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Tatiana Nikolayeva:  Shostakovich
Tatiana Nikolayeva Shostakovich
Actor: Dmitri Shostakovich
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
NR     2008     2hr 30min

Some DVDs are self-recommending; i.e., they offer definitive performances by great artists. That?s the case in this 1992 BBC-derived production of Tatiana Nikolayeva playing Shostakovich?s Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87, a wo...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Dmitri Shostakovich
Creator: Tatiana Nikolayeva
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Classical, Documentary
Studio: Euroarts
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 06/24/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/1992
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1992
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 2hr 30min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
Edition: Classical
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: Russian
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Shostakovich's 'Intimate Diary' Played by Its Dedicatee
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 07/21/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"At the Leipzig Bach Piano Competition held in 1950 on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Bach's death, Dmitri Shostakovich was the chief judge. The winning pianist was a 26-year-old Russian, Tatiana Nikolayeva. The two met and began what was to become a lifelong friendship. Hearing so much Bach so impressed Shostakovich that a year later he composed what became his Op. 87, the 24 Preludes and Fugues for piano, inspired by Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier which Nikolayeva had played so well in Leipzig. He dedicated the work to her, she premiered it in 1952, and the set became the work with which Nikolayeva was most closely associated. She recorded it a number of times. Forty years later in December 1992 she was filmed playing the work in the BBC studio. The set was then telecast piecemeal over a period of several days during that year's Christmas season. Only a year later Nikolayeva died at the age of sixty-nine.

The Preludes and Fugues are written in each of the twenty-four major and minor keys of the chromatic scale. Rather than being arranged in parallel major and minor pairs (C Major/C Minor; D Flat Major/C Sharp Minor, etc.) ascending the chromatic scale, Shostakovich's set is arranged in ascending major and relative minor pairs (C major/A minor; G Major/E minor, etc.). Each fugue is based on a musical fragment taken from its preceding prelude. The set takes about 2 1/2 hours to play.

Nikolayeva is filmed in a setting that is made mildly abstract by use of a fanciful set and creative lighting. (The arrangements of colors reminded me of the paintings of Vassily Kandinsky). She is dressed in a floor length black gown accented only by a pearl and onyx brooch. She had thickened in her later years and with her hair pulled tightly back into a proper bun, she reminds one of an elegant Russian babushka. The camera focuses much of the time on her pudgy but strong hands, but there are long shots and head shots from time to time. Her posture at the piano is upright, almost motionless except for her hands and arms. At times she appears to be almost in a trance. Her playing is subtle, sensitively nuanced and under utter control. The overall effect is hypnotic. One cannot but feel that Nikolayeva's performance is definitive. Sound is slightly reverberant but quite acceptable.

There is a fourteen minute documentary featuring Nikolayeva talking about the 1950 Bach competition and her meeting with and developing friendship with Shostakovich. There is black & white footage of the two of them in Leipzig as well as in his apartment. There is also footage of his historic 1949 trip to New York as cultural emissary of the Soviet government. She comments that the great conductor Kurt Sanderling had said to her that the Preludes and Fugues were Shostakovich's 'intimate diary.'

For anyone loving this work and familiar with any of the several of Nikolayeva's recordings of it, this DVD is self-recommending.

Running time: 164mins (Performance: 150 mins; Documentary: 14mins); Format: NTSC 4:3; Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0; Subtitles: English (Documentary is in Russian with English subtitles); Region code: 0 (worldwide)

Scott Morrison

Nikolayeva, master of masters
klavaza | Miami, FL USA | 08/21/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"When it comes to Shostakovich's Preludes Tatiana Nikolayeva is the abosulte master. One thing is to hear her performances, another to see her absolute dominion and mastership of everything needed to be a great concert master. You will see her flawless hands movements, her incredible fingering and how she can obtain crescendos and pianissimos pressing the keys all the way down. Old school, if you want, but perfect. On an subjective feelings I discovered her beyond the audible spectrum, although I have heard many times her The Art of The Fugue incomparable performances. I f you like Shostakovich and/or if you like virtuoso performances, do yourself a favor, and get this DVD."
Ben Abraham | New York, New York | 10/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Everything about this DVD is first rate. The compositions are masterpieces. The performer plays them better than anyone else. The film was made with patience, care, intelligence, and forethought -- it is interesting to watch without being distracting from the performance. As to the performance... it is beautiful. We are lucky this film exists!"
Absolutement phantastique !
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Pour tous qui aime la musique de Nikolayeva, ce dvd est un "must".
Acheter immediatement."