Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Concert

Another day, another movie. The ticket queue stretched out the door and down the street - and this was Tuesday lunchtime. Happily the Embassy's large capacity ensured we didn't miss out on a seat.

And so we met Andrei, a cleaner at the Bolshoi Theatre. He's also the Bolshoi's ex-conductor and alcoholically challenged. His career was brought to a sudden stop (in the middle of a performance of Tchaikovsky's violin concerto in D) some thirty years ago because the communist regime took exception to his pro-Jewish attitudes. Lea the Jewish violinist was send to the Gulag. At the time Andrei and the orchestra's violin soloist Lea were obsessed with perfecting this violin concerto, and as a result of what happened Andrei has been obsessed with it ever since.

One fateful day, Andrei is cleaning the office at the theatre when a fax arrives from Paris asking if the orchestra can perform there in few weeks time. Andrei intercepts the fax and hatches a plan to conduct the Tchaikovsky concerto using an orchestra of his fellow musicians, a member of the previously mentioned communist regime and a talented french violinist who never plays Tchaikovsky.

Here we have all the ingredients for a french farce and there are lots of laughs. Getting the motley band of ex-professional musicians to Paris is one thing, getting them to perform is quite another. And of course there's the problem of keeping the concert from the "real" Bolshoi Orchestra and it's management.

However, this is so much more than a French Farce or a good opportunity to take the mickey out of the Russians. It's a stirring and affecting tale about an exorcising personal demons and about what people will do to help out someone they care about. It falls into the feel-good category but it gets the heart rate up as well as the hair on the back of your neck. There are so many obstacles that you're not completely sure that things will turn out well. The story and Tchaikovsky will keep you glued to your seat for the whole two hours.

Anne's rating 4.5/5
Ian's rating 5/5

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