The Golden Age of Piano
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(Apr 08, 2003)
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This DVD presents a definitive survey of the great classical piano virtuosi of the early and mid 20th century, and includes unique historic footage by pianists Claudio Arrau, Vladimir Horowitz, Van Cliburn, Alfred Cortot, Ignace Paderewski, Artur Rubinste
- Includes footage of Claudio Arrau, Alexander Brailowsky, Van Cliburn, Alfred Cortot, Glenn Gould, Percy Grainger, Myra Hess, Josef Hoffmann, Vladimir Horowitz, Wanda Landowska, Ignacy Paderewski, Artur Rubinstein, and Rudolf Serkin
- Bonus: Claudio Arrau Centenary reissued of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 with Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra
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Top Customer Reviews
As for David Dubal as narrator, well, I like David in his many tomes but visually [and those threads aside], I think he all too often reverts, so to speak, back to the lectern at Juilliard while making [and phrasing] remarks as if his viewing audience were just now mastering "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" followed by "Chopsticks." Or perhaps waiting for the muse to strike while "listening" [!] to 4'33"! You know, the DVD 'windshield wiper' revelation about Josef Hofmann or the perpetual doom and gloom 'end of the romantic era' as if to suggest that with the great names of the era now gone, well, so too any possible replacements which further suggests that anything subsequent to the great names would be a mere shadow of what was and hence simply can not be again. Why is that? One could argue that David speaks more of the 'era' being gone versus the music and the interpreters yet the 'era' still lives today essentially 'through' its music and its interpreters, yes?
I know David was a great fan and ardent admirer of Horowitz with a book dedicated to same and an accompanying "Conversations with Horowitz" CD [and which I have, BTW, in fact, I have 'all' of David Dubal's books, they are that good!] but then too the music did not die, as the old song goes, with the passing of Horowitz. Or Arrau. Or Serkin. Et al. The war-horse pieces endure and great interpreters still exist with others waiting in the wings. Put another way, 'demand' will always assure 'supply' as they say [or as our old friend "Father Guido Sarducci" put it in the SNL "5 minute university" skit] not to mention the fact that pianistic prodigies have obviously not ceased being born.
Nor too those who hold dear the music of the so-termed romantic era. Thus far, and quite mercifully, 4'33" or the so-called "prepared piano" [you know, screws, bolts, spoons, marbles, et al fixed or 'free fall' , as it were, on the piano 'strings'] dissonance for the 'sake' of dissonance renditions have 'not' become the vogue of the masses. Hence the war-horses duly survive. As do their willing and able interpreters.
Together with "The Art of Piano" DVD, the "Golden Age of Piano" makes an excellent addition to any classical music video library. This one has an additional bonus feature of Claudio Arrau doing Beethoven's 4th piano concerto with a rather young Riccardo Muti [late of La Scala] although Claudio gives a great performance. I see some refer to Claudio in this piece as "well past his prime" but hey, get a gander of Francis Planté well in his 90's [that clip pf Planté in "The Art of Piano" DVD] doing that Chopin Etude No. 7 in C, Op. 10, fess up now, could you do better? Speaking of Claudio Arrau though, and one of my favorite war-horse piece interpreters, I would highly recommend the DVD "Claudio Arrau: The Emperor" which focuses on his return to Chile in 1984 and, inter alia, the rendition of his almost life-long signature piece, Beethoven's mighty and majestic 5th ["Emperor"] piano concerto.
With Paderewski (Chopin Polanaise and his own Minuet), Hoffmann (Rachmaninoff), Horowitz (Scriabin), and Myra Hess (Apassionata), Serkin (Beethoven), we have exactly the same footage/s. For Cortot, we have some music videos,i.e., a child playing in a corner with some toys to the music. We could only see Cortot's wrists not hands for literally a couple of seconds and that is all-- a great disappointment for Cortot's fans!
The most valuable things that this DVD gives us include: Landowski playing on a harpsichord with a very special kind of finger position. Likewise, Grainger is interesting as he shows us the Busoni/Egon Petri approach, namely "picking up the keys".
For Rubinstein's fans, they could have a glimpse of him playing in a studio recording session with his forearms bare. Moreover, we can see how he listen and respond to his own recording. Serkin was as passionate and colourful and Horowitz as fascinating as ever.
For Van Clibern fans, there are 2 or 3 of his clips which are all very nice albeit somewhat short. Glenn Gould clips is short too, but we have plenty of him in the market. I'm not too sure how many viewers are interested in Brailowski nowadays, but his Chopin is nice nevertheless.
The crown of the jewel here is of course Arrau. Arrau was a child prodigy (a thorough bred in Rubinstein's word) before he went to Berlin and stayed for 7 years to study the piano with Martin Klause, one of Lizst's favourite pupils. His Lizst repertoire including the 12 Transcendal Etudes, Concert Paraphrases on Operas by Verdi, 5 Concert Studies and Pelerinage etc are one of the very best available ever. Not only was his Lizst repertoire much wider than Horowitz but was also more convincing, albeit both are equally staggering. His Lizst legacy is of equal importance with his Beethoven, if not more. I like Cziffra's Lizst ( and his Chopin too ), but I would go back to Arrau more often. In any event, I don't enjoy Earl Wild or even Bolet's Lizst quite as much: for an alternative, I rather go to Lupu.
Here not only do we have his Beethoven no. 4 in full, played with the Philidaephia under Muti, we further have 3 or 4 other short clips of him when he was still very much in his prime which could somehow show us the flexiblity of his arms: they are just like two snakes. Even though his no. 4 is past his prime, the whole performamce was nonetheless a success not just in view of his age at all. In any rate, it much better than Uchida's recent rendition in almost every score!
Simply another not to be missed.