Notes Interdites-Red Baton

Directed By: Bruno Monsaingeon

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Red Music

by Emma Choi on 4/6/2008

The two documentaries on this disc paint a vivid picture of musical life during the 70 years of dictatorial Soviet rule. “The Red Baton” focuses on the doctrine of Socialist Realism to which artists in all media were expected to adhere. For musicians, this meant creating works that did not exhibit so-called “formalist” elements such as dissonance and atonality. Those who deviated from the party line were dealt with harshly, including public censure by the government-controlled media and the banning of many of their works. The film relies on the oral history of two key personalities who lived through many of the events: famed conductor Gennadi Rozhdestvensky and viola player Rudolf Barshai. Much of their testimony revolves around the notorious 1948 Congress of the Union of Soviet Composers, during which Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich and others were savagely denounced by Tikhon Khrennikov, leader of the composers union and widely perceived as a lackey of the ruling elite. Their remembrances are moving and tragic, although Rozhdestvensky also finds a measure of black humor in the hypocrisy and madness of the era. It’s a fascinating document, but at 55 minutes is too short to really do justice to its subject, and doesn’t account for the staggering amount of brilliant work achieved during those dark decades. The second film, “Gennadi Rozhdestvensky: Conductor or Conjuror?” is a less political, more personal look at the day-to-day business of music making, as the famous maestro is shown in his varied roles as conductor, performer, philosopher and mentor. Less ambitious than “The Red Baton,” it’s ultimately a more successful documentary, enlivened by Rozhdestvensky’s down to earth charisma and sardonic humor.

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Product Overview


Studio Naxos of America
SKU 206827223
UPC 899132000459
UPC 14 00899132000459
Format DVD
Release Date 2/26/2008
Symphony Orchestras
Editors Note
Note Russia's rich classical music heritage provides the subject for this pair of films from director Bruno Monsaingeon. "The Red Baton - Scenes of musical life in Stalinist Russia" examines surprisingly thriving music scene during the Soviet era, and "Gennady Rozhdestvensky: Conductor or Conjuror?" features the noted conductor discussing his art.
Bruno Monsaingeon
Name Monsaingeon,Bruno
Link Search Link
Cast & Crew
Gennady Rozhdestvensky - Subject
Bruno Monsaingeon - Director
Technical Info
Original Release Date 2007
Catalog ID 303498
UPC 00899132000459
Number of Discs 1
Running Time 155 minutes
Color Color
Original Language French
Available Audio Tracks English, French
Product Attributes
Actor Monsaingeon,Bruno
Music Format DVD

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Recent Product Reviews

Red Music by Emma Choi on Apr 06, 2008