Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

In The Bleak Midwinter

I watched Tony Palmer's new film about Gustav Holst last night. Holst's music is lovely- and Palmer found a way of filming his musicians-  with a strong light coming from behind them,  razzle-dazzling off brass and polished wood- that provided a visual equivalent to its clarity and edge. Less convincing- too obvious, too prescriptive- was the non-diegetic imagery- a naked dancing girl, sunsets, CGI footage of the planets, archive footage of Belsen and Edwardian London. Cinema has always treated music as a handmaid- and the more independent and "interesting" the pictures on screen, the more the music gets pushed into a supporting role.  Holst was a good man.  Startlingly good. And the goodness got in the way of the career and still does. He didn't push. His work- much of it well ahead of its time- is- with the single exception of The Planets Suite- unjustly neglected  We heard things that were entirely unfamiliar and quite wonderful; for instance the Beni Mora suite- with its Middle Eastern inflections and ceaselessly repeating flute motif- and the heartfelt, all but posthumous, Lyric Movement for Viola.  
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