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Category:    Home > Reviews > Music > Classical > Biography > Mini-Series > British TV > Gay > Tchaikovsky – The Tragic Life Of A Music Genius (2007/BBC DVD)

Tchaikovsky – The Tragic Life Of A Music Genius (2007/BBC DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B-     Episodes: B



Listening to his music, you would know little more about Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky than the fact that he made some monumental, enduring music that is still with us today and will endure for centuries to come.  We have covered recordings of his works before, but the BBC recently produced the documentary Mini-series Tchaikovsky – The Tragic Life Of A Music Genius coveting his life, trails, tribulations, fears, homosexuality and music.


The overall story is a sometimes familiar one, but it gets interesting when we get character, context, information connected to all too familiar music that suddenly takes on new meaning and learn as much about the time as the man.  You get a combination of dramatization and narration that can be awkward in parts, but the Matthew Whiteman/Suzi Kline teleplay overcomes some of that with a tight, consistent unraveling of his story that avoids some biopic clichés.  Justifying its length, the program is very good overall and very much worth your time.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is a little soft and a little stylized, but is not bad, though the depth limits may be just the DVD format.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has no surrounds, but is well-recorded overall and the music sounds good.  Even darker than the series, Who Killed Tchaikovsky? is a 1993 BBC special that investigates how he died, suggesting foul play over a simple suicide, as well as a possibility of unusual stupidity.  A 1.33 X 1 production that does not look bad for its age, it is a companion piece that rivals the main program here.



For more on the composer’s classic works, try these links:


The Seasons on SACD



Swan Lake Live/HD-DVD (Opus Arte)




-   Nicholas Sheffo


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