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A Surprise in Texas

4.4 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

In May 2009, twenty-nine of the world's best young pianists converged in Fort Worth, Texas for a once in a lifetime chance at gold in the thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Emmy-winning director Peter Rosen follows these distinctive personalities during a rigorous three-week competition through intense rehearsals, introspective moments, pre-concert rituals, and endearing celebrations.
With the performances of Chopin, Liszt, Beethoven, and Rachmaninoff and other piano masterpieces setting the impassioned tone, the result is an intricate inside view into the inner workings of the world's most prestigious piano competition and a
heartwarming story that proves to be a momentous surprise in Texas.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: James Conlon, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Takacs Quartet, Chopin, Liszt
  • Directors: Peter Rosen
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: German (PCM Stereo), English (PCM Stereo), French (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, French, German
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: EuroArts
  • DVD Release Date: September 1, 2010
  • Run Time: 140 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003X859HA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,012 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I viewed this documentary for the first time on PBS, initially following the television broadcast nonchalantly while working on my computer. By the end of the film, I was in tears and on my feet.

Peter Rosen has given us a gripping and sensitive portrayal of the contestants, the jury, the musicians and other people involved in the 13th Van Cliburn Piano Competition. Rosen has been criticized for focusing too much on one competitor in particular, the young Japanese Nobuyuki Tsujii. Personally, I am thankful that Rosen did
that. I became increasing drawn to the film as I started to take note of Tsujii. At the time of my first viewing, I was unaware of his blindness nor the outcome of the competition, so the gentle build-up of admiration for this seemingly ungainly young man worked perfectly on me. I was entranced by the piano performances and touched by the footage of Nobuyuki's interaction with his Fort Worth host family, the Takacs Quartet, the Fort Worth
Symphony Orchestra, and conductor James Conlon. One scene that I can't get out of my head is that of Tsujii's mother standing alone backstage, her hands clutching at her heart and her face turned heavenward, while on stage Nobuyuki performs Rachmaninoff Concerto No 2 in the final round of the competition.

In a world beset with troubles and uncertainties, it is a privilege to witness a miracle that blossoms from a perfect storm of extraordinary talent, indomitable human spirits, and unconditional love. Bravo to Peter Rosen!

Footnote: The music ("Whisper of the River")that plays on the soundtrack as the final film credits roll is composed by Nobuyuki Tsujii -- a fitting end note.
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We are told that "we entertain angels unaware"... well, in Nobuyuki, we are entertained by a young pianist from Japan who exudes all those qualities that make us feel good about life. I think Nobu's persona and playing would cause any serious viewer to wonder if God was not doing one of those rare, special 'things' in His world through this very lovable young and blind man!

I have been following this wonderful competition for many years and have the other DVD's and tapes. The quality and level of pianistic virtuosity displayed in the 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition surpasses all previous ones in my humble opinion. Ran Dant and all 6 finalists were stunning and spectacular and you just wanted all of them to win the Gold. Mariangelina Vocatello was my favorite, next to Nobu, but then watching and hearing Yeol Eum Som conquer the formidable Prokofiev 2nd is unbelievable also. If you really love and appreciate piano played at its absolute finest, this dvd is for you. Yes, I too would have liked more piano time but the human interest stories here were too good to neglect and anyway, you can go to Cliburn.tv webcast of ALL the performances that still can be seen and heard at that website.
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I have followed the Van Cliburn competition over the years and found this to be the best yet. I have watched it numerous times and it seems fresh everytime I view it. The format provides insight into the competitors, the conductor and the judges in a most interesting way. I liked it so much I had a copy of the DVD sent to another composer friend of mine here in L.A.
He just wrote to me telling me of his great joy in watching this competition and agreed that it was the best Van Cliburn competition he had seen. As usual the pianists were brilliant and the Rach 2nd and the Prokoviev 3rd were performed by many (as they are in most piano competitions)but Nobu added something very special to this competition. I would highly recommend it!!!
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Great documentary! The star of the piece and the competition is definitely Nobuyuki Tsujii. The music is beautiful and while you don't get to hear all the pieces in their entirety, which may be on purpose on part of The Cliburn Assoc.; they want you to buy the videos and cds which I strongly recommend, it's meant to show the hard work dedication and discipline that these young talented musicians must endure to get to this level. Bravos to them all for keeping this beautiful music alive and bravo to the documentary for bringing us their inspiring stories. I actually knew very little about The Van Cliburn Competition before this documentary and will certainly be following it in 4 years to see if there are more surprises.
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Format: DVD
If you enjoy piano music you will love this DVD. It showcases the events of the 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. You see the dedication, hard work and intense moments that make this competition a world-wide phenomenon. I have to admit,I was slightly disappointed that the anchor had trouble pronouncing well-known composers names correctly and I would have enjoyed more piano music and less "reality TV" moments. Overall, this is a compelling, moving DVD that anyone who plays piano will appreciate or those who simply enjoy piano music will delight in.
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Format: DVD
After scanning the other reviews posted here before me I must admit I'm in the minority. I've never seen the previous 12 competitions, and I had not read the results of this 13th competition before watching this DVD, another in the fine series of releases from the German company Euroarts which is imported in the US by NAXOS. Secondly, I am not a musician (sorry no coordination) but a lover of all styles of good music and a huge fan of well-done documentaries.

That said, I enjoyed this package (the film and the bonus musical performances) very much. Going in, I had no idea what the title meant and, though there is booklet with liner notes packed inside, I purposely did not read it beforehand. (And I suggest that future purchasers do the same.). I've been writing about documentaries based on competitions lately (cooking, harpists, among others). The arc of the story is usually to introduce all the contestants and then follow through as some are eliminated. You then can feel the passion and excitement as well as the anxiety of the competitors. If anything let me down with Peter Rosen's film it is that equal weight was not given to the stories of the finalists - and even the winners. I wanted to know more about Mr. Zhang from China and understand the background of the pianist from Bulgaria, whose idiosyncrasy is that he carries his own bench to competitions, and maybe more about the others too. The booklet fills us in a bit on the top three winners but that's it. It's a minor gripe but the reason for four stars instead of five. Some of the emotion that could have occurred with editing just didn't happen for me.

But, for anyone interested in classical piano music and the next generation of artists, this is a great source.
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