Documenting the year in the birth and life of a Steinway concert grand piano, Ben Niles’ “Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037” is a beauty. Tracking the process of crafting a single piano, from its origins as Alaskan lumber to finished $100,000 artifact, Niles’ film never grows mundane, and the appreciations by noted pianists in the Steinway showroom in Queens add to the genial luster. Many of the more compelling documentaries of recent years that depict men at work or the stages of process have been about frightening or deleterious things, such as Nikolaus Weyerhauser’s “Our Daily Bread.” Even for those not predisposed to appreciations of classical music, this is a lovely adventure. The New Republic’s 91-year-old film critic Stanley Kauffmann averred that “Beethoven would have been pleased.” Me, too. With Harry Connick, Jr., Helene Grimaud, Hank Jones, Marcus Roberts and Lang Lang. 85m. (Ray Pride)
“Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037” opens Friday at Siskel.