£16 post free World-wide

 


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


 


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

Search
What's New
Previous CDs
Concerts
Jazz
Nostalgia
Composers
Resources
Announce
Labels index


Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Some items
to consider


BRAHMS Complete Edition
58CD £95.22


Shostakovich 14 Petrenko


Rachmaninov #3
Prokofiev #2

 


Dunedin Consort

Peter Grimes

Hymn of Jesus: Sea Drift

Complete Mozart Edition
Mozart complete edition

Vaughan Williams Symphonies 5 & 8 £11

Weiner, Klepper, Bloch, Schulhoff £12 post free


Available again

DVD REVIEW



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
CDAccord
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter
 

CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Competitors - Russia’s Child Prodigies
A Film by Irene Langemann

with Irina Chistyakova, Nikita Mndoyants, Dmitry Krutogolovy and Elena Kolesnichenko
NTSC: 16:9, Sound; PCM Stereo – Dolby Digital 5.1; Languages; English, German, French, Russian; Region Code: 0
EUROARTS 2057418 [98:00]

Experience Classicsonline

The cover blurb of this DVD instils a sense of incipient tension. One can even imagine the cinematic voice-over artist, gruff, guttural, theatrically ponderous in his delivery, as he says: ‘Ten years ago they were Stars; now they are Competitors’. The title seems, indeed, on reflection, to collude in the very humiliation to which some of these musicians are subjected during the course of the documentary film. The relish with which the combative is set up and asserted, the glee with which it is heralded on the cover, strikes me as not simply misplaced, but in some ways cruel.

Doubtless Irene Langemann would retort, as with the ‘Isherwood’ character in his Berlin stories, that she is just a camera, recording. Maybe. But it strikes a wrong note, one to which I draw attention at such length because I found one scene in the film distressing, and the remembrance of that scene – where one of the four musicians weeps after a humiliation at a Vienna piano competition – still sticks in my mind’s eye.

The film follows the lives and careers of four young pianists, of varying ages, all of whom were filmed a decade back in a similar film about prodigies, the 2000 documentary ‘Russia’s Wonder Children’. This has a socio-educational feel, analogous to BBC documentaries along similar though less specific lines, in which children are ‘followed’ from their early years to maturity, over five or ten year periods.

The film opens well; each musician plays in shadowy light, the same piece. All four pronounce themselves disgusted by their playing. The grins are genuine, the self-criticism quick and instinctive. There are a number of themes; finding a manager or agent; competitions; engagements; composing one’s own pieces; the balance of the sexes when it comes to concert pianists; the decision to marry and have children; the necessity to teach; the constant pressure of such a life; the hope that their careers will prove lasting and fulfilling.

All agree that competitiveness at the Moscow Conservatoire was inbuilt, pervasive and intense. And we watch them as they criss-cross Europe in search of competitions, big and small, at which to parade their wares. To win a competition, as we know, or at least spectacularly not to win a competition, ensures column inches of publicity, and that means eager managers. Irina Chistyakova is eventually voted off a smaller competition but her potential is spotted by a conductor who condemns the result vociferously. He’s only identified later as Enrique Batiz, and he invites her to Mexico to perform with his orchestra, a performance which we see. The serendipitous nature of this contact reinforces one’s view of competitions as a mixture of blind date and blood sport.

It is Elena Kolesnichenko whose visit to the Beethoven Competition in Vienna leads to such anguish. She feels she has never played better but is eliminated in the first round. It is ‘a racket’. Back in Hanover, where they live, her husband tries to console her as she weeps, and the camera lingers. Strangely, and soon, letters arrive from disgruntled jury members claiming they had voted for her, and that she was voted off so early because she was seen as too strong a competitor. The implication is clear. A judges’ favourite must win. It’s hardly a novelty in the competition circuit, but when one sees the human consequences, it condenses this objectionable practice.

The pervasive feelings that one draws from this film are the arbitrary nature of ‘success’, and the treadmill that leads young musicians toward it or ever further from it; the difficulties of life as a soloist with family commitments; the corrosive nature, but also the pleasures of, teaching; the crudeness of managers and agents in their milk-round of young talent. I must say, despite the successes that are duly welcomed, the film left me pretty pessimistic. And, in any case, if that’s what happens to young pianists, what chance old bald guys in their forties?

Jonathan Woolf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools






Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.