Sunday, August 23, 2009

Five giants of modern music

While in Paris in July, I had a chance to buy a collection of five films on the greatest XX century composers: Boulez, Carter, Glass, Messiaen and Part. The series seems to be available on Amazon in individual pieces (see, for example: Carter, Messiaen, Boulez). Seems it's hard to find the collection itself on the web. It is a part of "Juxtapositions" series, but I do not see where it could be ordered in the 5 pieces collection I bought in Virgin Megastore in Paris.

Despite of the potential difficulty to buy it, I strongly recommend it for all serious/contemporary music lovers. All the movies are great, but I must say that those about Carter, Glass and Part are of utmost beauty. They not only tell us about the musicians — they are pieces of art on their own!
The great value of the films lies in the attempt to show the music as being tightly bound to the personality and experience of the composer. I can't forget pictures from Elliot Carter's Manhattan window, scenes from Glass New York's apartment or Arvo Part's scenes from Estonia. The images of nature and songs of birds connected to Olivier Messiaen are also very moving.

However, the music is the main hero of the collection - and you will not be disappointed to listen to the composers' most famous pieces, usually played with the composer during the rehearsals and on informal concerts. The great value of the authors of the films lies in their great sensitivity to the music they tell about.

If you love classical or contemporary music - this 5 DVD collection should be on the top of your list.

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