Fascinating doco penetrates the mysterious inner life and communal ego of the famously closed, elite Berlin Philharmonic during a breakneck concert tour of Asia with conductor Sir Simon Rattle.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2009
A must for any classical music fan, this film proves the principle that you never really know your colleagues until you travel with them. The colleagues here make up one of the great institutions of Western music, the Berlin Philharmonic, seen with their charismatic conductor Sir Simon Rattle during a breakneck concert tour of Asia. Thomas Grube (Rhythm Is It!) has been granted amazingly intimate access to a famously closed and self-governing society of elite musicians. With the tour serving as a probation period for several young players seeking membership of the orchestra, The Quest for Harmony is fraught with serious pressure. On an exhausting journey far from home, caught up in a potent double-bind of duty and passion, the players' commitment is stretched to the limit. Expect thrilling performances of Thomas Adès' ‘Asyla’, Beethoven's ‘Eroica’ and Richard Strauss' ‘Ein Heldenleben’. — BG
“An outward expedition is eclipsed by a more fruitful inward journey... the tour also acts as a road test for a select few musicians given a probationary period before being tapped as full-fledged members of the orchestra. Except for an exhilarating section set in Taipei where the ensemble gets a rock star's welcome, Asia is almost incidental. The title is both accurate - as it describes where they go - and misleading, as the film's talking heads would be just as fascinating if the tour took place at the North Pole... The charismatic Rattle takes up substantial screen time, but many members of the ensemble also speak on camera, eloquently revealing the disparate personalities that unite to create the single entity of an orchestra.” — Russell Edwards, Variety