Notes & Reviews:
Five decades after his first appearance on stage, the legendary Barenboim plays a special anniversary concert in the Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires. This memorable evening is a touching encounter between the pianist and an enthusiastic audience in his home country. Also included is a documentary which follows Barenboim around the world as he celebratest his career.
"Jubilee Concert in Buenos Aires": On the afternoon of 19 August 1950, a young boy in short trousers climbed the steps to the stage of the Sala Beyer in Buenos Aires to make his piano début. 50 years later, Daniel Barenboim returned "to the scene of the crime" to give an ecstatically received recital at Teatro Colón which will go down in history as one of the musical events of the 21st century. Documentary "Multiples Identities" - Encounters with Daniel Barenboim: This film tracks the pianist-conductor Daniel Barenboim from summer 1999 through Berlin, Chicago, Tel Aviv and Weimar up to this stage anniversary in Buenos Aires, in summer 2000, and ends up with his controversial performance of "prelude and Liebestod" from Wagner's Tristan and Isolde un Jerusalem in summer 2001. It is a film about music, about music making and a celebration of a remarkable personality. " A transatlantic superstar, one half of the classical music world's most golden ever couple, and long-time leader of two of the world's foremost orchestras, Daniel Barenboim nevertheless maintains a work schedule that takes him all over the world. Both a pianist and conductor, he says simply, 'I like to work and I like variety.'" BBC"
MusicWeb International - Kirk McElhearn
A reissue of a DVD first released in 2004, this set was first reviewed on MusicWeb International in March 2005. I didn't read Jonathan Woolf's review before writing my own; there are no apparent differences between the two versions, other than the cover. It features Daniel Barenboim as pianist in a jubilee concert held in Buenos Aires in 2000 to celebrate his fifty years of performing. It also offers a 90-minute documentary about his life. Altogether, this two-disc set features nearly four hours of content.
First the concert. Barenboim plays an eclectic range of music, from Mozart and Beethoven, to Schumann and Chopin, by way of a number of other composers. Some of them have only brief appearances - a single Scarlatti sonata, for example, takes about 3 minutes; a piece by Villa-Lobos is less than 2 minutes; and there's only one 3-minute work by Schubert. This is essentially a long series of encore pieces.
Barenboim comes on stage in an attractive theatre, the Teatro Col=n, and, after some brief applause, starts playing Mozart's Sonata in C major K330. Interestingly, there are groups of people sitting on the stage on either side of the piano; about fifty people on each side. The filming is as expected from this type of concert: efficient and unobtrusive, though it is certainly less innovative than Barenboim's set of Beethoven recitals in Berlin recorded in 2005 - not as yet reviewed on MusicWeb International. There is a wide variety of shots, from close-ups of Barenboim's hands as he plays to long shots including him, the piano, and the spectators. There are even views from up in the cheap seats. It seems as though there were a dozen cameras filming the concert.
The sound is quite good, with the two surround-sound mixes giving realistic acoustics, though the piano sounds a bit harsh at times. Overall, Barenboim's performances are as interesting as usual; he is a fine pianist, a master of his craft, and he plays, here, a selection of his favorite music. His Appassionata is powerful and emotional; Barenboim's attachment to Beethoven is long and deep, and he performs this work with great energy. His AlbTniz is subtle and lyrical, and his Scarlatti attractive. The series of shorter pieces shows the breadth of his musical interests and skills. The concert lasts two hours and twenty minutes, and, from the film, it seems that a good time was had by all.
The second disc is a ninety-minute documentary. In some ways, this is more interesting than the concert. You see Barenboim as he returns to his childhood haunts in Buenos Aires, then later in Tel Aviv, where he moved when he was ten. You see him working with orchestras in Cleveland and Berlin, and with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, a youth orchestra make up essentially of musicians from different countries in the Middle East. You see how Barenboim has tried to cross borders and use music to bring about change. Notable in this documentary is amateur footage of Barenboim having the Berlin Staatskapelle perform a bit of Wagner in Israel in 2001, and the discussions that this involved with the audience. Above all, you see that Barenboim is one of those men for whom music is everything.
This set gives a wonderful overview of Barenboim as musician and human being. While the concert is perhaps not the most exciting some of the performances, notably the Mozart and Beethoven, are excellent. The documentary gives you a glimpse into Barenboim's activities beyond his pianistic endeavours. All in all, these are two enjoyable programs.
Run Time: 230 min.
Picture Format: NTSC, Letterbox, Color
Sound Format(s): DD 5.1 Surround, LPCM Stereo, DTS 5.1 Surround, Digitally Processed
Country of Origin: USA