American pianist Murray Perahia began his recording career in earnest in the 1980s when he tackled Mozart's complete piano concertos. He had established his reputation much earlier, however, studying as a teenager with Rudolf Serkin and Pablo Casals, and going on to work with Benjamin Britten at the Aldeburgh Festival before becoming its co-artistic director. His repertoire has ranged widely, from the Baroque period -- a crucial interpretation of Bach's Goldberg Variations -- to Romantic composers like Chopin. Mozart and Schubert also form cornerstones of his discography. Since 1990, when he suffered first a severely infected thumb and then a bone abnormality in his hand, Perahia has been forced to take occasional leaves of absence from the stage and the studio, although he has dedicated his downtime to the detailed study of musical scores.
Murray Perahia Concert Films
Live in Warsaw
Runtime: 1 hr 29 minCritics put him on a par with Brendel, Gould or Rubinstein. As a young musician he partnered living legends like Rudolf Serkin, Pablo Casals and Benjamin Britten. Vladimir Horowitz was a teacher and a friend. Today Murray Perahia is a legend in his own right. He numbers among the most sought-after pianists of our time, both on the concert platform and in the recording studio. And all this despite the fact that his career has been repeatedly interrupted by the after-effects of an injury to his right hand. This film gives viewers a rare opportunity to look behind the scenes and observe a world-class pianist at work.
The camera observes him as he works slowly and thoroughly on some of Chopin’s mazurkas, his E major scherzo and Schumann’s ‘Kinderszenen’ (‘Scenes from Childhood’). The settings include his summer retreat in Switzerland, his terraced house in the West End of London and a private concert for friends.
Perahia spends weeks and months exploring the ways in which the various parts of a given work combine to form a whole. Like a skilled psychoanalyst, he uncovers one layer of meaning after another in his single-minded endeavour to fathom the importance of each individual note for the ultimate realisation of a musical masterpiece. ‘As soon as I start working on something, it is with me all the time. I live with the piece – no matter whether I am eating, sleeping, reading a book or talking to my wife – it becomes a part of me.’
Finally, the long-awaited concert in Warsaw. Murray Perahia sits down at the piano and begins to
play. The performance transcends all the theory and analysis that have gone into its preparation. The playing itself is the expression of the pianist’s profound insights, resulting in a truly miraculous rendering. After the concert, members of the audience describe it as ‘out of this world. ’
Not this World
Runtime: 52 minIn February 1977, Murray Perahia made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker with Mozart’s C minor piano concerto, conducted by Riccardo Muti. “A first-class soloist was introduced to us, with fantastic musicianship and a highly sensitive touch,” as the press wrote. Many wonderful performances with the Berliner Philharmoniker were to follow. And so it was only logical that the orchestra invited him, as Pianist in Residence, to give a series of joint concerts this current season. In this documentary by Holger Preusse and Claus Wischmann, you can now get to know this exceptional artist better.
Perahia’s now legendary status means that he is often regarded as someone who is somewhat removed from normal life – which corresponds to the title of the documentary “Not of this world”. But it is only Perahia’s playing, with its otherworldly beauty, that seems to be beyond all earthly limitations. As this film shows, the artist engages in all facets of life as well as his work. In interviews on tour and in his Swiss vacation home, he talks about the works in his repertoire, and how he develops his interpretations. We experience him as an inspirational teacher, at work in the recording studio and, of course, at rehearsals and in concert. Perahia also discusses the injury to his hand, which has repeatedly forced to stop playing for periods of time – a terrible experience for a pianist. But Perahia has even come to terms with this difficult situation and has reached some surprising insights: “What seemed like a curse actually turned into a blessing, because it gave me a lot of time to think about music and to listen to it more. And so I felt I was actually growing as a musician, even though I was not playing.”
Murray Perahia Top Tracks
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.5
Runtime: 44 minIn November 2007, Daniel Barenboim completed a cycle of Beethoven's piano concertos. Recorded live at the prestigious Klavier-Festival Ruhr in May 2007, this DVD recording reflects both a very individual and special reading of Beethoven’s music and the artist’s life-long dedication to the composer. Daniel Barenboim is one of the most prolific and high-profile artists performing on international stages today and Beethoven’s masterpieces have been a key part of his repertoire throughout his career, both as conductor and as pianist. Beethoven himself was a keyboard virtuoso of almost awesome abilities who created a sensation wherever he played. It is no wonder, therefore, that the piano was central to Beethoven’s overall output. Daniel Barenboim, artistic personality and former wunderkind, long an essential part of the international musical scene both on the conductor’s podium and at the piano, is the perfect match for this demanding music.
The Russian Journey
Runtime: 56 minThe date is May 2nd, 1957. Stalin died only four years before and perestroika is still a long way off. However, the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould, who is just 24, arrives in Moscow for an exceptional tour: he is the first North American musician to play behind the iron curtain. This is the story that Glenn Gould in Russia tells by revealing documents from the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs that had remained classified for years. Witness accounts from musicians such as Ashkenazy and Rostropovitch, parts of the original recordings of Gould’s concerts in Moscow and Leningrad, as well as a recording that had never been released before of his lecture-recital in Leningrad make this an invaluable documentary revealing an aspect of Glenn Gould’s artistry that few people are aware of.