Andris Nelsons: Genius on Fire
52-minute documentary and bonus material, 3 excerpts (16 minutes)
Andris Nelsons has never 'done' indifference: as a child he practised the trumpet until his lips bled; as a youth he studied singing and learned taekwondo; he became an orchestral trumpet player and at 24 was appointed the General Music Director of the Latvian National Opera in Riga. Seven years later he was elected Chief Conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He thus stands today on the podium of the orchestra that Sir Simon Rattle moulded for almost 20 years. Their repertoire has acquired new, brilliant additions under Nelsons: highlights being, for example, his Tchaikovsky and Strauss [recorded for Orfeo]. He is also a regular guest conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic and has conducted just about every great orchestra in the world. From the 2014/15 season onwards Nelsons will be the Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and will thus be at the head of one of the USA's "big five" orchestras. Who is this man who has enjoyed such an astonishing career so early? This is the topic of the film "Genius on fire". "He doesn't do things by halves, not in rehearsals either. He is always full of intensity" says the trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger of the conductor. "Every single note in the score is turned into music. With him, everything is important". During orchestral rehearsals, Andris Nelsons speaks or sings, in his trained bass voice, in an English-German onomatopoeic linguistic mishmash. To describe the basic atmosphere of a musical motive he constructs verbal pictures and tells stories, clever, witty stories. He uses his hands vigorously - his whole body in fact - in order to make clear to the orchestra what he wants. As a conductor without the affectations of a 'maestro', Andris Nelsons stands for a new generation whose leadership qualities lie in their ability to sweep people off their feet. For two years, the film director Astrid Bscher and her camera followed this exciting, young artist. She travelled with Andris Nelsons to his home city of Riga, met his parents, his friends, his partner Kristine Opolais and experienced the conductor on his worldwide search for a new home. The result is a 52-minute portrait that tells not just of music, but of how what we experience is reflected in it. It shows how a serious young man deals with the hype surrounding him, and how he grows and develops as a human being.