Mozart and Beethoven both looked up to Franz-Joseph Haydn, but modern listeners rarely afford the old boy the same degree of respect. He’s not a composer who often features in the classical pops (unless you count the German national anthem), but listen to the symphonies, piano sonatas and string quartets whose form he pretty much invented, and you’ll discover a world of endlessly charming invention – and underplayed but potent emotional appeal. A feature-length doc, offering an intro to the man and his music, has to be a good and useful thing then, surely? Well, not if it’s as stodgy as this latest offering from Brit director Phil Grabsky (who’s done similar jobs on Mozart and Beethoven). Expert talking heads, performance footage – a stellar roster, sometimes clunkily shot – and Juliet Stevenson’s narration take the FJH story from birth to death in soporifically familiar arts-telly style. Is the best way to bring audiences to this fantastic music to make them feel like they’re back at school?
Wednesday January 18 2012