Michael Nyman – Make It Louder, Please!, Blu-ray (2014)

by | Oct 27, 2014 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews

Michael Nyman – Make It Louder, Please!, Blu-ray (2014)

Performers: Michael Nyman and the Michael Nyman Band
Directors: Oliver Becker (concert); Sylvia Beck (documentary)
Studio: Monarda/ ArtHaus Musik 108 119 [9/30/14] (Distr. by Naxos)
Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9 1080i HD
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, DD 5.1, PCM stereo
No region code
Length: 86 min. (concert); 52 min. (portrait)
Rating: *****

For those who already have some familiarity with Michael Nyman’s music it might be best to start out with the concert. Yes, it is heavily minimalist (he is claimed to have originated the term) but somehow I find his repetitions easier to take than that of early Philip Glass. After the fame he gained for doing the score for Jane Campion’s The Piano, Nyman has become one of the recognized great living composers. The pop-like bass support and general loudness from his little dozen-piece band (including himself) helps to make his music popular with many listeners.

Nyman began his current musical phase with In Re Don Giovanni of 1977, variations on a few bars of a Mozart aria from that opera. He has since done similar “recycling” (as he calls it) of Purcell and Handel. He points out that Handel was known for his recylcing, as were Bach and other composers. European classicism and American minimalism seem to be brought together in his music. On the concert portion—shot with six HD cameras—he and his hard-working, blasting band play 16 selections of his music, including an over 21-minute selection from his “Musicologist.”  Nyman’s innovative minimalist scores for the films of Peter Greenaway got him to an international audience, and the concert portion consists of many of these.

The “Portrait” is subtitled “Composer in Progress,” and details the new challenges and interests of this composer-conductor-pianist-musicologist- photographer-filmmaker. I noticed one of his three violinists—although she is happy with her work in the band—complained about injuries to her arm from playing similar passages over and over quite ferociously. He speaks honestly about his appearance at the famous BBCProms series, which shows that he has in fact arrived. His short films, from which we are presented a portion, show that in them he also follows his minimalist tendencies.

The lossless surround sound is excellent, and adds to the enjoyment of both videos.

—John Sunier

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