Schubert: ‘The Trout’; ‘The Greatest Love & The Greatest Sorrow’

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LABELS: Opus Arte
ALBUM TITLE: Schubert: ÔThe Trout’; ÔThe Greatest Love & The Greatest Sorrow’
WORKS: ‘The Trout’; ‘The Greatest Love & The Greatest Sorrow’
PERFORMER: Daniel Barenboim, Itzhak Perlman, Jacqueline du Pré, Pinchas Zukerman, Zubin Mehta, Andreas Schmidt, Vladimir Ashkenazy; Bavarian RSO & Chorus/Wolfgang Sawallisch
Christopher Nupen’s classic film of one extraordinary event in 1969 is here paired with his portrait of Schubert – very different, yet equally compelling. The Trout, bringing together Daniel Barenboim, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Jacqueline du Pré and Zubin Mehta in their early twenties, manages to preserve the atmosphere of a magical day, portraying the youthful performers – now all legends in their own way – brimming over with fun both on and off stage. The sound quality is showing its age, but Nupen’s inspired filming gets right to the heart of the performance. It’s a film that represents more than the sum of its parts.


The Greatest Love and the Greatest Sorrow also seeks the essence of its subject: the story not of Schubert’s life but of his soul. The music, from Schubert’s last 20 months, is fabulously performed by, among others, baritone Andreas Schmidt, pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Petersen Quartet. Without labouring his points, though the reading sometimes feels slightly sepulchral, Nupen uses Schubert’s own words to draw attention to his early tragedies – the death of his mother, his difficult relationship with his father – as well as the syphilis that blighted him at 25 (the song ‘Am Meer’ acquires an especially sinister overtone in its context).


Extras include an appetite-whetting montage from Nupen’s other documentaries; introductions to both films from Nupen, who declares that he was advised not to name the first film The Trout lest it be mistaken for a fishing programme; and a brief, poignant one from du Pré herself. Jessica Duchen