Classical Meets Jazz (2009/2011)

by | Apr 27, 2011 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Classical Meets Jazz  (2009/2011)

Jazz interpretation of MUSSORGSKY’s Pictures at an Exhibition on two pianos
Pianists: Eyran Katsenelenbogen and Andrei Ivanovitch
Studio: Eyran Records
Video: Picture-framed widescreen in 4:3 center area
Audio: PCM stereo
Extras: 2 solo encores: Flight of the Bumblebee, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
Length: 48 minutes
Rating: ***

This is a video of a two-piano premiere in Boston’s famed Jordan Hall in May of 2009. The two pianists are Boston-based Katsenelenbogen and Ivanovitch – from St. Petersburg, Russia. All 13 movements of Mussorgsky’s classic piece are played in sequence but each one is either played straight and then improvised on as jazz or else done once in a semi-jazz improvisation. The style is something like Jacque Loussier’s PlayBach, but not as swinging.  Often one pianist will play a movement in a fine straight classical performance, and then be followed by the other pianist on the second piano in a jazz-inspired version of that selection.  Some of the jazz versions are quite exciting and compellling though. The big finale of “The Great Gate of Kiev” naturally gets the full two-piano treatment, with plenty of impressive loud chords and rapid running up and down the keyboards. The jazzed-up "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" encore is a gas.

There are problems with the tech side of the DVD. Rather than being full widescreen 16:9 ratio the widescreen image is inside a picture-frame setup with sizeable borders all around.  Switching to Full on my Samsung display got the image to fill the entire 16:9 screen, but it seemed to be cropped off a bit on all four sides.  In addition, the image has an extremely orange-red cast, and the few shots looking down on the pianists and on the audience are from a camera putting out low-def images that are squished horizontally.

 — John Sunier

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