Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Van Cliburn - Concert Pianist |
With Audio CD
Director: Peter Rosen
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Those aren't the Himalayas, those are Van CLiburn's hands
jack crossfire | 09/08/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What you'll get here: 45 minutes of brief statements from people who
know him, a lot of clips of him in various locations, and 15 minutes of clips
from concerts. There are no complete
performances and there are no complete interviews.
It's well known that Van hated making recordings, hated forever carving
in stone the way he did something. For all the microphones and cameras
that surround him on this DVD, he's allowed virtually none of it to get
released. That makes this footage all the more precious.
Nowhere else in the world are you going to see as much of the living
breathing Van Cliburn in your TV. Nowhere else is there more footage
of his Tchaikovsky competition gala and nowhere else can you glimpse
more of him in solo recitals. You can rest assured this is the
absolute most footage of him you'll ever see.
The performance clips are from 2 concerts he gave in the late 50's in
Russia. Although the video is blurry, the sound is incredibly sharp,
undoubtedly recorded on separate equipment for an album which he never
The few minutes of concert footage here reveal a much more vibrant,
spontaneous Cliburn than any of his studio recordings. It confirms his
belief in recordings as pristene references, live performances being
the only suitable time for spontaneity.
It's no secret that Van's early recordings are extremely rigid and
straightforward. Here for the first time we see what he was doing in
live performance during that same time period, and it's like a different pianist.
You see enough of his hands to discover he played with flat fingers
like Horowitz, stayed very close to the keyboard, and played everything
from the shoulder down. That technique resulted in the distinct,
brassy sound of his 1972 recordings but here we see it in 1960. It
took 10 years for him to transfer that tone quality to the studio.
Now there's nothing of the concerts after 1970. The accompanying CD
does not contain the performances that you see on the DVD although it
does contain the same songs. The CD is a reprint of the same studio
recordings you've known for the last 40 years. What those live
performances, especially the Chopin Scherzo, must have sounded like is
entirely up to your imagination."
The Legend of Van Cliburn
BLee | HK | 03/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
A very good biography of his great American pianist. It is good not because of what other people, musician or otherwise, say of him in this DVD as they are not very much to the point anyway. Instead, we are explained how a legend came into birth.
First of all, his musical background. Even though it is true that the finishing touch came from Mrs Lhevinne in the Julliard, it was his mother who taught him to play the piano until he was 17. His mother was not just any accomplished pianist: she was a pupil of Friedheim, himself a pupil of Lizst. There is a clip of Van sitting and listening intently to his mother at the piano: her playing was superb and the way he got spellbound was equally telling.
Furthermore, his rise came in the nick of time: he was the first American to win the International Tsaichovsky Competition ever. Moreover, the prize was won right in the midst of the Cold War. And yet the Russian audience were so spellbound by him, chasing after him bestowing on him all sort of presents in a way the far exceeded the warm reception Kissin experienced in London before or after his Albert Hall recital...
Here we have a glimpse of how he played, and also how passionately the audience applauded him and of how he responded to them on stage. From these clips we can see how spellbinding his playing was, and yet at the same time how witty he was and above all, what sort of personal charm this young artist possessed. His wit was highlighted by the short speech he made on arriving the US airport after snatching the much coveted prize.
Thereafter, he publicized a great deal, mainly by promoting classical music among the younger generation, impressing upon them that classical music is not something illusive and on the other hand, he concertized all over the country so that people in the street would say, "in Rock & Roll we have Elvis and in piano we have Van Cliburn...". Moreover, being the only US Tsaichovsky winner then, he had been playing for all the American Presidents in the White House since then. And the culmination came when he played for President Reagan's national Guest of Honour Mr and Mrs Gorbachev, helping the world to break the ice between the West and the Russians. It obviously worked, for soon afterwards the Berlin Wall was knocked down...
This DVD may be short, as clips of Van Cliburn are rare anyway. But it is quality instead of quantity that matters after all. Without a doubt, this is a very good portrayal of this very talented pianist, both of his legend and of his art.
J. Anderson | Monterey, CA USA | 06/18/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I remember Van Cliburn's Moscow triumph in 1958, and this modest and thoughtful documentary tribute to Cliburn strikes a harmonious note. The performance footage is super. Typical period Russian black and white film and some odd angles, but the playing is unforgettable, at times even moving. There are two long performance clips, not the whole pieces, but very generous cuts of Liszt's Mephisto Waltz and Chopin's Scherzo #3. There's a good deal of performance footage included. I had forgotten Cliburn's touch, and found myself reminded of Stephen Hough - a vivid roundness and intelligence, and playing that, if not profound, exhudes a surfeit of noble restraint that eluded many other pianists of Cliburn's generation. It's odd that the film never mentions the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, celebrated as it is. Get this film to hear again Cliburn playing live, it's something special. Sound is superb, the footage mix is excellent throughout: interviews with musicians and friends (a nice bit from Leontyne Price who was at Julliard with Cliburn), performances, family interviews and footage. A quiet film, much like its legendary subject."
Good biography of Van Cliburn's early years
Goldberg | 06/01/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The other reviewers says it all. This is a very good documentary of one of the greatest pianist in the world. It gives you detailed pictures of Van Cliburn's life since his childhood till he won the Tchaikovsky Competition and the years shortly after that, which is until about 1960s. Then it jumps about 25 years, to the late 1980s, and tells nothing about what he was doing in most of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. Not much word about the famous Van Cliburn Competition either.
This is a great documentary, but not very satisfying as most unknown part of his life wasn't explained.