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Showing 31-35 of 35 reviews(5 star). Show all reviews
on April 14, 2007
A few matters on this one [although my favorite still remains the 1989 8th Van Cliburn competition, "Here to Make Music"] -- it is true that this production [not by Peter Rosen by the way ... and it showed .. not as a slight by any means to director Andy Sommer but in terms of competitor focus as the field was de facto narrowed to the six finalists. On the other hand, by so doing, more pieces were available by the finalists versus previous DVD's where an attempt was made to get many pieces into the DVD and, as a result, you get 30 second mixed bag sound-bytes.

So too, let the soothsayers weep who predicted that the media and various wag dubbed "the Undertaker" [sic] and/or "the Iceman" [sic] labels were the proverbial kiss of death for the so-termed "far too serious and overly intellectual in demeanor" [sic] Alexander Kobrin because, hey, was it not the then 25 year old Kobrin who had the last 'dig', as it were, by bringing home the gold!

I also liked the charismatic demeanor of Davide Cabassi but then, as one can see, being charismatic and popular [and he was and is!] guarantees nothing! I liked his rendition of the 2nd movement "Appassionata" [I love playing that piece although trying to explain away my missed notes and/or clinkers as a sort of ad hoc improv goes no-where fast with those in the know!] although I must say that the Lang Lang like facial muggings should have their limits! I don't know, perhaps that's just a thing with me but when pianists go into a sort of facial amalgam of Stevie Wonder, Lang Lang or a TAH-TAH-TAH-TAH gone meshuggah bad 'chair' day [presently reposing under glass at the GG museum in Canada] of our old friend "GG" [Glenn Gould] or whatever which could set GG off and running, well, as I said, there are limits! I can almost hear the echo as I peck this out, to wit, "Hrrrrumph! Obviously an ultra staid Claudio Arrau fan!" How did you guess but with due qualification: Claudio Arrau, decidedly, but facially ultra somber a la mode as if Chopin's B-Flat minor "Funeral March" was the entire recital, no-no, although a happy medium is much preferred! ;-)

The DVD was good and if you want a real treat in terms of viewer opinions, check out the Van Cliburn website cited 2005 competition blog which only proves that opinions, my own well inclusive of course, are like you-know-what in the sense that everyone has one, true enough, but then, hey, who is to say which view becomes the "Burning Bush" or definitive take-it-to-the-bank view, yes?

And there is not a competition going be that the Van Cliburn or the Leeds or what-have-you around the globe where one will 'always' see the words, "He/She was robbed! HOW could the jury EVER have picked [fill in the name of choice], I mean what were they thinking?" but then too when Alexei Sultanov won in '89 and I liked his playing and interpretations and felt he 'earned' his gold medal, need I mention jury member Gyorgy Sandor doing his great stone-face impression and declaring Sultanov's win, and I quote, a "tremendous scandal" [sic] with John Lill concurring albeit with more diplomatic language. Talk about noshing on lemons! Whew! And at least the facial reaction of Mr. Sandor caught on film to boot!

But then Joyce Yang was herself only 19 for the silver win in 2005! What difference the age when the play/interpretation over 'various' pieces is the thing! Not to mention the matter of the required pieces or the usual Van Cliburn competition 'written for the occasion' commissioned piece where the lead time to learn and dissect the new piece is not that long! Add to everything else the "goldfish bowl" aspect of the thing because I think it's reasonably fair to say that a good percentage of players become more prone to those missed notes or clinkers when the many eyes and ears of the crowd [not to mention the red eye of the camera itself] are upon you and, certainly, the competition one faces being equally formidable! Recall Yang, "Well, I was nervous not so much when I got there but when I heard the 'others' [emphasis mine] play ... and my very best may just not be good enough ... ."

What's that? Ahh! A detractor musing that piano competition 'jitters' should be a non issue with pianistic 'professionals' ! But then, I don't recall seeing your name or nym for the recently announced 2007 Van Cliburn 'Outstanding Amateurs' competition or are you holding out for the next 'pro' Van Cliburn or quite possibly the equally well known Leeds across the waters!? ;-) [Please note the smiley!]. Oh, this too, my vote for the best quip [!?] of the DVD -- you know, the journalist who says to Cabassi and Kobrin, "So, we have the Italian lover and the Russian whatever!" [sic]

Doc Tony
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on July 2, 2006
A wonderful film of a real-life piano competition, pure drama, and great music. What a pity that "Ben" whose vituperative, conspiracy-theory-riddled so-called "review" appears here on Amazon. He (or possible she) is dismayed that so many reviews were submitted between May 11 and the end of May. Poor Ben seems to be so distanced from reality that he (or she) is unaware that these very dates cover Mothers Day, the run-up to Fathers Day, and thousands of graduations. Other than the pre-Christmas rush to buy gifts, this is the retail sector's most intense selling season, and thus it is unsurprising that a cluster of reviews appeared then.

"Ben" imperiously scorns other, more favorable reviewers in part on the grounds that they chose anonymity, and have written no other Amazon reviews: in taking this odd tack, "Ben" is ironically describing his (or her) own dear self: totally anonymous and with no prior Amazon reviews! If "Ben" were the Sherlock Holmes of his (or her) rich fantasy life, he (or she) would see that many reviews are highly specific in their praise of precise aspects of this DVD. It is pitiable that there exists a person so filled with narcissism and paranoia that he (or she) imagines a vast Van Cliburn conspiracy behind genuine enthusiam---and behind views that happen to differ from his (or her) own. It would be stooping to "Ben"'s own level to imagine that he (or she) was an unsuccessful competitor in the Van Cliburn Competition, now out to "get" the people he (or she) imagines spurned his or her great reservoir of talent.

"Alandra" (or it that you, again, "Ben"?) appears to want full performances of entire concerts. This is a reasonable wish, but cannot be granted by this particular DVD, which does not in any way promise entire performances. It is, rather,a glorious showing of parts of this competition, but not whole, uncut concerti and other works. It shows highlights, and fascinating interviews with the competitors, as well as wonderful moments throughout the events.

One of the advantages of the Amazon review section is that customers may encourage other like-minded people to enjoy what they have enjoyed.

Taking out after others who happen to have different tastes and have reached different conclusions is a sad reminder that the world does include unfortunate people seized by rage and filled with venom when their opinions are not shared by others.
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on July 3, 2006
All visitors to this page should be alerted that "The Ear" and "Ben" and "Alandra" cannot seem to tolerate diagreement with their negative views. This is sad, both for visitors to this web page, and for, which permits reviewers to have pen names if they prefer. Not everyone is like "The Ear" and desirous of public exposure. Some people feel as did Lawrence Arabia: "My name is for my friends."

I have seen all the Van Cliburn Competition DVDs and VHS tapes, and there is no question that this one is, indeed different from the earlier ones. That is what artistic creativity is all about. How dull it would be if each competition were filmed and presented in exactly the same way. I happen to prefer this one to the earlier ones because I enjoyed the fast cuts, the impressionistic approach that was more like a very interesting mosaic than like a highly realistic photograph.

But tastes differ, and for some reason, some of the very vituperative reviewers have taken it upon themselves to attack those who (1) have used pen names and (2) have made their positive responses brief. Their brevity and their use of pen names do not invalidate their enthusiasm, which unlike the angry conspiracy theorists, I happen to share. I have read all the other reviews and they appear to me to be motivated by enthusiasm for this DVD. If "The Ear" and "Ben" didn't like the DVD, so be it.

They needn't attack the messengers of a contrary reaction. Whether "The Ear" knows it or not, there is great diversity in people's responses to everything in life.

I loved this DVD and will continue to enjoy it while "The Ear" and "Ben" stew in their own angry juices. I hope that one day they find that music hath charms that will soothe their savagery---both toward this DVD and toward their fellow reviewers.
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on July 12, 2008
I have purchased allmost all previous issues and they have improved over previous ones.Of course, I will prefer a longer rendition of the music starting with next issue.
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on July 7, 2006
The impact of this DVD is earth-shattering.

Films such as Citizen Kane, The Godfather, and Schindlers List pale in comparison to this staggering, luminescent, wondrous cinematic masterpiece.

This is not an an over-the-top comment, but rather the understatement of the century.

This stunning portrayal of artistry and pianistic struggle should be ranked as one of the pinnacles of human civilization, rivaling the advent of fire, as well as the miracle of the loaves and fishes.

Again, this is an understatement.


One billion thumbs-up and 5 gazilion stars !!!!!!!!!!
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