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Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, July 2010

Of the genre of documentary that sets out to enhance our understanding of a musical work, this is a reasonably good one. It’s not likely to reveal anything about Brahms or his violin concerto that the serious, well-read music lover and experienced listener doesn’t already know. But the script by Martin Feil is well put together, weaving its narrative about the concerto from a number of different perspectives. We hear from four different narrators (Dulcie Smart, Shaun Lawton, Tom Strauss, and Peter Farkas) explaining various aspects of the music; we hear from Shaham, who offers his thoughts on certain technical aspects of the concerto, as well as personal musings on what the piece means to him and what it meant to its composer; and we hear from an imaginary Brahms who sends the score to Joachim, and asks the famous violinist not to demur from offering advice on grounds that the work is either “too good to tamper with or not good enough to bother with.” The parts I liked best were those where sections of the score are superimposed over the orchestra as they are being played.

Penguin Guide, January 2009

A lovely performance of the Concerto from Gil Shaham, the beautiful slow-movement oboe solo generating an exquisite response from the soloist. With Abbado looking very mature and generating plenty of vitality in the outer movements, he yet maintains the warmly lyrical approach of his soloist. The camerawork is sensible and the music-making comes fully alive for the listener/watcher. This can be recommended alongside Perlman. The documentary (which opens in German with subtitles) is mostly in English. It is quite visual and provides a great deal of illuminating background information about all aspects of the work and its gestation.

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2:08:56 AM, 3 September 2015
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