This recital was filmed in the Fryderyk Chopin University in Warsaw in
December 2011. Ewa Podleś and Garrick Ohlsson formed a formidable
partnership and performed and recorded together quite often. She, Warsaw
born, and he - the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition winner in the
same city - have been captured in this film with straight-forward fidelity.
The DVD is easy to navigate and the camera angles are clean, and unshowy,
and not given to inventiveness - that's to say, no superimposition of
images, or artful fades, or shots of the ceiling, or statues of Polish
luminaries half a mile down the road. I'd best characterise the camera
direction as utilitarian, but without a prejudicial implication.
These clean angles and pretty good picture clarity allow the viewer to
concentrate on the matter in hand without distractions. Ohlsson is on first,
dispatching Prokofiev's Four Pieces, Op.4 with considerable virtuosic
intensity. Throughout the recital he plays without a scrap of music but
whilst some singers might have blanched Podleś remains supremely confident.
It helps that he is a very watchful, listening accompanist, often waiting
for her or anticipating her breaths with closely focused concentration, eyes
on her for longer and more often than most other pianists would dare. She
wears a sparkly black dress for the Mussorgsky and has a battery of
expressive gestures to accompany the journey of the Songs and Dances of
Death. She is a very visual performer, and one really gets the sense of her
operatic power and intensity in Trepak
in particular. Each song is
captioned. Ohlsson then plays two Rachmaninov Preludes - well, the
two. Maybe he could have included a less well-known one.
Podleś returns for Mussorgsky's The Nursery
, having swapped her
black 'dress of death' for a red 'dress of life' - or perhaps that's me
being fanciful. Hands clasped together she's now in pleading, yielding mood,
pointing, scolding, prayerful at bedtime and also quite funny too. She even
mimes riding on the stick horse in the penultimate song. The audience wants
an encore of course, so Podleś and Ohlsson perform two Rachmaninov songs -
She is as Beautiful as Noon
, and Everything Passes
The booklet documentation is helpful and in English and Polish.
This is an enjoyable hour-long recital. Both musicians are splendid
interpreters and their ensemble is excellent throughout.