Sergei Rachmaninov: Corelli Variations, Op. 42 (with introduction)
Vladimir Askenazy, piano
Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days.
This DVD contains one of Christopher Nupen’s famously intimate portraits of leading performers plus a montage of excerpts from his composer films with Ashkenazy as conductor where one sees a very different Ashkenazy from the notably undemonstrative pianist.
The DVD also contains a characteristically modest interview with Ashkenazy on the nature and origins of musical talent and a deeply felt performance of Rachmaninov’s last work for the piano, the Corelli Variations, preceded by an extended introduction and analysis by Ashkenazy that is a model of its kind.
Ashkenazy started high by winning the Queen Elizabeth of the Belgians Prize at the age of 18 and later the Tchaikovsky competition but that was only the start, his career has continued to rise steadily from then until now. He is probably the most frequently recorded pianist in history with a discography that runs to 56 pages and he has also become an international conductor of the highest rank.
In the first film on the DVD, Ashkenazy’s boyish charm and the winning good looks of his Icelandic wife gave the film a very appealing quality from its first appearance. In the intervening years it has become also an affectionately remembered historical document with a good deal of associated nostalgia.
“It's reassuring to watch the first film, about the youngish Ashkenazy in 1968, and to realise that not much has changed… The playing is compelling in a Beethoven Bagatelle in concert and a rehearsal of the four-hand Rite of Spring with the young Barenboim... The central sequence is an all too short montage of Ashkenazy the conductor. Yet Nupen's decision to film Ashkenazy both talking about and performing Rachmaninov's Corelli Variations was wise; it has always been one of the pianists more deeply felt interpretations...”
“Each of the four sections of this DVD is prefaced by one of the director's idiosyncratic chats to us viewers explaining the background to what we are about to see. Though these introductions are nothing if not self-regarding, Nupen has, to be fair, every right to be pleased with his achievements. He is a director in whose cultured and reassuring company musicians feel secure and relaxed. The results are films of depth and real insight – and already of some historical importance. For instance, in the first one on the present volume, The Vital Juices Are Russian, we meet the young Ashkenazy in 1968 in the throes of moving his wife and small children from London to Iceland while fulfilling a hectic schedule of concerts – as a pianist, of course. The conducting phase of his career is celebrated in the brief second section, a nine-minute montage of four orchestral movements taken from various other Nupen/Ashkenazy films. More substantial is the previously unpublished film of Ashkenazy's lengthy, thought-provoking introduction to Rachmaninov's Corelli Variations, followed by a live performance of the work in Lugano. The DVD ends with the customary Allegro Films makeweight compilation of 33 short extracts from its catalogue.”
“…Nupen… is a director in whose cultured and reassuring company musicians feel secure and relaxed. The results are films of depth and real insight - and already of some historical importance.”