A Most Inspiring Piano DVD Because of Complete Performances!
BLee | 08/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've purchased almost every piano DVD/video currently available on the market featuring pianists. What makes this DVD outstanding -- first among few equals -- is that TWO outstanding pianists are featured who perform complete "classical" repertoire. Too many piano DVDs/Videos provide only snippets of performances, e.g. The Art of the Piano (which is also flawed by featuring mediocre to above average pianists as commentators --even Kissin is merely above average, since he plays with a terrible "claw hand" that limits his technique and musicality, and he's much too young and undeveloped as a pianist, despite his appearance in the "Great Pianists of the Twentieth Century" CD collection, which incidentally omitted pianists superior to Kissin, like Emmanuel Ax; is Sandor even a "good" pianist???). In this Claudio Arrau DVD, you have Arrau and Solomon featuring two completely different styles of pianism: Arrau's elevated Germanic pianism and Solomon's fluid classically romantic style (ala' the Russian virtuosos). I must admit that Arrau is sometimes inconsistent. He can be tremendously passionate and gifted as in his 80th birthday recital video, or outright boring. In this DVD, he's outstandingly wonderful. It's well worth the cash, and I was pleasantly overjoyed to see Solomon play the entire Appassionata. God, was Solomon a super plus pianist! What an effortless style and incredible technique. His left hand was fantastic! Such caressing of keys...such flowing hands! Where has all the wonderful footage of complete piano performances gone? Why do we music lovers (and music companies!!!) allow all this wonderful footage to waste in some unknown record or film company vaults? What we need are more DVDs/Videos featuring complete performances of the great pianists! There is a new genius pianist called Arcadi Volodos who MUST come out with a DVD! He's simply the greatest living pianist today in the league of the truly superlative greats: for example, Josef Hofman and Solomon. Please keep me in touch of available DVDs/Videos by writing a review of this same DVD featuring Arrau and Solomon!"
I Know I'll Go Back To It Often
BLee | HK | 07/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"How come we have such a repertoire? Why these pieces and why in such an order? And why together with Solomon? The availability of the films is of course a major consideration. But then why in such an order? The quality of these films has a lot to do with such an order. The first one is the best, both in sound and in vision. The collaboration with the orchestra was wonderful, in rhythm and in musical effects, everything. With Arrau, it is a standard thing. His power to unify large scale structures and to cumulate paces for dramatic effects are amazing, and these are all on top of a most beautiful tone and perfect phrasing. Depiction of his hands comes only occasionally. What we have is somewhat like what you see when you attend a concert. But his interpretation is the very best one could ever hope for--as perfect as perfection itself. Like very old and pure cogniac, it's always contained within an old bottle.The sound and visual qualities of the second piece is not so good as the first one. The speed of filming was not fast enough and when the tempo is fast, the vision of his hands, particularly his fingers is blurred and the higher notes are slightly distorted. But as far as music and interpretation is concerned, like the first piece, they are very instructive indeed. Here we have the subtleties of rhythmic flexibility and tone colouring of the highest degree. The weakest in sound and vision but not music, is the third piece. One wouldn't suppose it could stand alone as a commercial recording. But as a historical recording, it's more than acceptable. Then comes Solomon in the form of a bonus. We are told that this is the only video of Solomon. The quality of this footage is poor and that explains why it comes as a bonus. It's something like the earliest B/W photos we have but in the form of video. But the music is a different matter altogether. For those who have heard of Solomon's myth should lend his ear to this piece-- it is more impressing than any piece in his Philips Great Pianist of the Century. The delicacy and nuances of his tone coming in torrents and his power of contrasts is quite stunning. I wouldn't use the word "simplicity" to describe Solomon, nor the the word "ease" but his command is absolute. His playing is more attuned to modern taste. I have actually compared the same piece played by Arrau in his 80th Birthday recital. The latter's deeper where even contrasts are unified, the thunderings serve only as shadings and even then they are always in perfect balance with the melodic lines...Both pisnists were about 50 year of age when these pieces were filmed, both in their very prime. Arraus's Waldstein is inwardly shocking even when played as late as his 80th Birthday. So needless to say, these are all wonderful stuff here. He certainly reminds us of De Greef and of Edwin Fischer. And it's difficult to think of what else to expect, as everything is so perfect by itself. With him passing away, the golden age of pianists shall we say, has come to an end."
The Master at work
BLee | 05/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There is absolutely no one, in my opinion (and I believe there will be countless others who will agree), who plays the Op. 111 better than Arrau. He truly has a complete understanding of this work.The Schumann performances were a special treat. To see Arrau earlier in life and perform gave me a view of what Arrau was like before I actually saw him live."
It's a mystery why Solomon's not highlighted as the main ite
SwissDave | Switzerland | 01/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You may not yet know it, but you want this DVD for the filler that's not even indicated on the (front) cover: Solomon playing Beethoven's Appassionata. What graceful playing! What a great interpretation, by the way. If you're addicted, and you will be, there is a 1954 HMV studio recording of the same piece re-issued by Testament, again, one of the better Appassionatas I've heard (other must-have recordings - albeit not videos - are Richter's 1960 Moscow recital, Moravec's 1962 and Schnabel's 1933 studio recordings).
Not that the Arrau items aren't worth having, of course: the Op. 111 here is particularly noble, deep in the keys playing, not quite as clean and rythmic as his 1965 studio recording, but a transcendental experience all the same, especially since one gets to watch it, too. Arrau's Carnaval here is a bit stodgy compared to his 1966 and especially 1939 studio traversals, as is the Concerto compared to his 1980 and 1963 studio recordings, but he's still a pleasure to watch. I tend to return to the Op. 111 and that Solomon filler most often, though.
Sound quality, all in mono, is acceptable, picture quality perhaps a bit less so, but to reiterate the obvious: get a copy - you'll know you've always wanted this soon enough.
Greetings from Switzerland, David."