Speaking in Strings
Paola di Florio, Lilibet Foster, Peter Rader, Karen Childs, Ellen Goldwasser
Speaking in Strings is a deeply humanistic portrait of Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, the world-renowned violinist whose unorthodox delivery and brash personality earned her the title "bad girl of the violin." No mere homage, Speaking in Strings unveils not only Nadja's professional struggles and achievements over a fifteen-year soloist career, but also the personal tolls of success and the shattering secrets behind her bout with depression and attempted suicide. In this excruciatingly tender and intimate meditation on the relationship between art and life, filmmaker Paola di Florio reveals an artist battling the consequences of her passionate intensity, an artist whose instrument becomes both the source of her despair and ultimate salvation.
The typical image of a female classical musician is a far cry from the irreverent, jokecracking, chain-smoking, Captain Kirk-fetishizing provocateur that is Nadja. With a performance style that alternately transfixes audiences and draws tirades from critics as too "emotive" and "hormonal," Nadja decimates preconceived notions of stage decorum. Combining memories of a childhood marked by a father's absence, reflections on the precarious balance between work and life, and accounts of her life's unforeseen tragedies and triumphs, the film presents a subject who never ceases to command our attention, concern, and respect. And when the filmic narrative breaks for a Nadja performance, we witness the walls of defiance crumble to reveal a heartbreaking vulnerability and honesty.
A film of acute sensitivity and tenderness, Speaking in Strings is a superb and deserving tribute to this remaricable woman and ground- breaking musician.