A film by Bettina Ehrhardt & Wolfgang Schreiber(On Nono)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: A film by Bettina Ehrhardt & Wolfgang Schreiber(On Nono)
LABELS: TDK
ALBUM TITLE: A Trail on the Water (Nono)
WORKS: A Trail on the Water – Life and Works of Nono
PERFORMER: Claudio Abbado, Maurizio Pollini, Nuria Schoenberg Nono; Berlin PO
CATALOGUE NO: DVWW-DOCNONO (NTSC; Dolby 2.0; 16:9 anamorphic)
Given this documentary’s theme – the long-standing musical and personal relationship between conductor Claudio Abbado, pianist Maurizio Pollini and composer Luigi Nono – it’s surprising to have such a nondescript end result. The lives of these three men were interlinked in many remarkable ways, so there are fascinating insights to be gained from the many avenues of enquiry that are hinted at throughout the film. Sadly, though, we are offered far too many such hints and not nearly enough substance. ‘We had no wish to document him by means of archival footage,’ says director Bettina Ehrhardt of Nono in the booklet notes. Because…? We see Abbado poring over photographs. We hear a series of quotes, some cryptic, others simply banal, which are scattered through the script like leaden confetti. Most annoyingly of all, the whole project is padded out with tedious point-and-shoot shots of an overcast Venetian cityscape which looks like a cross between library footage and a selection of case study material designed to help assess the impact of pollution on urban waterways.

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There’s a pleasing sample of Nono’s Io, frammento dal Prometeo and extracts from works by Schumann, Schoenberg, Marenzio and Mahler. Sadly, the complete performance by Pollini of Nono’s …sofferte onde serene… is badly marred by its clangorously reverberant sound. Roger Thomas