Review: ‘Arvo Part: 24 Preludes For A Fugue’

One of the greatest and most enigmatic composers of the late 20th century is made considerably more accessible in "Arvo Part: 24 Preludes for a Fugue." Both an interview and a study of the creative process, this carefully assembled pic, divided into two-dozen short chapters, is superb fare for music-minded fests, and will brighten arts channels in any language.

One of the greatest and most enigmatic composers of the late 20th century is made considerably more accessible in “Arvo Part: 24 Preludes for a Fugue.” Both an interview and a study of the creative process, this carefully assembled pic, divided into two-dozen short chapters, is superb fare for music-minded fests, and will brighten arts channels in any language.

Russian helmer Dorian Supin draws on his knowledge (and earlier footage) of Part to give a non-narrated tour of the Estonian composer’s rise in the world of serious music. Thoughtful recollections describe unconventional schooling (his mother thought he was practicing Bach when he was already crafting childhood compositions) and eventual exile from the Soviet arts world, when increasingly minimalist works began to reflect intense Orthodox faith. He still lives in Berlin, and is seen there and in other cities rehearsing works such as “Fratres” and “Tabula Rasa,” offering rare insight into his thinking on several levels. Far from coming across as the dour, monk-like hermit his bearded visage suggests, Part, usually traveling with his sharp-witted wife, Alina, as well as comparing notes with top musicians, displays self-effacing wit and abiding humanity.

Arvo Part: 24 Preludes For A Fugue

Estonia

Production

An Estonian Film Fund (Tallinn) production, in association with F-Seitse and SAS. (International sales: Ideale Audience Intl., Paris.) Produced, directed, written, edited by Dorian Supin.

Crew

Camera (color, BetaSP); music, Arvo Part, J.S. Bach; sound (Dolby). Reviewed at Seattle Film Festival (Face the Music), June 10, 2005.(Also in Karlovy Vary Film Festival.) Estonian, German, Russian, English dialogue. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Arvo Part, Alina Part, Patricia Rozario, Christopher Bowers-Broadbent.
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