Il Maestro Pappano

LABELS: Cypres
WORKS: A Musical Portrait of a Conductor for the 21st Century


This cleverly constructed documentary offers a unique insight into the life and character of conductor Antonio Pappano, who recently became Covent Garden’s youngest music director since Kubelik.

Pappano’s narration, always shot in the relevant location, guides the viewer through his early childhood in London, his family’s move to the States and his return to Europe as a young adult, culminating in ten years as music director at La Monnaie in Brussels.

Intercut with this narration are snippets of Pappano in rehearsal and performance and comments from relatives, friends and colleagues -including Daniel Barenboim, who recognised Pappano’s potential early on. Whether he is explaining the finer points of his conducting technique or talking to his parents in their kitchen, Pappano’s natural and unpretentious manner is beguiling.

The musical selections are used to good effect: excerpts of Pappano playing Brahms’s piano music run through the section that covers his early experiences of the instrument, and excerpts from rehearsals and a performance of Verdi’s Requiem appear throughout, with the opening and closing moments of the piece framing the film.


Although the picture quality is particularly good, this disc is let down by the absence of a booklet and, worse, chapter navigation. A bonus track features Pappano’s sensitive rendition of Brahms’s Intermezzo, Op. 116/4. Katina Ellery