The final moment of the Shostakovich symphony No 13 is a simple long sonorous B flat chord that dies away over an eternity . The cellos hold that note over 13 agonisingly slow bars. (Is this Shostakovich's idea of a mathematical amusement) The celeste chimes, celestially over this soft wall of sound. The cameras have recorded every detail of the concert so far and capture these final moments to perfection. Cello bows barely move, each player holds themselves still, focusing on softness and serenity. In the editing suite I hold and hold and hold the shot and finally I move to the shot of the conductor, where we can see Mark Shiell and feel the whole audience holding a collective breath. The marking of the last bar is "morendo" which means dying away. There is no discernible moment at which point the music has finished. Is the note still hanging? We can hear it in our mind. Are the cello bows still moving? Are they still connected to the strings? Finally Mark lowers his baton, and his eyes and bows his spent body. The audience takes the cue to erupt into appreciation for this emotional concert experience.
Even though this moment was two months ago, I still thrill to the wave of emotion and elation that swept over me at that moment in the Hamer Hall video suite. Months of planning the shoot, anticipating all that was required to capture the concert well, a week of studying and marking up scores, attending rehearsals and putting together the video team finally over. 8 hours of sitting in that small dark room directing the dress rehearsal shoot, making last minute score changes and trying to follow 5 screens as well as the score was done. I walked into that bright Spring evening dazed, knowing we had done all we could to make the project a success. We caught as much on digital film as well could. A project that had been two and a half years in the making since its conception, finished in two and a half glorious hours of music and ceremony.
But the adventure for Hofland Music had just begun. The magic happens in the editing suite where you work with the different camera angles, the score, and your feeling of the music to create a second version of the concert. The version that is history captured but as a work of art, the version that gives you vantage points to the concert not available from even the best seats in the house. The version that gives you greater insight to the music as you are directed to seeing the main instruments from every section. The structure envisaged by the composer, and embodied in the musical score is brought to light for greater understanding through the visual cues.
After 2 gruelling months, the project is nearly ready for final mastering then replicating and delivery. It seems an eternity when I sat down with great optimism to create the library in the editing suite. I've watched the concert over and over, and yet I still find passages that surprise and delight me. And I know anyone who owns this DVD will find their own passages that will speak to them about the glory and wonder of music to teach us something that words cannot.