Daniel Barenboim plays Mozart, Beethoven & Albéniz

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven,Mozart
LABELS: EuroArts
WORKS: Mozart: Keyboard Sonata in C, K330; Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 23 (Appassionata); Albéniz: Iberia I & II Plus: Multiple Identities – a film by Paul Smaczny
PERFORMER: Daniel Barenboim (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 2050427

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These two absorbing DVDs pay tribute to Daniel Barenboim’s extraordinary talents both as a musician and a communicator. First on the menus is a sympathetically filmed piano recital given at the Teatro Colón Buenos Aires in August 2000, exactly 50 years after the eight-year old Barenboim’s first appearance on the concert stage. The programme – Mozart and Beethoven sonatas followed by the first two books from Albéniz’s Iberia – may not break new ground, but it reveals Barenboim at the height of his powers, bringing fresh insights to familiar works. 

There’s certainly no chocolate-box gentility to his Mozart C major Sonata, K330, the outer movements of which are delivered with full-blooded tone and variety of colour. Even more striking is the middle section of the slow movement where Barenboim almost spontaneously lingers on a dissonant chord and thereby manages to make the whole passage sound far more poignant than is often the case. The Beethoven Appassionata is no less impressive.

Barenboim traces an emotionally turbulent narrative in the first movement with rich orchestral colours, and holds back the raging torrent of the Finale until the coda so as to make the work’s conclusion all the more overwhelming. After this, the Albéniz offers him opportunities to revel in the brilliance of the writing and some haunting moments of reflection. Little wonder that the audience applauds so enthusiastically, cajoling Barenboim to give a staggering 13 encores.

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The documentary Multiple Identities offers insights into Barenboim’s work in several different geographical centres (Buenos Aires, Berlin, Chicago, Weimar and Israel) and engaged in an almost bewildering variety of musical activities. Though the commentary is sometimes rather hagiographical, Barenboim’s nostalgic return to Argentina and the deliberately provocative conducting of Wagner in Jerusalem provide gripping footage. Erik Levi