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|Henry-Louise De La Grange||Participant|
|Philippe De Chalendar||Participant|
|Gustav Mahler||Score Composer|
Posted October 10, 2011
For so many people, Gustav Mahler is a love-hate thing - you either are enthralled by his music, or you strongly dislike it. I fall in the former camp in that I just can't get enough of it. So for me, this documentary (being focused on bringing the truth of the man to light, rather than the idolized image) was right up my alley if it lived up to its description. And it most definitely does. The film includes interviews with Claudio Abbado, Pierre Boulez, Danielle Gatti, Thomas Hampson, and others, and each has something unique to add to the depiction of Mahler being presented. Fascinating are descriptions and images of areas in which he spent his childhood, as are the images of his summer home where he composed and the artifacts that remain as physical evidence of his presence - his glasses, baton, scores, and manuscripts. It is enlightening to hear stories of his time in Vienna as well as New York, and the film paints a picture of a man determined to express how he experienced life and music through the musicians he worked with, even though many of them disliked his methods or the way in which they felt he was treating them. By the same token, the immense regard for Mahler the conductor is strongly communicated, and one can't help but wonder how marvelous it would have been to attend one of his performances. The documentary also touches on the love that Mahler had for his children, the heartbreak he experienced when one of his daughters died, and the pain when he discovered his wife having an affair with the architect Walter Gropius. While no film can hope to capture the essence of a life as complicated as Mahler's, Andy Sommer's film does a remarkable job in communicating the humanity of the man, as well as the ways in which his genius set him apart from other people. It is a fascinating portrait of an incredible composer and conductor, and is worth watching for anyone interested in the man behind this incredible music.
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