This is a competent and occasionally captivating profile of perhaps the most famous conductor of the second half of the twentieth century. Sir Georg Solti's life was inspiring and dynamic, filled with musical experiences spanning eight decades. For this reason, I agree with one reviewer that the film feels "too-brief." But the brevity of the piece helps to keep the material as dynamic as the man himself.
The documentary is basically divided into five segments that flow into one another seamlessly: Solti's early life, up to and including his stint with the Munich Opera; his controversial engagement with the Royal Opera at Covent Garden; the historic studio recording sessions of Wagner's "Ring" cycle with Decca; Solti's encounters with composer Richard Strauss; and Sir Georg's later years with the Chicago Symphony. Of these sequences, I found the famous studio sessions to be the most interesting. As one would expect, interviews with family, friends and colleagues are liberally sprinkled throughout the program. Added to these are numerous location shots of several cities and their music halls, with a trip to the home of Richard Strauss as one of the highlights. Essentially, the film follows the same format as Solti's "Memoirs," which appears to have been worked on simultaneously. The maestro showed great timing to the end, for both works were finished very shortly before his death.
Though this documentary is obviously the work of professionals, it lacks the electricity of more creative minds. Nevertheless, the filmmakers managed to produce a fairly engaging film on a limited budget. It appears that a digital camera was used in the process; while the video quality is not film-like, it is generally very sharp and clean. The audio is pleasing, as it should be for material that is musically pregnant. There are no supplements included, not even subtitles. Captions would have been useful, as some in the film, including the subject, are occasionally hard to understand due to their accents.
Fans of Solti, and classical music in general, should be interested in considering purchase of this DVD. Those that have read his autobiography may want to pass, since the film covers little that isn't discussed in the book. Some who haven't may prefer to watch the film instead. In any event, this DVD respectably chronicles the life of a great musician.