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Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
A Night with Friedrich Gulda
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
Piano Sonata No. 12 in F Major, K. 332: II. Adagio;
Fantasia in D Minor, K. 397
Piano Sonata No. 18 in D Major, K. 576;
Piano Sonata No. 6 in D Major, K. 284: I. Allegro;
Friedrich Gulda (piano)
Barbara DENNERLEIN
Drive Sam
Take Off
Give It Up
Techno Music
Friedrich Gulda (piano: Mozart; synthesizer: Dennerlein, techno)
Paradise Trio (Dennerlein)
DJ Vertigo (electronics: techno)
Paradise Girls (techno)
rec. Concert from the Münchner Klaviersommer 1995.
Picture format: NTSC - 4:3; Sound format: PCM Stereo;
Region code: 0
ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD 101674 [85:00]

Friedrich Gulda (1930-2000) was born in Vienna and is regarded as one of the cross-over pioneers of his time. Following an established career in classical music he turned his attention to the world of jazz and electronic music. I suppose the nearest modern-day equivalent we have is Nigel Kennedy. Gulda clearly had no musical boundaries and that is to be applauded. There is no written musical law that if you enjoy Tippett you shouldn’t really listen to Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens). The problem, however, is that the target audience for this DVD has to be like-minded. A concert that includes Mozart sonatas and music more suited to a disco and a jazz club is a strange affair indeed. Who would buy such a concoction? Certainly many of those buying the DVD will be staunch Gulda fans. As a memory of a unique musician at work I suppose what we have here is an undoubted success. For anyone else maybe one viewing is enough. I found it tough going. The cause isn’t helped by the lack of English subtitles. If you don’t happen to understand German you are left high and dry. Gulda talks to his audience in what appears to be a warm informal manner. His flowery shirt and white trainers are certainly informal. It’s such a shame that English-only speakers don’t know what he is saying.

The first 30 minutes of the concert is devoted to Mozart and it is patently obvious that Gulda was a superb pianist, of that there can be no doubt. His approach to Mozart will not appeal to everybody. At times he makes the music sound like Bach with its clear-cut, immaculate passage work and precise - almost mechanical - ornamentation. The playing is dry and clean but rather aggressive. It lacks a romantic singing tone and the style is hard-driven and no-nonsense in its approach. It’s refreshing in its own way and I’m glad to have heard it but to describe it as beautiful would be misleading.

We then hear three pieces from the Paradise Trio. Following on from the creative genius of Mozart is a pretty difficult proposition and unfortunately the music presented here is thin on ideas and the pieces - each around ten minutes long - all outstay their welcome. There’s not enough content to sustain such a length. The combination of electronic organ, drum-kit and sax soon becomes repetitive and irritating. The actual playing is very good indeed but nothing catches the ear or catches this ear at any rate. It all sounds so dated. It’s the sort of thing you would hear as background music on an American detective series - long sax solos that go nowhere, sleazy sound-bites on the organ. Maybe a jazz lover should also review this DVD to give the other side of the story, if there is one. For me this Paradise Trio set wasn’t my idea of paradise by any stretch of the imagination. The audience, however, seemed to love it so each to their own. Finally, it’s disco time with dancers appearing on stage and Gulda playing a synthesiser. Even the audience joins in. What on earth is this 22 minutes all about? I really don’t know what to say.

John Whitmore