Rather disappointing on an extremely important subject : music under Stalin, music in the narrowly controlled autocratic and technocratic soviet branch of socialism. It sure proves one point: the control the Stalinist communist party in the USSR imposed on arts in general and music in particular. But this does not explain why the USSR produced a tremendous proportion of top musicians, composers and conductors in the world in the whole 20th century. What made the USSR so dynamic and creative in music in spite of the totalitarian brand of socialism they developed? Does music need challenge to such a point that it cannot prosper if it is not under a stress artificially created by the hardship of life imposed from a-high in society, a stress that can be political, social, emotional, economic or whatever. The stress is the inspiring element. That's the idea that emerges from this documentary because of the absence of real investigation of the question. The documents quoted here are essential to understand this period of the world's cultural history. Yet the best part remains the sections in which the director explores the job of a conductor, his psyche and his vision of himself, the music, his mission and his task as concerned by the audience. An interesting documentary though probably not deep enough on the historical exploration of soviet cultural history.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne & University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines