The Red Baton and Gennadi Rozhdestvensky: Conductor or Conjuror?

On February 26, Naxos of America, distributor for EuroArts, releases NOTES INTERDITES: The Red Baton and Gennadi Rozhdestvensky: Conductor or Conjuror? (EuroArts 3073498) by acclaimed filmmaker Bruno Monsaingeon (Glenn Gould Hereafter).
The Red Baton explores the musical life of the Soviet Union from 1917-1990, one of the richest and most intense periods in Soviet Russia despite hardship and terror. In those 73 years, major composers and outstanding performers displayed their talents in situations that were often grotesque—and never less than extreme. The film sheds light on the circumstances with a personal account of conductor Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, a highly colorful character and born raconteur. He experienced first-hand the most dramatic and, later, more settled periods in the history of the Soviet Union. The DVD includes previously unpublished material on some of the great Soviet performers and composers, such as Prokofiev and Shostakovich, and extends far beyond personal memories.

Gennadi Rozhdestvensky: Conductor or Conjuror is a portrait of the conductor Gennadi Rozhdestvensky himself: born in 1931, he made his début at the Bolshoi a year before Stalin’s death in 1953. He was deeply committed to contemporary music and was a close friend of great composers including Shostakovich and Schnittke. He also championed Prokofiev’s later works, which had been banned. This documentary also examines the art of conducting. Filmed from 1991-2002 in Moscow, Zurich, and Paris, it features Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7 in master classes with students at the Moscow Conservatory, rehearsals with Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchestra, and performances of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet and Schnittke’s Dead Souls. An extensive bonus film also includes the Tchaikovksy and Schnittke performances along with Zdravitsa, a cantata by Sergey Prokofiev composed in 1939 for the celebration of Stalin’s 60th birthday.