Spira Mirabilis

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

LABELS: Ideale Audience
ALBUM TITLE: Spira Mirabilis
WORKS: Symphony No. 1 (Spring); Documentary ‘La Spira’
PERFORMER: Spira Mirabilis
CATALOGUE NO: DVD: 3079868; Blu-ray: 3079864


Take a group of top-notch young musicians who want to work together, long to study orchestral repertoire in depth, don’t fancy having a conductor and don’t mind sleeping in dormitories, and you have the phenomenon that is Spira Mirabilis. Gérald Caillat’s excellent documentary follows this exceptional chamber orchestra from their makeshift home-base in Formigine, Emilia-Romagna – one bathroom between 35-odd – as they set about bringing music to all in every way they can.

How often do you hear an orchestra begin a rehearsal with singing? ‘O wende, wende deine Lauf/ Im Tale blüht der Frühling auf!’ they chorus – Adolf Boettger’s words, which the opening of the Schumann Spring Symphony matches rhythm for rhythm. With no conductor to interfere, they discuss things through the rehearsal in as democratic and musically puritanical a way as an orchestra can; when they want direction, they seek out the charismatic Lorenzo Coppola to coach them in Mozart on period instruments.

The whole spectrum is here: a schools performance, outreach work and a visit to the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. And they also give a flash-mob performance in a shopping centre. With superlative picture and sound, many close-ups and quiet observation that lets the young musicians speak for themselves, this film is not only beautifully made, but also deeply touching. The complete Schumann Spring Symphony remains the glittering tip of the iceberg.


Jessica Duchen