Monday, 3 May 2010

Spring Symphony

Director/writer: Peter Schamoni
West Germany 1983 103 mins
Cast: Nastassja Kinski, Rolf Hoppe, Herbert Grönemeyer, Anja-Christine Preussler.

Peter Schamoni’s 1983 film Spring Symphony (Frühlingssinfonie) should clearly fall into the category of Masters and Classics of Cinema, although I believe that it passed largely unnoticed in Britain. A young Nastassja Kinski plays the part of teenager Clara Wieck, brilliantly conveying the childishness and coquetry of a 15 year old girl, whilst expressing the strength of character and resolution of a young woman aware of her talent and sure of her path; while Anja-Christine Preussler  is excellent as the bossy child that Clara (it drew a laugh from me) must have been, yet still demanding to be told a bedtime story as any other little girl would have done.

The film charts the story of the talented young pianist Clara Wieck, nurtured from a very early age by her stern father Friedrich Wieck - impeccably played by Rolf Hoppe, a piano dealer and teacher, to storm the stages of Europe at practically any cost during the early part of the 19th century, following the revolution in music brought by Beethoven, Schubert, and many other musicians. Regrettably for him, the Romantic composer Robert Schumann (a plausible Herbert Grönemeyer) enters into the picture, dislocating the inexorable path he had traced for Clara to follow, and breaking the very close relationship between daughter and father had – some people would argue to have been too close for comfort, although no sexual abuse is hinted at.

Spring Symphony explores the tormented romance between the brilliant Robert Schumann and the equally brilliant Clara, a relationship that finally led to the rupture of the filial bonds between her and her father, a disappointed and stubborn man who refused to give ground to the love between the two young people, a man who had spent most of his financial and emotional resources on furthering her career. On this respect, whatever his motives were, it could be said that he actually financially and emotionally exploited her.

The film also hints at the clash which was to come between two talented and strong willed musicians, particularly in the last scene when Schumann’s gorgeous Spring Symphony was premiered under the conduction of Felix Mendelssohn.

The Leipzig of the early 19th century has been convincingly portrayed, while the camera work stunningly conveys not only the beauty of Nastassja Kinski, but also her very European sensuality.

Spring Symphony is a must to be seen by all lovers of classical music. It certainly reconnected me with Schumann’s works, a composed who I have, somewhat, neglected. Paganini is another composer that was brought back into the forefront of my mind.

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