October 28th 2017 Release…
October 28th released documentary where two Danish film makers go on a journey telling the story of legendary organist Klaus Wunderlich who sold more than 20 millions records. They travel to England, Germany and Denmark and interview Alan Ashton, Dorothy Timperley, Hady Wolff, Mark Whale, Claudia Hirschfeld, Franz Lambert, Ole Erling, Robert New, Brett Wales, Florian Hutter and more...
REVIEW by IAN KING…
On 28th October 1997 Klaus Wunderlich died aged 66, now twenty years later (and nicely planned… to the day!) a new documentary is being released that delves into the life and career of the German organ maestro.
The documentary is a professional looking affair too, the presenter and interviewer is Danish Wunderlich-fan Jesper Bonde Hansen who is also the director (and a keen bow-tie wearer). The video is narrated by fellow Dane Claus Lund who joins Jesper on an epic 2,000 mile trip from Denmark to the UK and Germany interviewing various people who crossed paths with Klaus, from his first trips to the UK and throughout his illustrious career.
Their first stop is Cornwall and the home of Alan Ashton and his wife Dorothy. Alan talks about Klaus’ fondness for the piano at school when he was a rehearsal pianist, his early meetings and Alan’s love of the first LP he bought, “Hammond Concerto”.
The documentary takes us to Germany and outside of Klaus’s old house where he lived from 1972 to 1980 as well as his ‘museum’ (just down the street) which houses some of his recording equipment. There are interviews with Andreas Mautner, the Editor of the OKEY magazine in Germany, he is also married to Claudia Hirschfeld who shares her memories of her less than affable dealings with Klaus.
Dorothy Ashton (née Timperley) talks about her first contact with Klaus and being asked to set up the Klaus Wunderlich Appreciation Society (on his request). She later passed the reigns of the Society to John & Shirley Mutton who are also interviewed. Klaus asked for the Society to be closed in 1995, just a couple of years before his death.
There are some light hearted interviews with top organists Franz Lambert, Ole Erling and Brett Wales recalling the scantily clad models on his LP covers. There are other stories of his punctuality, while Alan Ashton and Brett share some of the stories of his sometimes funny, sometimes frosty encounters with his fans. His lesser-known spiritual trips to India, Hindu rituals and the German religious book he published in 1980 are also touched upon by friends including fellow organist Mark Whale and Hady Wolff.
Florian Hutter and the thirteen organs in his basement also make an appearance, as does the Danish bus driver who plays his music to his passengers, seemingly whether they like it or not (or whether they want to walk or not), although most seem to conform.
It’s worth mentioning that, while the whole thing is set against a subtle backdrop of Klaus’ music, there is very little video footage of Klaus in the documentary. There is a clip from his first BBC appearance on Pebble Mill in 1978 (and again in 1984), as well as video of him at London’s Penta Hotel in 1977 (although this was Alan Ashton’s Cine film, so sadly no sound) plus there are various other video clips. The main views of Klaus are from the scattering of rare photographs throughout the interviews and narration, many of which are from Alan & Dorothy’s collection (and the KlausWunderlich.com website). Some of these photos have been enhanced with some neat video trickery which even make some of his selected body parts move!
This is a very interesting documentary charting the highs and lows of Klaus’ career from his sell-out concert at The Royal Albert Hall in 1978 (to seven-thousand people) to the slow decline of organ LP sales in the 1980s. The shock news of his death in 1997 and its lack of reporting, even in Germany, are also covered, which seems a sad end for an artist who sold twenty-million records.
The documentary may have been made from a fans perspective, but it’s not all sugar coated and it does a pretty decent job of getting to the heart of this extremely talented but complicated man.
The DVD and Blu-ray are subtitled in English, German and Danish.
The discs are Region Free and in the UK/Australia PAL format.