R. Rockwell | Angwin, CA USA | 01/02/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is a good DVD about Stern's life. It is greatly aided by interesting comments made by a varied group of famous people, violinists and otherwise. These include Eugene Istomin, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Pinchas Zukerman, Zubin Mehta, Jack Benny, Sarah Chang, Gregory Peck, Henry Kissinger, Shimon Peres, Itzhak Perlman, Yo Yo Ma. I watched this DVD after I had seen the excellent one "From Mao to Mozart" which has more depth and many more great extras (this has no video extras). Otherwise I might have given it 4 stars."
Too Much Talking instead of Music Making
BLee | HK | 05/31/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The DVD is brief, but it offers a good sketch of the great violinist of the century the life as well as the vision of this great musicianin a well organized way. There are some very good advice and suggestions on music and music making, like playing not with your head but from your heart and a good teacher is someone who has taught you how to teach yourself etc...
But the most interesting part of this DVD are not the contributors' comments, still less those from the other musicians. Rather it is the short clips from which we could hear the singing of a musician loud and clear through his instrument, the violin.
In his view, it is not absolute pitch that matters, still less virtuosity. Rather, it is his style, or his character that makes the difference. And the point is, as Gregory Peck succintly puts it, he makes you feel better after listening to him! And I share the same feeling, as I have been listening to him since my adolescence. The clips, some in B/W and some in colour, one must say, have done a good job in bringing this point home.
While some might regret that the DVD is short, slightly less than an hour and crammed with so many contributors, and that it is not as colouful as his "From Mao to Mozart"...etc. Be that as it may, there isn't anything amiss from this DVD save and except that there should be a longer clip of violin playing of, say, one whole movement from any of the pieces. Have they included that, it would certainly derserve 5 stars if not more. Having said that, the production is really enjoyable. Viewers who wish to see more of his performance should perhaps check out his Brahms Trios recorded in the 70s with Istomin and Rose or else his recital with A. Zakin on the piano playing Bach, Schubert, Mozart and Brahms (Vai). Recommended.
BLee | 09/20/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a plea for a DVD release of the Oscar-winning documentary: From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China (1980). The documentary recounts Stern's famous visit to China in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution, during which the listening to, and performing of, Western classical music was a capital offence.(It's now 2002 and all's forgiven! The DVD is finally here and it's even better than the original since it contains footage of Stern's reprise visit to China in 1998. The producers managed to track down some the children Stern trained in 1979. We see them practicing again with the master, this time as adult professionals.Stern's earlier insights into the true abilities of his proteges are revealed. In 1979 Stern asked one struggling child violinist to sing, rather than play, a difficult passage. The child grew up to become a professional singer. How did Stern know?!It was very interesting to contrast Stern's teaching style of children with that of adults. With the children he was most forgiving; almost indulgent. With adults he was unforgiving; almost harsh.I formed the view that Stern was a man of great compassion. His students, young and old, desired as much instruction as could be absorbed in the short period of time each had with the master. Stern maximized the learning, based upon the age, experience and psychological fortitude of each of his tutees.PS You get one last glimpse of Stern by buying/renting an entertaining popular film starring Meryl Streep entitled Music of the Heart.)"