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Daniel Barenboim - Fifty years on stage: Jubilee concert in Buenos Aires and Documentary Multiple Identities
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Sonata in C major K330
Sonata in C major K545 - andante
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Sonata in F minor Appassionata
Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860-1909)

Iberia Books I and II
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)

Sonata in D minor K9
Alberto GINASTERA (1916-1983)

Danza de la moza donosa (Danzas argentinas No.2)
José RESTA

Bailecito
Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959)

O Polichinelo (A Prole do Bebê, Book I)
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Moment Musical in F minor D780 No.3
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)

Waltz in E minor Op. posth.
Nocturne in D flat major Op.27 No.2
Waltz in D flat major Op.64 No.1
Etude in F Minor Op.25 No.2
Moriz ROSENTHAL (1862-1946)

Papillons (Mariposas)
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

Des Abends (Fantasiestücke Op.12)
Aufschwung (Fantasiestücke Op.12)
Daniel Barenboim (piano)
Recorded live at the Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires, 19th August 2000
Documentary; Multiple Identities
Produced and directed by Paul Smaczny
Picture format 16:9, Sound formats DD 5.1, DTS 5.1 PCM Stereo (concert) DD 2.0 (Documentary); Region Code 0 (Worldwide); Subtitles GB, D, F; Format 9 (concert) 5 (Documentary)
EUROARTS DVD 2050429 [140’ concert + 90’documentary]

 

Both narrative and concert performance, this two DVD set seeks to encapsulate Barenboim’s humanity and many sidedness. In that, the documentary ‘Multiple Identities’ explicitly delineates the trio of self confessed identities – Argentinean, Jewish, Musician. It’s doubly perverse in the light of Barenboim’s commitment to various causes that a timeserving Israeli politician is interviewed sneeringly questioning whether Barenboim is not, after all, one third Argentinean, one third Jew and one third German. The question strikes at the heart of Barenboim’s even handed relationship with Wagner and with his orchestra in Berlin. In elevating the equivalence of Barenboim as a German - he plays Wagner, he lived in Berlin, therefore he is a German - we reach some of the more tangible politicised dimensions that run through the documentary.

Fortunately the documentary is not really contentious in this way; it is actually part travelogue. We follow him to Buenos Aires and to the streets where he grew up, to the Staatskapelle, to rehearsals with Cecilia Bartoli and Waltrud Meier (old friends) and to Chicago for Mahler 7. We hear about his apparently - to others - chaotic rehearsal conditions - which invariably work - and from his admirers and colleagues. There’s a fine interview with the languid but clear sighted Dale Clevenger of the Chicago, as well as the orchestra’s perspicacious manager, Henry Fogel. We see Barenboim, cigar chomping, talking with Boulez whose aphorism that we must burn memory like the Phoenix is one of the most thought-provoking of all. We see his inner sanctum – convivial cooking sessions, chats with his family - though frustratingly, perhaps for reasons of privacy, not everyone is captioned. There’s more cigar smoking as he mutely plays backgammon with Zubin Mehta but here and elsewhere one can find oneself impatient. Too many multiple identities maybe and not enough musical focus. Too many arty shots of Chicagoan skyscrapers, too much pavement travelogue, maybe. It’s certainly more geographical than chronological – those looking for a shilling life won’t find it here. Still we do get the infamous Israel Tristan – amateur shots from the audience of the fractious rabbinic arguments when he and the German orchestra dared to offer it as an encore. The late Edward Said’s contribution – which one can read in greater detail in the book of the Barenboim-Said conversations Parallels and Paradoxes; Explorations in Music and Society – is seen in the context of the pan-national (and racial) orchestra Barenboim regularly conducts. Throughout the social, political and humanistic are in indivisible harmony and commitment. Barenboim’s fruitful selves serve, whether one agrees or sympathises or not, as soil- digging practicalities enriching the mind and body. Even pianists can use trowels.

And it’s as a pianist that we see him in the concert from the Teatro Colón; a Jubilee Concert of his fifty years on stage, as he says, and not a birthday one. A look at the programme will disclose the identities; the young wunderkind who once performed with Furtwängler, the Argentinean who still loves the Tango, the poetic spirit behind the chomp and the bustle and the backgammon. Though one tends to find him denigrated as a pianist and thought of more and more as a conductor he remains in excellent condition. Slips are minor and if the titanic Appassionata doesn’t quite convince, his Mozart is warm and alive, the South Americans are full of colour and verve, the Schumann affectionate. The shots are conventional; multiple camera angles over both sides of the keyboard, left and right, and also a front-on shot.

Old enough to have played with the Great Conductors but young enough to be our contemporary Barenboim deserves this salute, imperfect though it sometimes is.

Jonathan Woolf



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