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SIR GEORG SOLTI, MURRAY PERAHIA, Evelyn Glennie and David Corkhill

Digital Classics DVD DC10043 [1987, 58 mins]

This is an invaluable intimate portrait of Solti at work aged 75, his relationship with pianist Murray Perahia, and the creation of a prize-winning CD of a Bartok masterwork at Snape Maltings.

The cameras are relentlessly intrusive. One sees Solti's superhuman energy and his unconcealed fatigue at the end of a long, late session. We are made fully aware of the myriad of short takes to be spliced.

The young Glennie, demure in a pink dress, admits that Solti the conductor cannot resist exercising authority and that it would have been inappropriate for her to 'speak her mind'; the percussionists are very much accompanists, rather than chamber music partners. [See the new Evelyn Glennie at Touch the Sound]

Solti's detailed thoughts about Bartók focus our listening (he turned the pages with no advance notice for Ditta Pastory, Bartók's wife, when she and her husband gave the 1938 premiere; so testing an experience that he scarcely heard the music!). The camera work is elaborate but never distracting. It will be revelatory in detail however well you think you know this favourite, but still very difficult, masterpiece 70 years on.

There is also a full performance with the players dressed in summer-white evening clothes, but no sign of the 1987 Aldeburgh Festival audience...

Also recieved from the same source is a documentary about Mark-Anthony Turnage's work composing methods, especially combining jazz musicians with a symphony orchestra in his Scortched (2004). Well worth seeing, but only once: Digital Classics DVD 1004DC [2004, 60 mins].

Peter Grahame Woolf