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4.7 out of 5 stars20
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 20 February 2014
Musical philistine!

The Director (Mathew Woodward) of the Valentina Lisitsa DVD released by Decca is clearly more interested in demonstrating his camera teams' expertise than in sympathising with the music and its playing by this very fine artist. Thus we are subjected to views of the player from all the angles his cameras were positioned at, including those from the back of the auditorium from the high level zooming one that hangs over the audience, all very clever Mr Woodward, but without any relevance to the music being played, just there to "impress" those raised on the "Top of the Pops" ethos, who think that tricky camera work/editing is as important as the music/performance itself - well, you clever dicks, it isn't! It's distracting and irritating, as bad as unending background music in films, silly and pointless.
People like you ought to know something about classical music before being allowed to record it, i.e., it doesn't need this sort of insensitive pop-technique to celebrate it, rather it needs someone who knows how best to show off the performer and his/her artistry, such as where and when to show the hands, reveal the most telling facial expression, show the enraptured audience, and so on. Anything less than this doesn't qualify you to be a director of such events - and incidentally, it doesn't say very much for the artistic taste of those who employed you!
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on 14 September 2012
I had the great good fortune to be at the Albert Hall and to hear this fabulous pianist amd her equally fabulous Bosendorfer grand, from only a few feet away.
Now this DVD gives you pretty much the same unmissable experience.
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Wonderful pianist, wonderful playing, however the swooping camera effects are awful and over-used. The lurid lighting in the Hall did not help either. Throughout the whole video we seem to spend our time flying between the furthest reaches of the Albert Hall and Valentina's fingers on the keyboard. After a while I could not watch this anymore and just listened to the sound as it was making me feel seasick. Because of the camera effects I may not play this disc again, which is a great shame.
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Valentina Lisitsa, time and time again, achieves an extraordinary beauty of line whilst still having all the technique to rise to the technical challenges of the program while still maintaining that beauty of line. In my opinion this is the key feature that makes her playing style special. Instead I will try to explain what I feel are key considerations when describing her approach to the piano and to the music she plays.

Throughout her playing the fingerwork remains fluid with an almost limpid wrist action under all pressure. This gives her playing a liquidity that is very marked. The more dramatic moments retain this approach and all sense of barnstorming, percussiveness or even glitter is avoided. Instead what we hear is a sensation of joy with bouncing rhythm emphasising a strong dance element. Significantly her instrument of choice is the more rounded tonal palette of the Bosendorfer piano instead of the more powerful Steinway so beloved of the majority of performers and venues. This works very well with her total approach.

The recital is delivered with minimal interruption for applause and composers merge seamlessly into each other. The opening Mozart Fantasia leads straight into 3 pieces by Liszt followed by Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. The fast last movement of this is lightly played but with consummate technique. The 5 Rachmaninov pieces are played with the sort of inner feeling that only Russians seem to have for this music. The final prelude in g minor is fleet and exhilarating.

The 4 Scriabin items are played with a sensitivity that I found to be unusually illuminating and these flow seamlessly into a set of 3 Chopin Nocturnes making a natural and clear link apparent between the two composers. The recital concludes with a powerful and highly evocative performance of Liszt's Totentanz, his Ave Maria arrangement and finally an effortlessly joyful account of his La Campanella.

Throughout the audience attends spellbound with minimal breaks for applause which Valentina sits through patiently with bowed head and without turning to face her audience. The impression is that of a quiet and shy person so different to so many other performers. Only at the very end does she face them and then she shows real and relaxed pleasure.

There is one bonus in the form of a totally engaging opening speech followed by a performance of Liszt's 12th Hungarian Rhapsody which she describes as a sort of overture to the start of the real concert.

Decca have provided a recording which for me establishes a new benchmark with an extraordinarily clear and full range of colour imaging coupled with remarkably truthful piano sound presented in DTD 5.1 and stereo.

This is both an outstanding and a unique experience as a disc and as such, in my opinion, defies normal points of comparison and still demands a full 5 star rating. Valentina Lisitsa and Decca have produced a real winner here!

........................................

Some dialogue from the comments section that may offer further help:

Thank you for your excellent review. I hope she will bring out many more CDs so I can listen on a high-end hi-fi instead of my reasonably good computer speakers on YouTube (on which of course she is a prolific performer). By the way John Springer, I think she is in a different league to Lang Lang and even equals Horowitz in some of her interpretations. I will buy this DVD immediately and hope my speakers do it justice.

...........................................

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on 11 April 2016
The intensity of Valentina's concentration shows how much her playing and the composition become one
It is not surprising that she is the most downloaded pianist on You Tube.
I am sure she didnt have to be reminded of the value of learning her scales
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on 18 January 2016
Almost unbelievable virtuosity and interpretation. Most of us are unlikely to see or hear anything to equal this lady's immense skill and talent in our lifetimes.
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on 29 February 2016
This is an excellent dvd. Valentina Lisitsa's playing is phenominal. This is the nearest I shall get to being at one of her concerts.
A dvd to treasure.
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on 23 September 2015
Outstanding, this dvd brings you into the Royal Albert Hall, Her Wonderful musicality and the tonal beauty of the Bosendorfer piano, this recording is special.
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on 14 April 2014
Wery good pianist, nice concert from Albert Hall, tehnical perfections and her fingers are so fast that is hard to follow
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on 2 December 2012
I don't know how I've missed her for so long. She is superb - fabulous virtuosity and wonderful musicality. And, unlike some of the present day superstars, what matters is the music. At the end of a piece, she usually sits quietly waiting to begin the next, rather than jumping to her feet and parading around with an expression that says "Aren't I wonderful?". There is not much of her available on cd, though a bit more can be found as mp3 downloads. There's a lot more on Youtube, both of her music and about her, which is really worth seeing. The dvd recital is wonderful, and I envy those who were present. I hope that more of her will be issued on cd - I shall certainly keep looking.
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