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Yehudi Menuhin: Concert Magic
Yehudi Menuhin Concert Magic
Actors: Eula Beal, Antal Dorati, Adolph Baller
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2005     1hr 15min


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Movie Details

Actors: Eula Beal, Antal Dorati, Adolph Baller
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Classical
Studio: Euroarts
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 09/20/2005
Original Release Date: 01/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 15min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
Edition: Classical
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, French

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Movie Reviews

Menuhin Then and (Almost) Now
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 09/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This DVD contains two sections. The first is a black-and-white feature, 'Concert Magic,' consisting of a 75-minute recital/concert with Menuhin and assisting artists. It was made in the Chaplin Studio in Hollywood in 1947 and is reputed to be the first full-length classical music concert film ever made. In it Menuhin, mostly accompanied by his long-time pianist Adolph Baller, plays various works, mostly short, mostly of encore size, many of them selected from programs Menuhin had played in hundreds of concerts for Allied soldiers during the Second World War. They include such things as the first movement of Beethoven's First Violin Sonata, the unaccompanied 'Prelude' from Bach's Third Partita, Wieniawski's 'Scherzo-Tarantelle,' Paganini's 'Moto Perpetuo,' Locatelli's Caprice subtitled 'Il labarinto armonico,' Bach's 'Air on the G String' (accompanied by Antal Dorati leading an orchestra of Hollywood studio musicians), Paganini's First Caprice (yes, THAT Caprice, and in the now out-of-fashion arrangement for violin and piano made by Fritz Kreisler) and a violin/piano arrangement of Schubert's 'Ave Maria.' He is also heard playing the violin obbligato in 'Erbarme dich' from the St. Matthew Passion (with contralto Eula Beal singing it in English as 'Lord, Have Mercy on Me'). Beal is heard in the Bach/Gounod 'Ave Maria,' and in a smashing performance of Schubert's 'Erlkönig' accompanied by pianist Marguerite Campbell. Polish-American pianist Jakob Gimpel is heard in selections by Liszt, Chopin and Mozart. Audio only (a selection played in movie theaters as patrons took their seats for the 'Concert Magic' movie): Novacek: 'Perpetuum Mobile' with Dorati leading a Hollywood orchestra.

There are a few errors in the title placards before each selection. For instance, Baller is listed as accompanying Menuhin in the unaccompanied Bach 'Prelude,' and Gimpel is listed as playing the 'Chopin Mazurka in C Sharp' when in actuality it is Chopin's Mazurka No. 5 in B Flat. Beal, a singer I'd never heard of, is wonderful. Gimpel, on the other hand, strikes me as a mechanicus who brings little to the music.

The concert is followed by a filmed interview (in color and in English) with Humphrey Burton made in 1997 in Warsaw. Delightfully, Burton shows Menuhin bits and pieces of his performances in the filmed recital and Menuhin makes comments about his playing (he is not falsely modest), about the filming itself, about the circumstances of the film's release. There is a good deal of technical talk about violin-playing technique that would certainly be of interest to violinists, I should think, but in language that the interested layperson could understand and enjoy.

It is a joy to see and hear the 32-year-old Menuhin in his prime in the black-and-white feature and even more so to hear him talk intelligently and charmingly precisely 50 years later as an eminence grise of the music world.

'Concert Magic' 75 minutes
Menuhin/Burton interview 57 minutes
Subtitles in English only. Sound PCM stereo

Scott Morrison"
Rare chance
snerdly | California | 10/26/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This is a rare chance to see younger Menuhin in quite a few selections. Could have bee handled better, though. Picture and sound occasionally out of sync, sound not cleaned up, picture restoration kind of non-existent...seems generally to have been not handled with the kind of tender loving care the rarity of the material demands and the product notes boast about. That being said, having seen it, I would have bought it anyway for the opportunity to see Menuhin. Not insurmountable difficulties for the somewhat adventurous viewer/listener."
Yehudi Menuhin scrambles to restart his American career, and
Skripkaman | West Hollywood, California | 06/18/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"In recent years Yehudi Menuhin has come to be known first as Sir Yehudi, and finally Lord Menuhin. This film is not about that guy. This is an almost voyeuristic look into the desperate life of a young has-been, trying to recreate something that he may have never quite understood in the first place. During the years before the making of this film, something very profound had happened to Menuhin. For a reason never revealed to his closest contacts, his playing let him down, down, and further down. It seems the harder he tried the worse it got. Living off of a name that he established as possibly the greatest wunderkind off all time, he played for wounded troops during WWII, and waited for the war to end so he could return to the German concert stage that had established him as a great artist when his age was still in single digits. During one of these trips he even went so far as to visit a liberated Nazi death camp for a photo op. In 1947 he put together with a rag-tag film company, this outrageously pretentious attempt to bring the average American (peasant) into the concert hall and introduce him/her to great musical artistry.
With his name to head the bill, backing came. Virtual unknowns to the general public were used to fill in the missing parts. After all, the film industry in Hollywood was filled with fine artists making a living without glorious names. Jakob Gimpel was the brother of concert violinist
Branislaw Gimpel, and as I grew up in Los Angeles accompanying his concerto performances with many local orchestras, I have always been partial to his playing. He is not a show stopper, but a very accurate and tasteful pianist. The soprano Eula Beale steals the movie for me. I find her to be a delicious artist, with class, taste, and a wonderfully musical style. She is well schooled, and never over sings.
But, getting back to the star of this under screened flop, Menuhin has some magnificent moments. Of course, they are all pre-records, and Menuhin never did master the art of sync playing. So the playing and the sounds don't always match. Still, the visual images reveal a unique style of playing and a mastery that was one in the world. If his unique technical style was his downfall, it is still worth seeing. His sound is as unique as his look, and it is a beautiful sound. I remember hearing it as a child and then as a young man, long after his technical mastery had become hit-and-miss. The sound, that silvery sound was the last thing to go, and when it finally did leave by the mid to late 70s, there was truly nothing left. Despite all of it's flaws and mistakes, I would recommend this film to any lover of great music or violinist. It is one of a kind,
as he was. The music will take you to a different time; a time when sheer beauty was the aesthetic goal, and the music was treated with greatest respect by the performers and audiences alike."