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Complete Piano Sonatas Nos 1-32 [Blu-ray]
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Détails sur le produit
Descriptions du produit
Daniel Barenboim, der siebenfache GRAMMY© Award-Gewinner, dem zuletzt ein ECHO Klassik für sein Lebenswerk verliehen wurde, nahm sich zusammen mit Jean-Pierre Ponnelle 1983-84 das Neue Testament der Musik vor Beethoven s Klaviersonatenzyklus. Über einen Zeitraum von 25 Jahren komponiert, sind die Klaviersonaten alles andere als eine homogene Werkgruppe. Es bedarf eines Pianisten mit außergewöhnlichen Fähigkeiten um den in Beethovens Klaviersonaten angelegten Übergang von der Klassik zur Romantik erfolgreich zu vermitteln. Daniel Barenboim ist ein solcher Ausnahme-Musiker. Sein Klavier-Repertoire umfasst Werke von so unterschiedlichen Komponisten wie Bach, Mozart, Bruckner und Bartók. Die außergewöhnliche Interpretation in der Tradition von Meisten wie Artur Schnabel zeugt davon, dass Daniel Barenboim zu Recht zu den größten lebenden Musikern unserer Zeit gezählt wird.
Das vorliegende Programm wurde für Blu-ray Disc vom historischen Bild- und Tonmaterial in HD Qualität auf höchstem Niveau abgetastet, Bild und Ton wurden aufwändig restauriert.
Daniel Barenboim spielt Beethoven: sämtliche 32 Klaviersonaten
Aufgenommen auf 35mm Film im Palais Lobkowitz, Palais Rasumowsky, Palais Kinsky und Schloss Hetzendorf, Wien, 1983-84
Bonus: Interview mit Daniel Barenboim, Wien 2012, zur Produktion und den Aufnahmen der Beethoven Zyklus.
Ein Filmprojekt von Jean-Pierre Ponnelle Kamera: Ennio Guarnieri (A.I.C.), Xaver Schwarzenberger, Ernst Wild
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The filming is unadventurous. Edits are conservative, there are lots of long shots, and not many showing Barenboim's dazzling finger-work. There is much attention to the surroundings; the buildings are merely the setting for the music, however, and shouldn't be more than that. There are some very long static shots, which are very different from today's MTV-influenced videos.
This leads me back to the original question: what does one expect from a film like this? It's got great music - more than 11 hours of it -, an excellent performer, and is a visual record of that performer in his element. But he's really in a studio - albeit a grandiose one - without the spontaneity of the stage, and in many ways it's similar to a film of someone in a recording studio. No one will watch 11+ hours of Beethoven, or even the 200 minutes or more on each disc (Blu-Ray), in a single sitting. Unlike CDs, which have the convenient length of about an hour, optical discs require more of a time commitment. You can dip into them at any point to hear a favorite sonata but then you will end up not hearing them all.
Technically, this is another of EuroArts' Recorded Excellence releases, where the company has scanned old 35mm footage to bring it to today's audiences. The restoration is as good as possible. Compared to something filmed in HD today, it's lacking; there's grain and blur, lighting issues and color saturation problems, but they don't distract from the performances. The images are judiciously cropped from 4:3 to 16:9, and you don't really notice the difference. (I have the Blu-Ray version of this set; it is also available on DVD.)
In the end, if you're a fan of Beethoven's piano sonatas, and especially of Daniel Barenboim's performances, you'll want to own this, as there aren't many complete sets on film. I prefer the live recitals because they are more spontaneous, and because each one is a programmatic selection of three or four sonatas, rather than them being in number order. If you're not familiar with Barenboim's recordings of Beethoven's piano sonatas, I strongly recommend you give these a listen - on film or CD. This is a fine document of one of the best performers of Beethoven on piano. In a field with a lot of competition, I find his recordings to be among my favorites. Maybe you will too.
These performances were recorded in ca. 1984 on 35mm film then much later transferred to BD format, with some recordings presenting better than others as he moves from room to room in notable Vienna palaces/living spaces, changing the available light and acoustics with each passing piece. The sound quality and image quality are commensurate with a 35mm film process: if you are expecting surround DTS-HD and 4000+ pixel digital images at high frame rates from a Red Epic or an ARRI Alexa, you're probably going to be disappointed. These videos are very good 35mm quality overall, except perhaps the Appassionata in F minor, no. 23, which suffers from low-light shallow depth-of-field focus issues. The sound is in stereo format, not 5.1 or 7.1, etc.
In terms of the performance itself, Barenboim has an amazingly disarming command of these compositions, once you realize that all 32 sonatas are performed from memory: over 12 hours of music that requires three BD disks of 4 hours each. His interpretations are simultaneously intriguing but also conservative (not overt), accurate to the period but not a slave to accuracy, expressive of his own musical interpretations while maintaining a faithfulness to the original compositional style achieving an overall performance credibility. Barenboim is not a "yet another Beethoven performer", but rather one having his own voice. I was amazed to hear his straightforward interpretations without obvious modern embellishment, but played on a modern Steinway D-274 with its corresponding majestic tonality, dynamics, and commanding presence, as opposed to the forte-piano of Beethoven's period--which is a great distraction when used to play these pieces. One wonders what Beethoven could have composed beyond these pieces if he had a modern grand piano and good hearing.
It is also important to note that all the Beethoven sonatas are performed here in compositional sequence such that the listener witnesses the composer's maturation with each passing sonata. This is nowhere more dramatic than the composer's miraculous mixture of compositional emotiveness and power starting around the Pathétique sonata no. 8 after a largely classical early writing period.
The performances here represent a five-star rating despite the noted limitations of the period's recording medium, a factor that is not taken lightly by this reviewer. Watching each passing performance itself becomes almost hypnotic, drawing in and holding the viewer's attention in ways not able to be experienced before this BD release.
Daniel Barenboim memorized the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas when he was only 17 years of age, and has performed them for half a century. During that time he has recorded at least four complete cycles:
(1) His first recording for Westminster is excerpted in the 3-LP set "Prodigy and Genius: Barenboim and Beethoven." One copy is currently available on eBay.
(2) At the age of 24 he signed a contract with EMI to record his second cycle (1966/69), and it appeared on quality vinyl in a 1970 boxed set, used copies of which can still be found by those who seek to do so. Earlier this year, EMI re-released the cycle on CD, in a significantly better mastering than the previous 1998 CD release.
(3) Metropolitan Video produced and Jean-Pierre Ponnelle directed a third cycle in various acoustically excellent and photogenic settings from 1981 to 1984, and DGG released the soundtrack on audio cassette, "digital LP" and CD (the cover photograph shows Barenboim in the same venue as the video). The whole thing appeared in a series of ten PAL laserdiscs in the UK, and two of the sonatas from this series (Appassionata and Waldstein) appeared on Teldec Warner laserdisc in the US and Japan. Now Euroarts is releasing this series in a triple blu-ray set.
(4) Barenboim performed a complete cycle in a series of concerts at the Staatsoper in Berlin in June and July of 2005. EMI released the DVD and Decca the CD of these performances. The DVD is accompanied by masterclasses, but the sonatas are a little hard to locate because the concerts did not present them in numerical order.
Barenboim's first two cycles were prodigious, and the last one is impressive, but the third captures him at the peak of his powers. The third one now comes to us in a high-resolution audio and video transfer. Like Euroarts/Metropolitan's release of the eight last Mozart piano concertos, the complete Beethoven sonata cycle promises better sound than ever before, but compromised video quality. I gave five stars to the Mozart because the BD had better sonics than the very fine laserdisc release, and that is likely to be true again in this case. However, I objected to the "masking" of the image, in effect zooming in on the old film stock to fill the 16:9 TV screen. Unfortunately, the producers have done this again, creating jumpy motion for fingers playing on the keys. What is to be done? Use the zoom feature on your player to zoom back out again, creating a black frame all the way around the image. Then the jerky motion disappears.
Like the earlier release, there is very generous timing again. Some 724 minutes (twelve hours) of programming which spread out over ten laserdiscs now finds itself inhabiting just three blu-rays. In addition to the sonatas (714 minutes), there is a ten-minute bio called "Portrait eines Musikers" (Portrait of a Musician), which also appeared on the first of the ten laserdiscs.
In recent years I have become a fan of the fortepiano recordings of Beethoven's sonatas, particularly the SACD set by Ronald Brautigam on BIS. Barenboim's blu-ray set, recorded on the grand piano, will complement that series nicely on my shelf. I reserve the right to revise or extend my remarks upon further enjoyment of this embarrassment of riches.
P.S. (8 December 2012):
My copy of the set finally arrived only today. Amazon seems to have run out of copies before the pre-orders were filled. That is a worrying precedent. I was gratified to discover that, although the film has been matted for widescreen TVs, there happens be very little fast-action finger-work on screen. Director Ponnelle lingers over the walls and furnishings a lot, and frequently focuses on Barenboim's face or a general shot of the whole grand piano. Consequently, there is hardly any motion-blurring.
(Update: The new 2014 re-issue of the Metropolitan Munich DVD set, previously issued as separate discs in 2013, now includes the important bonus film/interview from 2012 in which Barenboim explains in detail the concepts lying behind this entire presentation. This bonus film was previously only available on the present Blu-ray set. The new re-issued DVD set therefore offers significantly more material on fewer discs and at a lower cost. It is therefore much better value than before and a closer match to the current Blu-ray set reviewed here).
The set is notable for the considerable input of Barenboim's views and intentions as regards the presentation of the music. This is fully explored in the bonus film as follows: In the interview Barenboim describes how he was approached to record these sonatas as a non-profit making venture by the film maker. This project was undertaken as a result of Barenboim being able to choose his musical director - someone whom he could trust to convey the STRUCTURE of the developing musical ideas visually but specifically NOT BY CONCENTRATING ON FINGER WORK.
Given that the recording was to take place in various palace rooms and that the finger work was not to be the main focus, the main filming emphasis would be to concentrate on the rooms, the objects in the rooms, camera angles and perspectives combined with the use of lighting effects to attempt to show the changes in structure and emotional temperature as they developed.
Technically the presentation was limited by the nature of film whereby the fast `ISO' speeds available to modern digital cameras was simply not available. Thus fast finger-work in the lighting circumstances of the venues would be beyond the technical capabilities of the film stock available at that time (1980-1983). This is evident when the fingers become a blur of movement. Furthermore, the only ways available to minimise this problem, would be to focus on the general view of the pianist playing as if a member of the audience, or to focus in tight with next to no depth of field - hence one hand at a time being markedly out of focus. Some historical perspective is required to understand this technical situation as well as an understanding of Barenboim's intent.
In summary, the restoration of this film stock has been meticulously done and has achieved results that are close to remarkable. Both image and sound are very consistent given the use of four separate palace locations in Vienna with differing acoustics and lighting. The imaging is clear and well lit whenever there is sufficient ambient light which is most of the time. The sound is well focussed with good depth of sound-stage and gives realistic definition. In short, this set delivers a good reproduction of piano sound and is certainly capable of giving sonic satisfaction comparable with good CDs of the same period, the early 1980s. It is certainly not a cause for concern especially given its historical situation.
The music and its delivery: An over-view.
A big bonus with this set is being able to listen to the series chronologically. This is a considerable difference to the way some other sets have been compiled on CD for example.
This enables the listener to easily follow the broad developments occurring during the three recognised periods in Beethoven's life and even to detect far more subtle changes almost movement by movement. In particular there is the extraordinary development of emotional thought within the slow movements which become increasingly more complex in structure as Barenboim wanted to show visually via the film. At the same time there is an increasing breakdown and replacement of the 18th century model of the piano sonata as Haydn would have known it.
Beethoven's writing is generally agreed to fall into three periods. The first period being considered `decorative' and following the 18th century model ending with sonata 11; the last period having highly complex structures, emotionally demanding and introspective commencing with sonata 27; the middle period sonatas of 12-26 being the transitional period. The series allows us to follow this development very easily and Barenboim adjusts his playing to enable this to be followed clearly. As such this is a considerable achievement.
The slow movement of the ground-breaking 4th sonata is a clear move away from the Haydn model with the sonata's 30 minute total duration making this Beethoven's longest sonata until the far later Hammerklavier. Barenboim's performance gives it due gravitas without quite leaving the Classical period in which it is rooted. The seventh sonata brings further emphasis on emotional density of thought as evidenced by the extensive slow largo movement stretching to a full eleven minutes.
Other structural changes rapidly develop as we approach and progress through Beethoven's middle period. This is evidenced in the concluding scherzo of the tenth sonata, the opening slow movements of sonatas 12-14, the biting scherzo of sonata 12 which also includes a sombre funeral march later played at Beethoven's own funeral and the three-sectioned opening movement of the sonata 13 (andante-allegro-andante). Some sonatas have three movements and some have four.
Sonatas 20 and 21 are now thought to have been written in 1796 which places them alongside the earliest sonatas. This does not seem surprising given their obvious lack of complexity. There is a steady increase of dramatic tension and dynamic extremes throughout this middle period clearly apparent in sonatas 16, 17, 21 and 23 especially but not exclusively. The final set of six sonatas from sonata 27 onwards further develop complex counterpoint, variation form and harmonic relationships and together constitute Beethoven's final period.
These combined are all important structural changes which finally break the mould of the 18th century piano sonata.
Barenboim keeps all of these in context with his lighter and fleeter approach in this set compared to his Berlin set whilst still exploring the greater structural depths as they develop. It is generally agreed that Beethoven bids his farewell to the Classical period with the eleventh sonata.
Barenboim's finger-work is aurally very crisp and the style is noticeably more lyrical than in his later set and his use of the pedal is gentler without the accompanying thuds, to be heard in Berlin. The dynamic range of his touch is widened as the series progresses with the gentler moments becoming almost whisper-like and with the bigger moments becoming more powerfully delivered. In general terms the over-riding emphasis throughout this series is upon clarity and incisiveness of touch to achieve dramatic effect rather than weight and this is entirely appropriate to the Classical and early Romantic periods.
The filmed interpretation that Barenboim was seeking in order to draw out the structure can be illustrated, for example, by the prolonged view of the pianist seen at a distance through the space of the raised piano lid in sonata 14 for example. No finger-work, as the view imperceptibly closes in throughout the first movement of the sonata emphasising the calm simplicity of the movement. The first movement of sonata 8 receives much the same treatment. Sonata 9 is filmed in a windowless room which imparts a warmer colour palette. Sonata 12's funeral march is set in appropriately subdued conditions revealed at very slow speed with an extended view of one dark area of the room to match. Brighter movements are naturally set in brighter conditions. Sonata 16 is also initially filmed in very subdued lighting with highlights, rather like a painting of a Dutch indoor scene. As the sonata progresses so the lighting broadens and increases.
Sonatas 19 and 20 are filmed in a bare room with white and unadorned rooms and with bight lighting. This simplicity reflects the simplicity of these earlier works as they are now perceived. The later Waldstein sonata (21), on the other hand, is set in a highly ornamented room of considerable complexity. To emphasise the contrast of content in the middle movement, the room is plunged into virtual darkness with streaks of highlighting similar to high contrasted paintings of Dutch interiors. The last movement brings a return to lighting as the mood lifts.
The final series of sonatas is filmed in a large room dominated by substantial marble pillars and monumental in character. The area is kept brightly lit. Barenboim is able to unravel and clarify the complexities of these final sonatas remarkably well and the visual analogy seems appropriate given the intention and the available facilities.
These limited observations are offered as examples of the director's attempts to match the structures of the music visually as requested by Barenboim.
This entire series is a fine effort. Barenboim was at his performing peak and he had a musical director who attempted to convey something other than finger-work or facial expressions as Barenboim required. The recording was at the best level possible at the time and has been enhanced to the best level available today. It deserves our gratitude rather than our criticism.
One detail worth mentioning is the erroneous statement before every single sonata that it was dedicated to Haydn. This is not the case and is clearly an unfortunate editing slip. Only the first three sonatas of opus 2 were, in fact, actually dedicated to Haydn.
In conclusion, I would suggest that these discs constitute a very major series which justifies the time, effort and cost of the work involved. Purchasers need to show a little understanding of the technical constraints associated with archive film and the presentational concepts attempted by Barenboim and the director.
Given those considerations, I would suggest that this set deserves serious consideration from anyone contemplating the purchase of a complete set of the sonatas. It certainly offers a very different filming concept and set of interpretations compared to Barenboim's later Berlin set recorded at a series of `live' concerts and presented out of chronological order. That delivers a far weightier set of interpretations.
This earlier set will, for many, be the more rewarding set of the two both in terms of period performing style and for other musical and pianistic considerations. It is an important archive document that remains as relevant today as it was when it was recorded but with the added advantage of having received a fine restoration which has made the most of the recorded material.
And what incredible music this is - particularly Sonata No. 4. If you are a Beethoven lover, this disc is worth owning just for this performance of this piece. It is captivating. The liner notes are sparse, although they do mention that the color and sound quality of the original source material has been cleaned up using various methods, including the Steinberg company's Nuedo system. And while it is not modern digital quality, it sounds really really good.
This video is excellent. Highly recommended.