The pleasurable sensuousness of ‘Eros Piano’

Eros Piano, a work by John Adams, is such a delightful piece. If I were a concert pianist it would be part of my repertory for sure! 🙂 YouTube offers only one performance of Eros Piano, the one here above, played by pianist Jay Gottlieb with L’Ensemble Orchestral de Paris conducted by John Nelson.

Composer John Adams wrote the work – almost a small piano concerto in one movement – in memory of two of his composer heroes, Morton Feldman and Toru Takemitsu. About the music Adams wrote that it’s “a quiet, dreamy soliloquy for piano, played against a soft, lush fabric of orchestral screens and clusters. It was a direct response on my part to a piece by Toru Takemitsu, riverrun, that I had heard in a performance by the English pianist Paul Crossley. (..) I wrote Eros Piano as a tribute to Takemitsu, to Bill Evans, and also to Paul Crossley, whose exquisitly balanced sense of color and attack in music by Debussy, Ravel, Messiaen and Takemitsu reminded me so strongly of that of Bill Evans.”

Pianist Jay Gottlieb with L’Ensemble Orchestral de Paris conducted by John Nelson deliver an enjoyable and admirable performance, but is that enough? Do they reveal the work’s sophisticated soul? I think I’ve heard better in another performance, a well known one, played by pianist Paul Crossley with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s/The London Sinfonietta, conducted by composer John Adams himself and available on the album American Elegies (1991). In my opinion Crossley, Adams and the London Sinfonietta are more convincing in revealing the work’s pleasurable sensuousness and this comes across in many wonderful tonal colours and in their highly sophisticated outline of the work’s dynamics.


Royal Albert Hall-concert op 19 juni 2012 van Decca-artieste Valentina Lisitsa live op YouTube

Valentina Lisitsa / photo by Gilbert François

Valentina‘s muzikale wordingsgeschiedenis is volstrekt uniek. Haar concert voor een 5200-koppig publiek in de Royal Albert Hall op 19 juni a.s. wordt live gestreamd via YouTube en een week later al uitgebracht.

promotiefilmpje voor het Royal Albert Hall-concert op 19 juni 2012

Vanaf het moment dat ik enkele jaren geleden met Valentina kennismaakte – zie mijn bijdragen op YouTube en op mijn weblog – heb ik geen moment getwijfeld dat haar ster naar de hoogste platforms zou reiken. Het wonderlijke is wel, voor ieder die haar muzikale verrichtingen goed heeft gevolgd, dat de gang naar het grote succes nog zo lang op zich liet wachten, maar ach, over een paar jaar heeft niemand het daar nog over. 🙂

een door mij gemaakte Valentina Lisitsa promo-video van voorjaar 2010


Piano sensation Valentina Lisitsa highlighted in dutch national press

(click on picture to enlarge)
An article on Friday 20 January 2012 about virtuoso classical pianist and YouTube-sensation Valentina Lisitsa in dutch national newspaper De Volkskrant. Valentina plays in The Netherlands, on Sunday 22 january 2012 in Delft and on Friday 27 January 2012 in Haarlem. The article in De Volkskrant shows that more and more big media finally begin to recognise what I (see my videos of Valentina on the web) and so many people on YouTube have known for years already… the unique stature and greatness of Valentina! 🙂


Valentina Lisitsa’s new release: Chopin-recital (CD+DVD)

Ordered at Amazon a few days ago and now already playing here in Amsterdam: Valentina’s Chopin-recital (released on 28 November 2011).
Great! 🙂


From SD to HD: facelift for a Valentina Lisitsa promo video

My video Valentina Lisitsa: a somehow impossible combination of Backhaus and Argerich, published in March 2010 – and having more than 47.000 views on 13 November 2011, when this message was published – deserved a remake, a promotion from SD to HD.
Here’s the ‘makeover’, published on YouTube on 12 November 2011. Play the clip in 1080p to see the best result in High Definition.


Valentina Lisitsa plays in Delft and Haarlem (The Netherlands) in January 2012

Good news for classical piano fans in The Netherlands. Valentina Lisitsa will play at least two recitals on dutch soil in January 2012:
on 22 January in Delft in theatre De Veste and on 27 January in the Philharmonie in Haarlem.

Valentina Lisitsa in London, April 2009 (photo by Pieter de Rooij)

Valentina Lisitsa in London, April 2009 (photo by Pieter de Rooij)


Experiment: adapting Murnau’s ‘domestic’ Faust to Timothy Brock’s ‘export version’-score

I’ve finished a very interesting experiment concerning the cinematic masterpiece Faust by German director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau. In eight videos on my YouTubechannel, all embedded below here in this post, the so-called ‘domestic version’ of the film is shown in a slightly different way than usual. For a good reason. The videos show the result of an incredible amount of editing from my part, the result of an experiment to find a way to combine the ‘domestic cut’ of Murnau’s Faust with a brilliant score, written by Timothy Brock for another version of this film, the so-called ‘export version’.

The Faust-cut for which Timothy Brock wrote his score, the ‘export version’.

Now, let me show you what I’ve done and explain a little bit further how and why I did this.

An adjusted domestic Faust with Timothy Brock’s score, my edit, Part 1

F.W. Murnau’s masterpiece-film Faust was released in 1926 and there are seven known versions of the film. The most well known version is the so-called ‘export version’ with english titles, that premiered in december 1926 in the USA. The duration of the export-version is 115 minutes and 30 seconds, while the newly discovered ‘domestic version’ a couple of years ago lasts 106 minutes, the domestic version being the original ‘German print’, the one with German titles that was shown at the time in German cinema theatres.

An adjusted domestic Faust with Timothy Brock’s score, my edit, Part 2

The export print is darker and softer, lacking the detail and clarity of the domestic version. Incidentally, the differences between the export and the domestic version are considerable. There’s no difference in terms of the overall structure of scenes and storyline, but the pacing and lengths of scenes often vary greatly and there are often striking differences in the order and in the composition of shots, the domestic version certainly being the superior of the two.

An adjusted domestic Faust with Timothy Brock’s score, my edit, Part 3

Timothy Brock’s orchestral score, written for the Faust-export version is a masterpiece, a fantastic accomplishment, perfectly keeping with the operatic and epic nature of the film. The way Brock uses operatic- and leitmotif-storytelling and storydeveloping techniques in his music for the export version of the film is absolutely stunning. But, as soon as Brock’s score is played with the domestic version, picture and sound are almost evrywhere out of sync, that is, numerous details and leitmotifs of the score then miss the point, lose their ‘iconic’ meaning and strength and simply can’t work as they do so perfectly in the export version.

An adjusted domestic Faust with Timothy Brock’s score, my edit, Part 4

Isn’t it possible then to combine Brock’s music with the greatly cut and very clear print of the domestic version? The answer is ‘no’ when you play the music along with the domestic film in its original speed. The answer is ‘yes’ (that is, in my opinion) if you manage to adjust the speed of numerous sequences of the domestic film. Only when countless sequences are ‘manipulated’ in terms of duration the music is able to work once more on the pictures (and vice versa) as it does in the export version.

An adjusted domestic Faust with Timothy Brock’s score, my edit, Part 5

Now, I took it as a challenge to try to make Brock’s music work as well in the domestic cut version of Faust and with this aim in mind I’ve edited the complete domestic Faust.* I think the result of my editing is quite interesting and after the changes I made in the duration of countless sequences – a time consuming job that requires precision and a lot of patience – I personally think this brilliant music now also works very well for the complete domestic version.

An adjusted domestic Faust with Timothy Brock’s score, my edit, Part 6

For me the result has been quite spectacular. I’ve tried to keep the duration manipulation of sequences within reasonable measures, in order to maintain as much as possible the natural look, tempo and feel of the domestic Faust version.

An adjusted domestic Faust with Timothy Brock’s score, my edit, Part 7

I use all of Brock’s score and all of Murnau’s film, there’s no material left out by me. Enough said, hope you’ll find this ‘experiment’ as fascinating as I do and I hope you’ll enjoy these videos.

An adjusted domestic Faust with Timothy Brock’s score, my edit, Part 8

* If one might argue there’s already published a 2dvd set of Murnau’s Faust that plays both the export version and the domestic version with Timothy Brock’s score, I’d like to remind one then once more that Brock wrote his score (in 1995) for the ‘export version’, a perfect fit. If, however, the (later discovered) domestic version is played with Brock’s score on that dvd edition – an excellent release btw, the best you can get of Murnau’s Faust – evrything is totally ‘out of sync’ almost all the time, from seconds to even halve minutes. So, the option given with that dvd-edition to play Brock’s score with the domestic version was useless, didn’t pay off in any way. Seeing the wrong outcome of Brock’s score with the domestic version on that dvd-edition made me wonder and think about an alternative and that’s how I must have come up with the idea for an experiment, the result of which can be seen in the eight edited domestic Faust-videos in this post.

** An important question to be asked and probably raised immediately by film experts and critics: does the film still look like Murnau’s Faust after my experiment? A valid question of course. Personally I think it still looks like Murnau’s film in evry way, despite the fact that I affected the original ‘domestic version’ by manipulating the duration of shots and scenes. Anyhow, my ‘adjusting’ method was inevitable to make Brock’s score work for the domestic cut.


Valentina Lisitsa plays Rachmaninoff #1 in Duisburg & Köln in December 2010

Some stunning playing in this blog by Valentina Lisitsa. Two recordings of the cadenza in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #1: first a solotake filmed by me, then another take of this cadenza – filmed by Val’s husband Alexei Kuznetsoff and at that point with the LSO around 🙂 Both takes filmed at Abbey Road Studios, London, September 2009.
In December 2010 Valentina plays the Rachmaninoff piano concerto #1 twice in Germany with the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln conducted by Jukka-Pekka Saraste: in Duisburg on 9 December and in Köln on 10 December.

An exquisite solotake – filmed by me – of the cadenza in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No.1

And another exquisite take – filmed by Alexei, and now ’rounded’ by the LSO at start and finish 🙂 – of the cadenza in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No.1