Continuing the Chantal Akerman retrospective
Avec Sonia Wieder-Atherton & A L'est Avec Sonia Wieder-Atherton
Thursday 16th July 2015, 6.40pm
Nothing from a filmmaker as great as Akerman is ever trivial.
We believe these films have never been seen in the UK, and yet they are indelibly the work of Akerman. Music, and musical thinking, is always at the heart of Akerman's practice, and here she makes music the centre stage subject, in homage to her friend and collaborator. But there may yet also be a reparative purpose.
Avec Sonia Wieder-Atherton
The great cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton has been present in much of Akerman’s work since the 1980s, whether on soundtracks (a great number), as a protagonist (in Rue Mallet-Stevens), and in this case as subject of an extended documentary showcase. In the traditional manner of French television cultural documentation, we begin with a voice over from the filmmaker, situating and describing her subject. Following this Wider-Atherton takes over the narrative, sitting before the camera for an extended presentation of her life and art. Of particular relevance, given her relationship with Akerman, are her thoughts on interaction and exchange between artists.
Following this, Akerman moves her camera around as music is made, creating lovely views and angles and framings at will.
The music played includes a Jewish folk tune, Monteverdi, Janáček, Berio, Schubert, and not least Wieder-Atherton’s famed partnership with the British pianist Imogen Cooper to play Brahms.
Perfomers: Sonia Wider-Atherton (cello), Imogen Cooper (piano), Sarah Iancu (violin), Matthieu Lejeune (violin)
Avec Sonia Wieder-Atherton, dir. Chantal Akerman, 2002, 52 mins
A l'est avec Sonia Wieder-Atherton parts 1&2 (In the East with Sonia Wieder-Atherton)
Sonia Wieder-Atherton announces her programme: to gather music from the east of Europe, from Mitteleuropa. First she reveals her approach to curation, to orchestration and arrangement. The composers she chooses and arranges include Rachmaninov, Dohnanyi, Tcherepnin, Franck Krawczyk, Martinu, Mahler and Martinů.
If these works have anything in common, it is above all a sense of longing, a honeyed lyricism that evokes distant horizons and resignation. Akerman is content to find a series of angles and to edit as little as necessary, above all to limit her presence. This is a tender offering. Wider-Atherton is a remarkable cellist. The plangent tone of the cello must bring tears to any eye.
In some ways this is a recovery, or reconfiguration, of Europe as a site of culture and expression, rather than as as site of devastation, pogrom and Shoah.
Performers: Sonia Wieder-Atherton, Cyril Dupuy and others.
A l'est avec Sonia Wieder-Atherton parts 1&2, dir. Chantal Akerman, 2009, 44+ 42 mins