Notes and Editorial Reviews
Filmed at Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Suffolk, UK, July 2000, Alfred Brendel, one of the leading musicians of our time, gives a once-in-a-lifetime access into his private world.
Includes complete performances of: Haydn Piano Sonata in E flat major, Hob. XVI/49 Mozart Piano Sonata in C minor K. 457 Schubert Impromptu No. 3 in G flat, D. 899. Plus an inspiring 30-minute conversation at the piano, in which Sir Simon Rattle and Alfred Brendel discuss Beethoven’s Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 3.
Extra feature: Alfred Brendel reads his own witty and subversive poetry.
R E V I E W S:
A fascinating portrait-cum-concert
The main element in this double-disc tribute is the
70-minute portrait, 'Man and Mask', directed for television by Mark Kidel. This takes the great pianist to many of the haunts of his early life, as well as showing him relaxing at home in Hampstead. As he wrily observes at the very start, he had none of the assets usually needed for a great musical career: he was not a child prodigy, he was not Jewish, he was not Eastern European, his parents were unmusical and he is not a good sightreader. One of his earliest musical memories is of playing records of Jan Kiepura in operetta on a wind-up gramophone to entertain the guests at the hotel which his father managed. Later in Zagreb, where Alfred spent his years growing up between the ages of five and 13, his father was the manager of a cinema. That took him in other directions than music, towards painting among other things. The friend he gave his early paintings to, asking him to destroy them, in fact kept them, bringing a nice scoop for the film. 'I think them terrible,' says Brendel, seeing them again. His first recital came in Graz in 1948, and received glowing notices, when he concentrated on works with fugues, including the Brahms Handel Variations and a sonata of his own which boasted a double-fugue at the end. In Vienna he recalls making his first recording for Vox, a coupling of Balakirev's lslamey, Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and Stravinsky's Petrushka suite. Later, on the day after his debut at Queen Elizabeth Hall, he had offers of recording contracts from three major companies. All this is amplified by clips from archive performances and a separate half-hour conversation with Sir Simon Rattle in rehearsal for Beethoven's Piano Concertos Nos 2 and 4, offering fascinating revelations from both pianist and conductor. Brendel's own poems (in English as part of the film, in German on a supplementary track) strike a rather grim note of humour, while on the second disc comes a recital recorded at The Maltings, Snape, crowning this revealing issue with masterly performances of three of Brendel's favourite works.
-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone [11/2001]
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