Saturday, June 25, 2011

film concert Nosferatu (2006 FWMS, Luciano Berriatúa restoration) with Timothy Brock and the Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna playing an arrangement of Heinrich Marschner's Der Vampyr overture

NOSFERATU, EINE SYMPHONIE DES GRAUENS. Nosferatu il vampiro. DE 1922. D: F.W. Murnau. SC: based [n.c.] on the novel Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker; SC: Henrik Galeen; DP: Fritz Arno Wagner; AD: Albin Grau; Cast: Max Schreck (Conte Orlok, Nosferatu), Greta Schröder (Nina), Gustav von Wangenheim (Jonathan Hutter), Georg Heinrich Schnell (Harding), Alexander Granach (Knock), Max Nemetz (il capitano della nave), Ruth Landshoff (Annie), John Gottowt (il professor Bulwer), Gustav Botz (Sievers, il dottore del manicomio), Wolfgang Heinz (Maat), Albert Venohr (marinaio), Hardy von François (dottore dell’ospedale), Guido Herzfeld (albergatore), Karl Etlinger, Heinrich White; P: Prana-Film, GMBh Berlino; Pri. pro.: 5 marzo 1922. 35 mm. 1914 m. 93’ a 18 fps. Col. Deutsche Zwischentitel. From: Friedrich-Wilhelm Murnau-Stiftung. Saturday, 25.6.2011 Piazza Maggiore, Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato. E-subtitles in Italian and English by Sub-Ti.

Musiche dirette da Timothy Brock, eseguite dall'Orchestra del Teatro Comunale, adattamento e riorchestrazione dell'opera Der Vampyr (1826) di Heinrich Marschner, scelta da F.W. Murnau come concerto d'apertura della prima di Nosferatu il 4 settembre 1922 a Berlino.

Catalogue: "Nosferatu was restored by Luciano Berriatúa on behalf of Friedrich-Wilhelm Murnau-Stiftung in 2005/06. A tinted nitrate print with French intertitles from 1922 of La Cinémathèque française was used as a basis for the restoration. Missing shots were completed by a safety print from 1939 of Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, drawn from a Czech export print of the 1920s. Other shots were taken from a nitrate print of the 1930s version, distributed under the title Die zwölfte Stunde, preserved at La Cinémathèque française. Most of the original intertitles and inserts are preserved in a safety print from 1962 of Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, originating from a print of 1922. Missing intertitles and inserts were redesigned on the basis of the original typography by trickWilk. They are marked with F.W.M.S. The lab work was carried out by L’Immagine Ritrovata."

"The romantic atmosphere of Nosferatu, which makes nature’s dark, unseen forces visible with images based on Friedrich, is in fact a faithful reproduction of the spirit of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Why did Murnau choose Lübeck for shooting many of the film’s scenes? Perhaps Murnau was influenced by the haunting image that Edvard Munch created from the facade of an old store in the city. Munch worked in Lübeck between 1902 and 1903. What is certain is that he planned the film around paintings. (…) It may seem a little over the top that Murnau used paintings by his friend Franz Marc like Weidende Pferde, of 1910, at the time kept at the Lenbach Haus in Munich, for a mere shot of backlit horses frightened by hyenas. But I think that Murnau referred to another image by Marc: the wolves howling in the dark of night like in Die Wölfe (Balkan Krieg), of 1913. Murnau replaced the wolves with hyenas but used the image of the horses painted by his friend, which clearly emerges from comparing the film’s unusual framing with Landschaft mit Pferden, of 1909. I believe he changed the wolves into hyenas due to the influence of drawings by Alfred Kubin like Hyäne, of 1920, which depicts the hyena as a kind of vampire devouring human cadavers in cemeteries. A much more striking image than a wolf. (…) But the most significant artistic influence on the film’s character was the work of Kaspar David Friedrich (1774-1840). It was undoubtedly an idea of Murnau to use the works of Friedrich to develop Grau and Galeen’s visual concept of the darks forces of Nature. (…) With the works of these romantic painters, Murnau obtained an unusual result for film. Making the invisible visible. Forcing the presence of the dark forces of Nature on the viewer’s unconscious mind." Luciano Berriatúa: Los proverbios chinos de F. W. Murnau. Etapa alemana, Filmoteca Española, Madrid 1990.

The Adaptation of Heinrich Marschner’s Der Vampyr for Nosferatu

"At the première screening of Nosferatu, in Berlin on March 5th, 1922, it has been well documented that the orchestra that accompanied the film performed as precurtain stage-setter, the operatic overture to Der Vampyr (1826) by German operacomposer Heinrich Marschner. [Mistake in the programme information: Alas, like many original orchestral scores from period of cinematic history, the original score to Nosferatu, by Hans Erdmann, had been lost.] What does survive, ironically, is music that is nearly 100 years older, and was hand-picked by F.W. Murnau himself a suitable prelude for his Symphony of Horrors."

"The great loss of not having the original 1922 Erdmann score gave me the idea to adapt the entire Marschner opera score as an accompanying dramatic narrative, liberally transforming selected scenes, admittedly without regard to the Der Vampyr libretto, as the opera’s scenario is quite unrelated to that of Nosferatu or Bram Stoker’s Dracula."

"I began transcribing the entire opera as raw symphonic material, selecting adaptable scenes and passages, incorporating the vocal lines, and starting anew as a film score. Freeing this music from the confines of its original stage setting, I detailed and developed those passages and made liberal use of the material which I believed made Der Vampyr uniquely beautiful. I found helpful the model used by Schönberg when he adapted the Handel op. 6, or the harpsichord concerto of Matthias Monn, both of which inspired him to create completely new works while striving to maintain the sound and feel of the original source."

"Mind you, the listener will obviously not hear his music as Marschner intended it. I did, however, endeavor to make the same dark and sinister impact that he was hoping to achieve, inspired by his own Vampire fascination (Even Richard Wagner wrote, after the Leipzig premiere in 1828 that he considered the Marschner work one of the great “Demonic” operas of all-time)."

"I have kept nearly the exact original orchestration, with the addition of an organ and a bass-clarinet part. The instrumentation is 2 piccolos, 2 flutes, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, percussion, organ and strings." Timothy Brock.

AA: I saw this 2006 restoration of Nosferatu for the first time, and at the Piazza Maggiore it was difficult to detect what was new and different from the beautiful 1995 Lumière Project restoration. Murnau's masterpiece is always worth revisiting, even in the Piazza where subtle films suffer (Der letzte Mann is not subtle and it worked perfectly on the Piazza). I have come to agree with the Murnau experts who prefer Nosferatu silent. Nosferatu is subtle visual music, "a symphony of horror", that almost always suffers from actual played music. Even Hans Erdmann's original score, which I have had the pleasure to hear in ca 1989 in Theatre Savoy in Helsinki arranged and conducted by Bernd Heller, is not quite satisfactory. But I have to admit now that Heinrich Marschner's overture to Der Vampyr (1826) is a wonderful selection to be played with Nosferatu. The boldly Romantic music befits Nosferatu's Romantic ambience perfectly. Arranged and conducted by Timothy Brock, the Orchestra del Teatro Comunale performed with passion and inspiration.

No comments: