Georges Cziffra - Plays Chopin Liszt & Franck (2004) [DVD5 PAL]
# Actors: Georges Cziffra, Benno Moiseiwitsch
# Format: Black & White, Classical, Color, DVD, 4:3, PAL
# Language: English, French, Spanish
# Region: All Regions
# Number of discs: 1
# Studio: EMI Classics
# DVD Release Date: February 10, 2004
# Run Time: 77 minutes
* Chopin "Heroic" Polonaise, Scherzo, Impromptu
* Liszt Transcendental Etude 10, Hungarian Rhapsody 6, Gnomereigen, Valse-impromptu, Grand galop chromatique
* Franck Variations Symphoniques
* Benno Moiseiwitsch plays Wagner Tannhauser Overture
* Authoritative essay and archive photographs
GEORGES (Gyorgy) CZIFFRA is remembered as the flame-throwing,tightrope-walking virtuoso par excellence. But there was another side to Cziffra's volatile temperament witnessed here in this 1965 INA archive film of a 'live'performance of Franck's Symphonic Variations. An affectionate smile from a 22 year old Gyorgy Cziffra Jr.to his father, seated at a Pleyel grand piano, heralds a beautifully reflective and poetic account of Franck's tenderly questioning score. Seeming at times to be deeply communing with himself, Cziffra, in the penultimate variation and with eyes closed, ruminates, as if in a dreamlike trance, pianissimo piano figuration against the cello theme, casting a magic spell over his adoring audience. In contrast, riveting archive film from a recital Cziffra gave in the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in 1961 demonstrates Cziffra at the height of his tremendous powers. Delivering the A flat Polonaise Op.53 of Chopin with virile masculine strength and exuberance its rapid left-hand octaves are enveloped in what can only be described as a white-heat haze of vibrating reflexes. The semiquaver roulades that lead back to the main theme are genuinely improvisatory and it is this quality that impresses in the studio film (Bernard Gavoty's Les Grands Interpretes of 1963) of Cziffra's lyrically rippling playing of Chopin's B flat minor Scherzo and Impromptu in G flat. In Liszt's Sixth Hungarian Rhapsody from the 1961 recital, Cziffra abandons himself totally to his inner fire and recreative forces. He adds improvisatory cimbalom effects to the cadenza passages and tears up the keyboard for the final octave onslaught. In the 'Appassionta' Etude in F minor, Cziffra takes a slower tempo than usual, but plays with such yearning, soaring passion, its coda so frenetic that one expects pianist and piano to spontaneously combust. Needless to say, the audience roars its approval while Cziffra admits exhaustion. Cziffra's studio account of Liszt's Valse Impromptu is full of old fashioned caprice and charm the added final glissando style arpeggios a delight while his astounding playing of Gnomenreigen and Grand Galop Chromatique demonstrates that Cziffra remains a 20th century keyboard phenomenon.
The substantial bonus here is Moiseiwitsch's magnificent 1954 BBC studio account of Liszt's impossible transcription of Wagner's Tannhauser Overture. He plays with his usual full-toned grandeur, and if the final torrent of double octaves that envelop the 'pilgrims theme' aren't the equal of Jorge Bolet's 1974 Carnegie Hall or Cziffra's EMI account, the effect is still breathtaking. Presentation, booklet notes and rare photographs of the artists are superb. This DVD has been awarded the Prix de l'Academie Charles Cros.
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