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Piano Grand: A Smithsonian Celebration

Piano Grand: A Smithsonian Celebration  - DVD

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Piano Grand: A Smithsonian Celebration  - Dave performing Dave performing "Dziekuje"
Piano Grand: A Smithsonian Celebration  - DVD back cover DVD back cover

Label: Smithsonian Institution
Year: 2000
Released on LP: No
Released on CD: No


Thank you (Dziekuje)


Dave Brubeck (piano)


This performance (there are 12 more artists) beside Dave Brubeck, is given in celebration of the 300th Anniversary of the piano by the Smithsonian Institution and Maryland Public TV Channel. A CD of this program is also available.


All Music Guide CD - Review copyright

This PBS special covers a wide range of music. Emcee Billy Joel performs two of his big hits, "Piano Man" and "Baby Grand," and also composed the classical piece "Fantasy (Film Noir)," which is played by Hyung-Ki Joo. Jerry Lee Lewis' "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and "Great Balls of Fire" come up lame. The Smithsonian Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Kenneth Slowick, accompanies Jean-Yves Thibaudet for one movement of Grieg's "Piano Concerto in A Minor" and Robert Levin for the third movement of Beethoven's "Emperor Concerto." Katia & Marielle Labeque romp through Leonard Bernstein's "America" and explore two excerpts from Ravel's "Mother Goose Suite," the delicate "Empress of the Pagodas and the intially solemn "Enchanted Garden," which evolves into a showstopping finale, during which the sisters share one piano. Brazilian pianist Eliane Elias' "The Time Is Now suffers from an excessive focus on her two percussionists.

Marcus Roberts' medley of early jazz classics is rather brief, very likely leaving the audience wanting more. Toshiko Akiyoshi's choice of the maudlin "It Was a Very Good Year" seems surprising until she reshapes it with a furious arrangement. Singer/pianist Diana Krall's trio is joined by the orchestra for a pleasant take of "Let's Fall in Love." Cyrus Chestnut's "Baroque Impressions" incorporates elements of post-bop in a thoroughly swinging exhibition. But veteran pianist Dave Brubeck eclipses everyone with his dramatic tribute to Chopin, "Thank You Dziekuje," which was actually taped during the final dress rehearsal.

Eight young student pianists are featured on four pianos playing "Country Gardens," a perennial piece familiar to all. The incomplete closer is "Heart and Soul," featuring the youngsters with most of the stars on multiple pianos. Most of the camera work throughout this DVD is excellent, though there are puzzling shots focusing away from the action and the edits are too fast at times. Overall, the visuals, excellent sound, and strong performances make this DVD highly recommended.

Ken Dryden

Copyright Rovi Corporation

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