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CLASSICAL  September 2005

CLASSICAL September 2005

Subject:

Lisitsa plays Schwanengesang

From:

"Nicholas J. Yasillo" <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 20 Sep 2005 10:35:02 -0500

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Although I've never been a fan of serious music on video (the usual
"choppy" video cuts can be extremely distracting).  This DVD may change
my opinion!

Pianist, Valentina Lisitsa has just released a DVD of a performance of
the Liszt arrangement of Schubert's last 14 songs: Schwanengesang.  This
is Ms. Lisitsa's second DVD following her exciting release of her recital
of 24 Chopin Etudes from Op. 10 & 12 last year.

Ms. Lisitsa's performance is simply amazing!  She makes the technical
difficulties of playing these works look effortless and has captured,
and even amplified the mood of each song superbly.  Most impressive is
the way she can get right to the core of each individual work.  She has
clearly given much thought to how each song should be interpreted and
has done a wonderful job of putting her own stamp on each one.  Additionally,
if you are like me and don't appreciate pianists who suffer from the
"Lang-Lang syndrome", you will rejoice in Ms. Lisitsa's straightforward,
elegant technique.

Unless they have no soul, anyone who watches and listens to this recording
will immediately feel the somberness and foreboding in "Die Stadt" and
"Kriegers Ahnung" and the eerie nightmare atmosphere of "Der Doppelganger",
as well as the beautiful flow and clear melodies of "Abschied" and
"Standchen".  Ms Lisitsa's handling of the canon-like second repeat in
"Standchen" is nothing short of miraculous.  She succeeds in playing the
multiple melody lines and accompaniment in a way that sounds like it is
a "piano-four-hands" performance.  I could go on and on, but my main
point is that she has really succeeded in capturing the subtleties of
each song so clearly

The DVD sound is excellent with the clarity, timbre and bass power of
Ms. Lisitsa's reconditioned 1925 (ex Wigmore Hall) Bosendorfer captured
realistically.  Extensive program notes are provided (written by Ms.
Lisitsa and Stephanie Cook).  Although they are detailed and helpful,
they are printed in very small type.  I actually had to use a powerful
magnifying glass to read them.

Pianist Alexei Kuznetsoff, someone who clearly understands this music,
did production, direction and editing.  I was certainly not expecting
such a dramatic visual concept.  The strong initial mood of the DVD is
set with Ms. Lisitsa walking into the room carrying a single candle
and then proceeding to light a candelabra.  Only a few camera angles
are used and the feeling is that of attending a live, but very private,
event.  Editing is sparse but always complements the music.  The viewer
also has the option of English or German subtitles (or none at all) which
are appropriately sized and do not interfere with viewing Ms. Lisitsa's
flying fingers.  The dramatic, "high-key" lighting also really fits the
music.  The video ends with a single candle being extinguished -- a
fitting dramatic touch signifying the end of Schubert's last compositions.

Highly recommended and available from amazon.com or directly from her
production company, "valaldirect" through her website:
http://www.valentinalisitsa.com/

Nick Yasillo
Norton Building Concert Series
http://home.earthlink.net/~nconcerts/

Nicholas J. Yasillo
[log in to unmask]

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