Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Vladimir Ashkenazy Master Musician|
Actors: Vladimir Ashkenazy, Daniel Barenboim, Itzhak Perlman, Edo De Waart, The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
A Video Biography of Ashkenazy, and More
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 10/26/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a compilation DVD which contains two separate major films about Ashkenazy made by Christopher Nupen, one of the most prominent of classical music documentary makers; he's the one who has done several marvelous documentaries about such instrumentalists as Jacqueline du Pré, Daniel Barenboim, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, and composers like Sibelius and Schubert. The segments on this disc have been released before on VHS if I'm not mistaken and the longest films here are 'The Vital Juices are Russian', a biography in film of Ashkenazy which takes us up to his middle years, and a documentary about Rachmaninoff's Corelli Variations with an extended discussion about the work by Ashkenazy and then a full performance of it recorded in Lugano. There is also a ten minute set of excerpts from other Nupen films featuring Ashkenazy as conductor, with snippets from Respighi's Pines of Rome, Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition (Ravel's orchestration), Sibelius' First Symphony and Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. The DVD concludes with a 38 minute collage of snippets from Nupen's other music-documentary films.
By far the most important and interesting of these is 'The Vital Juices are Russian', 51 minutes long. We meet the young Ashkenazy and see him in his natural habitats -- London, Iceland where he lived with his wife and children -- his wife Thorunn is Icelandic; he met her when they were both students in the Soviet Union -- and on tour in Europe. He comes across as a charming, boyish, serious musician with a strong humorous side and as a loving father and husband. There are many snippets of him playing, but nothing completely. That comes in the Corelli Variations film; in it I found the interview about the work less interesting but its performance is magnificent. The Corelli Variations have always been a signature piece for him and indeed his early recording of it is my own personal favorite.
The conducting bit and the clips from Nupen films are not terribly edifying or interesting except as they make us perhaps want to see the full documentaries from which they are taken. They are trailers, so to speak, and I suppose are meant to tempt us to buy the full versions. Still, 47 minutes of clips from other films don't make for very satisfying viewing.
Still, if you're a fan of Ashkenazy the pianist, this DVD might be for you. The biographical elements of the film are enlightening and entertaining, even moving in some ways, and the glimpses of him playing certainly whet one's appetite. I found myself going back to my collection of him playing Rachmaninoff, for instance, and enjoying them anew.
All the interviews and narration -- all of the latter by Nupen himself -- are in English. Subtitles in German, Spanish, French and Italian are supplied. Total time (including all the extras): 2h40m; Sound: mostly in stereo; Format: mostly 4:3.
Outstanding and Highly Innovative DVD
Anthony Cannatella | Danville, Ca. | 11/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The title above says it all! This DVD is not only enjoyable but wonderfully innovative as well given the talent, humility and "down to earth" persona of Vladimir Ashkenazy. In my opinion, a must buy!!"