Cinema Signal:

Classical mUsic 101
A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Classical Music
by Fred Plotkin

. "Music From the Inside Out"

Documentarian filmmaker Daniel Anker takes a light and entertaining approach to the general love for music (primarily classical) by presenting what it means to the people making it. The only folks missing are the composers, but most of them are dead and couldn't make the casting call.

Be that as it may, the music selected varies from excellent to superb and is nicely integrated with single and group interviews with musicians from the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. The best thing about this documentary is its editing. The nice thing about it is that it presents ideas of value to novice listeners to advanced practitioners who will enjoy what their colleagues have to say about their careers, their experiences, and their approach to the art.

To a person, the effect of the music on their emotions is the universal motif.

The music described and played includes classical from the baroque to the new music of the 21st century, jazz, bluegrass, salsa and world music, and it's amusing to see what the symphonists turn to for blowing off musical steam with other traditions and groups.

Anker's documentary is a nicely balanced attempt to express the passion and technique that's part of their understanding of a piece of music and its performance. Not easily described, not really ever fully captured in words, the musicians' thoughts and analyses go a long way toward an understanding of how they see and experience it. The diluting effect, however, is that these obviously very talented people haven't been chosen for their charisma, but the interwoven music itself takes much of the load in maintaining our interest.

We know that direct exposure to the music is what counts. We have but to put our own music store receipts together to gather in the scope of its value to ourselves. It's not too difficult to stimulate our need for more, and this film, in a nicely cinematic way, bravely conspires to do its part.

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~~  Jules Brenner  

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