Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Lots to Annoy, Little to Enjoy
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 02/17/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD appears to be a compilation of three separate filmed BBC television programs of Chopin piano music played by three different pianists--Alfredo Perl, Freddy Kempf, and Angela Hewitt--each of them currently making a notable career, at least according to what I've read and heard. I had never heard any of Perl's playing, only a little of Kempf's, but I have heard and admired a great deal of Hewitt's, including one live all-Bach recital. The program: Perl plays the Préludes, Op. 28, Kempf the Opp. 10 & 25 Études, and Hewitt the Piano Sonata in B Flat Minor, Op. 35 (the 'Funeral March' sonata). Each of the programs is filmed in a different location: Perl at Hopetoun House, Edinburgh; Kempf at Château de Neuville, Gambais, France (in Provence); Hewitt at the Wimbledon Theatre, London.
Before we get to the playing, I need to comment on the production values of this issue. The videography is artsy-fartsy. In each setting we get long shots down hallways, changes in lighting supposedly enhancing the mood of each piece, strange and distracting camera angles, and in the case of Hewitt's portion, shots looking down from a balcony in a completely empty theatre, with spooky lighting; I kept expecting the Phantom of the Opera to appear. The artsiness of the lighting and the unmotivated changes of camera angle were not designed by anyone with much familiarity with the music. Another annoying feature is a complete blackout between études and préludes. And confusingly in the case of Kempf, often when we come back to him, he's wearing a different shirt. OK, it was shot over several days, but that is distracting and unnecessary. What's worse, the sound is not very good in any of these venues. Although three different pianos are used (including, for Hewitt, a lovely sounding Fazioli piano--the other players use Steinway Model D's). But for some reason--and I checked this on two different playback setups--the sound in all three segments is mid-range heavy, so that it sounds like each of the pianos has a head cold. Particularly in Perl's segment (and this may simply be his playing) there is a fair amount of clatter.
Perl does not strike me as a particularly inspired player. The notes are there--mostly--but there is a kind of grayness and lack of inflection (plus the clanging) to his playing that doesn't serve the expressive needs of Chopin's préludes very well. Kempf's playing, to be quite blunt, is often simply a mess. Some of the études, of course, test any pianist's technique, but there is over-pedaling, smudged chords, missed notes, uneven scales and, most annoying, tempo variations that have nothing to do with rubato, but with the technical demands of the music at hand--slowing down when the going gets rough, speeding up again when the pressure is off. He does some lovely playing, particularly in slower études, but the set as a whole is not competitive.
Hewitt, I must say, is a notch better. Her conception of the Second Sonata is musical and expressive. There are some smudges in the first movement particularly but she otherwise manages it well, as she does the Scherzo and Funeral March; the latter is gorgeously done, in fact. But the last movement is marred by a too slow tempo and the blurring use of pedal. The really great Chopinists play that movement with minimal pedal and it goes like the wind.
I cannot recommend this DVD. Although it has some good moments, none of this is superior Chopin playing, although Hewitt comes closer than the others.
TT=ca. 135 mins
5 Star Chopin Concert!
Amy | 04/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Being a piano major in college I am always purchasing classical piano dvd's to watch the pianist's technique and their interpretaion of the composer's music they are playing. So, when I found this dvd on Amazon.com that had so much of Chopin's music I bought it immediately and I was not disappointed. This dvd consists of Mr. Perl playing Chopin's 24 Preludes, Mr. Kempf playing all Opus 10 and Opus 25 Etudes and Ms. Hewitt playing my favorite Piano Sonata in B flat Minor. The dvd is about 2 hours in length, which is longer compared to most classical piano dvd's and very reasonably priced for the quality of music that you get. If you are a pianist like myself or just enjoy beautiful music don't hesitate to buy this dvd."
Buy it for Freddy Kempf
Robert Chan | USA | 04/07/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In my humble opinion, Freddy Kempf is one of the greatest pianists of this era (though he didn't win the first prize in Moscow, but well... who cares! I don't even know who won the first prize when Kempf got the third). His playing of the 24 Etudes is so passionate yet very refined. Probably a tad stronger and more forceful than the Chopin playing of Pires or Zimerman but it is defenitely first rate. The other two pianists featured here, Angela Hewitt and Alfredo Perle did a fine job, though not as striking as Kempf's playing. Five starts for a beautiful production (by BBC), five stars (at least!) for Kempf, three stars for the rest of the DVD."