Around the World in 50 Concerts
Autumn 2015 Documentary series
Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 7:00pm
Directed by Heddy Honigmann
Screenplay by Heddy Honigmann
Rated NR ·
Australia / Finland / Sweden / Netherlands
Spanish, English, Russian, and Dutch /w subtitles
In 2013 Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s 125th anniversary tour sent it Around the World in 50 Concerts, but famed Dutch documentarian Heddy Honigmann’s (O amor natural, Metal and Melancholy) film follows a more modest itinerary, highlighting stopovers in Argentina, South Africa and Russia showing how the ensemble succeeds in gaining the hearts of people with a different cultural background .
A magnificent tapestry of sounds and images, this documentary interweaves multiple leitmotifs that flow through the film like familiar old friends, surging to the forefront only to be reabsorbed and casually encountered farther on. Honigmann focuses on individual orchestra and audience members without fanfare, allowing them virtuoso riffs but never losing sight of the ensemble. The tour develops not just into a journey across the globe but also as a trip to the core of classical music, a quest for the palette of emotions which only classical music can arouse.
Can you imagine a single day in the world without music? I think that it would be like a scene from a science fiction film in which evil forces suddenly bring all movement—life itself— to a stop. A terrifying, frozen world. (Heddy Honigmann, August 2014)
“Honest-to-goodness competence, born of a shared love of music, reigns throughout: The fragmented details of Honigmann’s canvas fit together with admirable synergy, not unrelated to the friendly professional teamwork that unites the working musicians. But it is the way Honigmann often weaves a subtle continuum around these otherwise discrete stories that makes her film so special. Over dinner in a restaurant in Argentina, a flautist confesses his love of folk themes, inside and outside of classical music, even extending to popular song. Shortly thereafter, the piquant tweaking of Frere Jacques in Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 is heard as the camera moves over the streets of Buenos Aires when the orchestra leaves the city. And in a particularly atmospheric nocturnal scene, half of Amsterdam seemingly turns out in nostalgic, candlelit celebration, watching from boats and windows along the canal as a resonant baritone, accompanied by Concertgebouw, with the self-same flautist among them, swings into a rousing rendition of the city’s unofficial anthem, Aan de Amsterdamse grachten.” (Ronnie Scheib, Variety)