World-renowned Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons arrives in Amsterdam to conduct Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony before the city’s equally renowned Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Can the modest yet passionate Nelsons inspire the musicians to understand a masterpiece that shaped his own musical development as an adolescent in the former Soviet Union?

Trailer: English

There are a handful of symphonies that inspire both audiences and performers to vertiginous heights of appreciation. It just so happens that three of these are fifth symphonies, composed in turn by the musical titans Mahler, Beethoven and, of course, Shostakovich.

In NELSONS No 5, Carmen Cobos’ second feature documentary, the world-renowned Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons – a man who is gentle and modest, but deeply passionate about his craft – takes on the Shostakovich masterpiece together with one of the world’s most celebrated ensembles, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

In the film we follow the whole process, from his arrival by plane from the US, where he is music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, through rehearsals characterised by Nelsons’ vigour and sensitivity, finally ending with an impressionistic sequence of three performances of the work. In between, the conductor talks about his stark home-life and musical upbringing in Riga, as well as about the profound effect that the music of Shostakovich had on his development as a musician and conductor.

“This is not the comfortable music of capitalism,” he tells the orchestra. “It should be more than beautiful. Aggressive. Icy. The extremes are important in Shostakovich.”

Director Cobos’ camera is curious but not intrusive, and expertly captures the vitality and inquisitiveness of the orchestra both in rehearsal and in the concert auditorium. It follows Nelsons in reflective mood as he texts home and talks movingly of the young daughter he desperately misses. Cobos also creates a delightful cameo motif for the orchestra’s harpist whose instrument is so prominent within the symphony.

At the end of the film, Nelsons’ work is done and he must leave for another guest conducting appearance in Berlin. And like Shostakovich’s symphony the film ends on a major chord. “It ends with a victory,” proclaims the triumphant conductor.
Nelson Nº 5

Music by Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47
Editor : Diego GUTIÉRREZ
Supervising Editor : Danniel DANNIEL NCE
Director of Photography : Sander SNOEP NSC & Rogier TIMMERMANS
Sound Recordist : Mark WESSNER & Everett PORTER
Sound Designer : Hugo DIJKSTAL
Consultant AVROTROS : Jessica RASPE
Commissioning Editor AVROTROS : Marijke HUIJBREGTS
Written & Produced by : Kees RIJNINKS
Directed by : Carmen COBOS

DUR : 71 min – HD – DCP
English spoken

FILM INCOMPANY – Publicity in the Benelux
Anne Kervers | E: | T: +31 6 16274537 |
Petra van Horssen | E: | T: +31 6 55574720|

A COBOS FILMS PRODUCTION in co-production with AVROTROS made with the financial support of CoBO, FONDS21 and NEDERLANDS FILMFONDS

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