Filmmaker Bruno Monsaingeon directs this documentary portrait of pianist Piotr Anderszewski that finds the musician musing on his life and career in music while travelling on a concert tour through Eastern Europe and performing pieces by Bach, Beethoven, Schumann, and Szymanowski. ~ Sandra Bencic
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"Unquiet Traveler" is a unique documentary about the renowned Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski. The conceptual approach taken by director Bruno Monsaingeon is disarming in its simplicity-he accompanied the musician on a 2008 recital tour through Hungary, Poland, Germany, France and Lisbon, filming Anderszewski's impromptu performances at various stops, and recording the magnetic performer practicing on a Steinway in his private railway car while tossing off amusing and insightful observations on matters musical and otherwise. On Mozart's "Magic Flute": "I know of no musical work that's so sad and joyful, so cold, so dark and yet so luminous, so divine and so impertinent." On giving recitals: "When I'm confronted with the extreme loneliness of the recital, the heroism and the cruelty involved, I sometimes think that I'll never do recitals again." On the history of his native city: "The other thing I mourn is the destruction of Warsaw. I find it very hard to live with. A whole civilization, just murdered." The effect is utterly beguiling, and is far more revealing and compelling than the traditional "talking heads" interview format that Monsaingeon thankfully eschews. While Anderszewski has charisma to burn, Monsaingeon never lets his outsize personality overwhelm the music. Ample footage is devoted to the pianist in performance, although this is not a performance film, per se. The director also works in sequences of Anderszewski wandering through several Eastern European cities; rehearsing with the Brazilian conductor Gustavo Dudamel; and making a recording in a Berlin studio-all interspersed with wonderfully evocative shots of the train rolling through beautiful, snow-covered landscapes. These varied yet complementary elements add up to a striking visual essay on the creative process, one suffused with rare warmth and intimacy. Not least, "Unquiet Traveler" presents Anderszewski's humorous, analytical and self-critical assessments of his strengths and weaknesses as a musician and an individual. This is an absolute must-see for anyone interested in music, classical or otherwise.