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 In the intervening years it has become also an affectionately remembered historical document with a good deal of associated nostalgia.