Two portraits of the man who single-handedly put the guitar
dooby | 11/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Andres Segovia In Portrait is another release in the continuing Christopher Nupen series presented by BBC/Opus Arte. It consists of 2 vintage documentaries made with the late maestro in his 70s and 80s. The first, "Andres Segovia at Los Olivos," is a 56 minute documentary made with Segovia at his new home "Los Olivos" on the Costa del Sol in the summer of 1967. In it Segovia reflects on his life, his music, his philosophy and his faith. In between we are treated to him playing the guitar in the intimacy of his home. Among the longer pieces played are Torroba's Fandanguillo and the lovely Dansa in G by Granados. He also plays his own transcription of the infectious Gavotte from Bach's Violin Partita in E Major. His playing is so idiomatic that for a moment I actually thought it was one of Bach's pieces for lute (predecessor of the guitar). Throughout the documentary, Segovia avows his love for Granada, the city of his childhood, and which he calls the leitmotiv of his life. He speaks lovingly of his city, saying that to see the beauty of Granada is to be reborn. He takes us on a tour of the famous Alhambra accompanied by snippets of Francisco Tárrega's beautiful tremolo piece "Recuerdos de la Alhambra". Unfortunately we don't get to hear the entire piece. In fact, due to the short running-time of this documentary, what we do get are mostly snippets as there's just no time to present the works in their entirety.
In the second documentary "The Song of the Guitar" made in 1976 when he was 84, Segovia gives us just brief sketches of his life and career while he devotes the rest of the time to playing his guitar beside the lovely reflecting pool of the Alhambra Palace. Recorded over several evenings after the departure of the Alhambra's hordes of tourists, this 48 minute documentary features more full length performances than previously, including works by Albeniz, Scarlatti, Torroba, Ponce and Rameau. He also plays his own transcription of another piece from Bach, the gavotte from the 6th Cello Suite. He may be 84 here, but his playing is still superlative. He would go on playing and performing onstage until just barely a month before his death at the age of 94.
The picture transfer on this DVD is superb. Los Olivos, the first documentary is presented in its original 1.33:1 fullframe. The picture does not look its age at all. It looks like it was made yesterday. It is the most impressive looking documentary from its time period I have yet seen. The image is sharp. Colors are rich and vibrant yet always natural. And there's hardly a speck of dirt to be found. The second documentary "The Song of the Guitar" was shot in 1.85:1 widescreen. Again the picture quality is very good. However for some unfathomable reason, instead of being anamorphically enhanced, it has been letterboxed into a 4:3 frame. This is very odd and unfortunate, seeing as the rest of the DVD including the menus, Nupen's Introductions and all the extras are anamorphically enhanced. The sound in the original uncompressed PCM Stereo is full and rich, enabling you to luxuriate in the plush sonorities of Segovia's guitar playing. Like all DVDs in this series, it comes with a lavishly illustrated 24 page booklet featuring Christopher Nupen's reminiscences on Segovia and the making of these films."
SEGOVIA IN PORTRAIT. A SUPERB PERFORMANCE!
George | from Barcelona, Spain | 12/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Absolutely essential DVD for all guitarists interested in the figure of Andres Segovia, in his beautiful guitar sound, and in the form as he performed the guitar. In ANDRES SEGOVIA AT LOS OLIVOS (1967), only three full pieces are performed by the Master, the rest are excerpts or background music while Segovia narrates anecdotes, or talking about his life and the history of the guitar. But the entire film, places a suitable historical scenario about the favorite Segovia's environment, when he wants to rest for recovering new energy, or wants to be inspired in preparing new guitar arrangements. The list of the performed pieces, and their order of appearance are:
1.LA MAJA DE GOYA, by Enrique Granados (arrangement Miguel Llobet, revised by A. Segovia). 2.SARABANDE from Lute Suite I, BWV 996, by J.S.Bach (arranged by A. Segovia). 3.GAVOTTE EN RONDEAU, from Lute Suite IV, BWV1006A, and Violin Partita III BWV 1006, by J.S.Bach (arranged by A. Segovia). 4.FANDANGUILLO from 'Suite Castellana', by F.M.Torroba. 5.LA FILLA DEL MARXANT (`'The Merchant's Daughter'), a popular Catalonian song, arranged by Miguel Llobet. 6.STUDY Lesson 26 from 'The Complete Works for Guitar' Vol.2 page 52 (Chanterelle 802), by Dionisio Aguado. 7.RECUERDOS DE LA ALHAMBRA (music in background) by Francisco Tarrega. 8.LA ARRULLADORA, Lullaby from Suite 'Platero and I' by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. 9.SPANISH DANCE Nr.10-in G by Enrique Granados (arranged by Miguel Llobet, revised by A. Segovia). 10.LA MAJA DE GOYA (music in background), by Enrique Granados.
In THE SONG OF THE GUITAR (1976), all the scores are full performed by Segovia. The complete list of pieces are:
1.CAPRICHO CATALAN, by Isaac Albeniz (arranged by Michael Lorimer, revised by A. Segovia). 2.LA MAJA DE GOYA, by Enrique Granados (arranged by Miguel Llobet, revised by A. Segovia). 3.TORRE BERMEJA, by Isaac Albeniz (arranged by A. Segovia). 4.SONATA KII.L352, by Domenico Scarlatti (arranged by A. Segovia). 5.MINUET FROM SUITE `PLATEE', by J.P. Rameau (arranged by A. Segovia). 6.MINUET in La, by Fernando Sor. 7.BALETTO & ALLEGRETTO (PRELUDE), by J.M. Ponce. 8.STUDY Lesson 26 from 'The Complete Works for Guitar' Vol.2 page 52 (Chanterelle 802), by Dionisio Aguado. 9.GAVOTTE from Cello Suite VI, BWV 1012, by J.S. Bach (arranged by A. Segovia). 10.PRELUDE Op. 28 Nr. 7, by F.Chopin (arranged by F. Tarrega, revised by A. Segovia) 11.1rst. MOVEMENT `ALLEGRO' of `SONATINA', by F.M. Torroba (revised by A. Segovia). 12. LEYENDA (ASTURIAS) by I. Albeniz (arranged by A. Segovia). 13.EL NOI DE LA MARE, popular Catalonian song (arranged by Miguel Llobet).
A treasured contribution: Now on DVD!
A music critic | 10/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I agree completely with the first review, this DVD is priceless. Not only because the filming & directing (...) was expertly done and truly captures the spirit of the Alhambra while simultaneously transporting you back in time to the spender of guitarists 'Golden Era' - But, the fact that Segovia was one of a kind, surely, no one has ever surpassed or likely ever will in musical mastery.
It contains two films 'Segovia at Los Olivos' & 'The Song of the Guitar' - These two are the most informative and rich of all the films made in homage to the maestro.
The guitar today is being played much differently than in the days of 'true wisdom' (as it were) and these videos must be watched by all who have an interest in the classical instrument or just want some splendid, enjoyable and heart warming music to enthrall their heart and soul into. "
W. C Donovan | Boston, MA | 10/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Put it this way...if you were too young (like me) to have seen the great Segovia perform live, and always wondered what it was like to watch him play and witness his amazing technique, this DVD is for you. He's the best guitar virtuoso there ever was, and he's most certainly the best there ever will be."
We Don't Have Enough of Such Excellent Films
BLee | HK | 11/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
Segovia's English is surprisingly good, particularly his way of expression and choice of words. In these two films, Segovia outlined to us his career in music in English, and for those who can't follow his accent, they are assisted by an English subtitle. And after finishing one topic, having covered the relevant actual sights, Segovia would play us a song, a song played in a way, like the other reviewer said, that is unequalled. And needless to say, the setting of one of the film being Granada and inside the Arabian Palace, a place which is almost as beautiful as heaven.
Here Segovia told us about his first encounter with the guitar. It was in the hands of a Flemenco guitarist whom he first learned to play the guitar: he "remembered" instead of learning the instrument and in3 months he had learned everything. there is also a story about his first recital: a flutist not knowing him being the the soloist, asked him if the young guitarist was talented. He replied, "not at all". The flutist was disgusted and thought he was just jealous but after the recital, the flutist came to him and said the performer deserved his jealousy, as well as his (the flutist's) admiration.
He also talked about stage fright, how his all bones trembled even after he was world famous-- for those who don't have it they just have to wait, wait till they have the talent. He also demonstrated by making different sound with the same tune to us to show us how the guitar is the only polyphonic instrument other the keyboards: it is an orchestra in minature.
He told us he twice "redeemed" the instrument, first from the hands of the Flemenco players and then from its small repertoire. He talked about how, against almost all his friends's advice, he adopted Bach's music for the lute and invited composers to compose music for the instrument and th latter never stopped doing so since. By the way, Sevogia sees the song of a guitar as really a song while violin music is somewhat like talks with a lover; and if your lover betrays you, vent it to your friend with the cello, and if your friend is implicated, then take it with the organ and communicate with God. And he explained the importance of water, the source of life itself, as the source of all music. He also touched upon his love for poetry and his view on the other worldliness...
Note however that (i) one of the films was taped in the middle of the night since during the day, the palace is as usual unavailable for filming or recording. A a result, if you listen carefully enough, sometimes we can hear some birds' noise in the remote background. But that is really quite negligible; (ii) these two films were taped when segovia's age was rather advanced. It might be more subtle but not quite as fiery and intriquing in comparison to his younger age. A most interesting and rewarding DVD to all.