LABELS: Arthaus Musik
PERFORMER: The Vienna Boys’ Choir/Curt Faudon
CATALOGUE NO: 101 471 (NTSC system; Dolby 5.0; 16:9 picture format)
For those of my generation and cultural background the Vienna Boys’ Choir was something of a joke. Variously into Stockhausen, Coltrane and The Grateful Dead, my mates and I associated the Choir with lollipops heard on Housewives’ Choice or Children’s Favourites. And then there were those sailor suits, parodied by the Rolling Stones in their video for ‘It’s Only Rock & Roll’.
This was, of course, a limited, distorted view. The Choir’s core repertoire has always centred on the finest music and, as this film shows, it’s not afraid to explore new territory. Framed by the dramatic conceit of the making of a film about the Silk Roads, director Curt Faudon and his co-screenwriter Tina Breckwoldt give us a full, engaging picture of the Choir’s history and its current day-to-day routine.
The straightforward documentary footage, including interviews and rehearsal and concert sequences, is spiced with staged, scripted vignettes of life in the choir, impressively authentic-looking historical reconstructions, and episodes mixing fact and fantasy on the Silk Road.
The film opens with some stunning travelogue images of China, Uzbekistan and other stops along the historic route, and elsewhere there is adept use of computer-generated (and enhanced and altered) imagery, all in the service of superb performances of excellent music from Europe and the countries along the Silk Road, with a spine-tingling appearance by singer Yulduz Usmanova. Barry Witherden