Following the model of his ‘In Search of Mozart’, director Phil Grabsky has realised another highly entertaining and informative biography, presenting Beethoven as a working artist rather than a caricatured grumpy genius. Instead of one narrator droning on throughout, he allows a range of experts, with all their different accents and personalities, to share their enthusiasm. And what an extraordinary collection of musicians, conductors and musicologists he assembles, including Paul Lewis and Emanuel Ax demonstrating at the keyboard, the wry Sir Roger Norrington holding court at home dressed like a sultan and the usually mild-mannered Riccardo Chailly getting increasingly worked up at rehearsal. There is plenty of music too, of course; it’s just frustrating that the excerpts must end – but that only encourages a trip to the shop in further search of Beethoven. I’m sure Grabsky would approve.
Friday April 17 2009