persimmons See All My Reviews""Music in the Air" proved to be a sometimes interesting, though ultimately unsatisfyingly fragmented look at televised classical music. It is as if clips (as another reviewer noted, many of them very brief) were chosen and then a script written around them, rather than the other way around. The entire film lacks narrative flow, with random new topics being introduced by interviewees followed by brief clips to illustrate whatever point is being discussed. Occasionally, a narrator bridges the gap between topics, but even then the transitions are not successfully accomplished. It seems that the film cannot decide whether it is the "history" it claims to be (in which case it is not nearly comprehensive enough, with far too little systematic discussion of the technological aspects of televised music, the important behind-the-scenes players, etc.) or merely a collection of important film clips (in which case the clips are too short and too few). In either case, the final product is not broad-based enough in its approach to attract anyone but die-hard classical music lovers, yet not substantial enough to truly cater to this crowd. On a technical note about the DVD, the disc's English "subtitles" provided only appear when the language being spoken is not English, so those with hearing impairment will be frustrated by the lack of captioning."Report Abuse