The Magics of Music + Castelfranco Veneto Recital (2015)

The Magics of Music + Castelfranco Veneto Recital (2015)  

Two films by Christopher Nupen with pianist Daniil Trifonov
Studio: Allegro Films A19CND  (9/25/15) [Distr. by Naxos]
Video: 1.78:1 for 16×9 color
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Language: English with subtitles in French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish
All regions
Length: 103 min. total
Rating: ****

The DVD being reviewed consists of two marvelous films by Christopher Nupen documenting the life and a slice of performances by Russian prodigy Daniil Trifonov, a musical savant who has clearly become one of the finest pianists of our generation.

Trifonov was noticed at the age of five as he began composing mature works of music. He has won several international prizes as a pianist. Now, age 24, Trifonov is performing in concerts all over the world, and has become a YouTube sensation as well.

The first film on the DVD is called The Magics (sic) of Music. It is a profile of the artist, with archival performances and a series of recent interviews. The interviews are insightful, and Nupen crafts a portrait that really opens up our view of the artist and his thoughts. We hear Trifonov play as well as talk, and the performances are stunning. Nupen has the talent to give us a very moving portrait. It is not filled with the usual cliches of film biographies, and with the power of editing, camera composition and sound we get a powerful look at Trifonov, not a thin veneer.

The second film, The Castelfranco Venoto Recital is less compelling to me, but still excellent. We hear a bit more dialogue from Trifonov, and some of the same statements from the first film. I think I would have preferred the straight concert pieces, unadorned by the breaks for comments. The second film features Chopin’s Etude in F major; Scriabin’s Etude No. 5 in C sharp minor, Rachmaninov’s Variation of a Theme of Chopin, Opus 22 and J. Strauss’ Overture to Die Fledermaus, arranged by Trifonov.

Trifonov is a major talent. His playing is thrilling, and these two films, especially the first, are dynamic and the kind of disc you will want to share with friends or family. I think young musicians will be particularly inspired.

Sadly, the disc is a standard DVD so the video, while good, is not top notch. Likewise the audio could have been better with the higher resolution Blu-ray is capable of. Since the films are new, released in 2015, it’s surprising there is only the DVD available, good as it is.

—Mel Martin

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