6 years ago

Volume 21 Issue 1 - September 2015

  • Text
  • September
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • Musical
  • Sept
  • Quartet
  • Concerto
  • Orchestra
  • Symphony
  • Violin
Paul Ennis's annual TIFF TIPS (27 festival films of potential particular musical interest); Wu Man, Yo-Yo Ma and Jeffrey Beecher on the Silk Road; David Jaeger on CBC Radio Music in the days it was committed to commissioning; the LISTENING ROOM continues to grow on line; DISCoveries is back, bigger than ever; and Mary Lou Fallis says Trinity-St. Paul's is Just the Spot (especially this coming Sept 25!).

TIFF TIPS continued from

TIFF TIPS continued from page 13 producers, DJs and designers for decades to come. Set on the eve of Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution, As I Open My Eyes, the first feature from director Leyla Bouzid, follows an up-andcoming underground band as they are pulled in all directions by creative energy, authoritarian oppression and rebellion. With music by virtuoso oud player, serial collaborator, musical explorer Khyam Allami. Syrian-born of Iraqi descent, the London-based Allami is a musician and composer with a formidable – and continually growing – international reputation. I was drawn to John Crowley’s Brooklyn by the prospect of Irish music but was swept up in the coming-of-age story of a young Irish immigrant navigating the new world of Brooklyn while tied to the old one. Apart from a lovely a cappella song by Iarla Ó Lionáird, the diegetic music is generic and serviceable (there are some period nuggets buried beneath the action) but Saorise Ronan’s understated star turn won me over. It’s another world, this period piece set in the early 1950s. Yorgos Lanthimos deservedly won the Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Festival for his inventive societal allegory The Lobster, which deals with the relationship between men and women in a refreshingly original way. Its surprising humour, surreal conception and unwavering execution is rigorous to a fault; Lanthimos’ cinematic world is unforgettable as satire and social commentary. Buttressing the plot is a soundtrack laden with the likes of the slow movement from Beethoven’s First String Quartet, excerpts from Schnittke’s Piano Quintet, Stravinsky’s 3 Pieces for String Quartet, Shostakovich’s String Quartet No.8, Britten’s First String Quartet and the first two variations from Strauss’ Don Quixote. Nick Cave’s Where the Wild Roses Grow is performed both by Cave and star Colin Farrell. In Youth, an octogenarian retired composer (a relaxed, witty and urbane Michael Caine) and his slightly younger film director pal (an energetic Harvey Keitel), meet for their annual reunion at a spectacular Swiss spa. Aphorisms roll off Caine’s tongue but despite his infectious levity, he’s a wounded man. A musician so famous he’s being offered a knighthood, he’s most at ease conducting a group of mooing cows with bells on, in an Alpine meadow. Violinist Viktoria Mullova and soprano Sumi Jo make a persuasive case for his Simple Song # 3 (which was actually written for the film by Pulitzer Prizewinner David Lang). My Mother, the most entertaining film of Nanni Moretti’s storied career, moves effortlessly from a busy film set to serious family scenes but Moretti’s directorial skill makes the mood changes feel natural and unforced. The well-chosen soundtrack, heavy on Arvo Pärt (excerpts from nine works including the ubiquitous Für Alina) but also including Philip Glass, Leonard Cohen and Jarvis Cocker, among others, supports the emotional changes unobtrusively. Meanwhile, John Turturro, playing a Hollywood “star” with an overblown sense of self-worth, is hilarious in a delicious scenery-chewing performance that is worth the price of admission alone. Sleeping Giant Advance word on Alexander Sokurov’s Francofonia calls it a remarkable visit to the Louvre in the dark days under the German Occupation during World War II. Sokurov’s poetic reflection on the museum’s cultural significance is evident as the director shares his genuine wonderment for the Louvre – just as he showed a similar admiration for the Hermitage in Russian Ark, that astounding visual essay shot in one uninterrupted take in which the use of music was a crucial component. Two Icelandic films, Sparrows and Horizon, feature musical contributions by composers linked to the innovative Icelandic group, Sigur Rós. Kjartan Sveinsson, the band’s former keyboardist, composed three songs for Rúnar Rúnarsson’s Sparrows, which chronicles a father and son relationship during one summer in a remote, Icelandic fishing village: a magical and thematically poignant place to portray a story of change. Orri Páll Dýrason, Sigur Ros’ current drummer, shares the credit for Horizon’s ethereal score with Sigur Ros’ touring guitarist, Kjartan Holm. The subject of the documentary, artist Georg Gudni Hauksson, paved the way for a renaissance in Icelandic landscape painting. Director Fridrik Thor Fridriksson considers Hauksson a kindred spirit and Viggo Mortensen, who makes an appearance, is also a fan. Sunset Song, Terence Davies’ epic of hope, tragedy and love at the dawning of World War I follows a young woman’s tale of endurance against the hardships of rural Scottish life. From Britain’s greatest living auteur, Sunset Song stars Peter Mullan and Agyness Deyn, and if the director’s filmography is any indication it undoubtedly will include a well-chosen soundtrack. The synopsis for Claude Lelouch’s Un plus une, having its world premiere at TIFF, is intriguing, especially its poster with a nod to Jean- Paul Belmondo. Charming, successful, Antoine (Jean Dujardin) could be the hero of one of those films he composes the music for. When he leaves for a job in India, he meets Anna (Elsa Zylberstein), a woman who isn’t like him at all, but who attracts him more than anything. The film’s score is by Francis Lai, who began his feature film career with Lelouch’s iconic A Man and a Woman, almost 50 years earlier. I’ve seen six of the 27 films previewed here and am looking forward to viewing the others (and many more) during TIFF 2015. Watch for reports on these and other discoveries in my Music and the Movies blog on over the months to come. The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 10 to 20. Check for further information. Paul Ennis is the managing editor of The WholeNote. The Lobster 78 | Sept 1 - Oct 7, 2015

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