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Nobuyuki Tsujii: Live at Carnegie Hall Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: MPEG-2
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: PCM 2.0 Stereo; DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0
  • Subtitles: None
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: EuroArts
  • Blu-ray Release Date: September 25, 2012
  • List Price: $39.99

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)


The Performance

[Rating:4.5/5]

When a famous violinist was asked, do you know how to get to Carnegie Hall, his oft-quoted response was simply: “Yes, practice, practice.” Obviously, young Japanese pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii heeded such advice.  A co-winner of the 2009 Van Cliburn competition, Tsujii elicited this response from Mr. Cliburn himself: “You feel God’s presence in the room when he plays. His soul is so pure, his music is so wonderful and it goes to infinity, to the highest heaven.” Extreme praise from one of the piano legends of this or any other time!  Tsuji was 23 at the time of this 2011 Carnegie Hall recital and what makes this story even more astounding is that he was blind from birth.  Given the complexity of the piano literature, and particularly the pieces chosen for this program, I was continually amazed at this pianist’s sheer virtuosity and near-note perfect delivery.  Besides two monsters of the piano repertory, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and Beethoven’s “Tempest” Sonata, we are treated to a knuckle-busting Improvisation and Fugue by American John Musto, a Chopin Prelude, Lizst’s Un Sospiro, and Rigoletto-paraphrase for piano, Stephen Foster’s  Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair, and Tsujii’s own composition, Elegy for the Victims of the Earthquate and Tsunami of March 11, 2011.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

There are a lot of close ups of Tsjuii’s hands that, at times, seem to move at blinding speed, while his head bobs and weaves throughout the recital.  Detail is fine, if not the last word in crispness, while the distance shots of the hall itself seemed a little out of focus.  Some of the camera angles are sharper than others suggesting that equipment with differing resolution was used during the recording.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The sound engineers have nearly outdone themselves in the rich sound of the Carnegie Hall Steinway. The microphones are discretely placed to emphasize the sounding board and not the thumps of the pedals or clicks of the keys.  I have rarely heard a live piano recording sound better than this one. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0 soundtrack gives more depth and richness than the PCM stereo version.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0/5]

Given the fairly recent arrival of this potential superstar on the world’s music scene, I would have loved to have gotten some interview material, particularly since this concert occurred only eight months after the disastrous tsunami in Japan. Unfortunately, just trailers for EuroArts BDs.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Lovers of the piano repertory will get a major wow factor feeling from a recital that would be an ambitious undertaking for any soloist let alone one so young.  While there is little question about the sheer talent possessed by Tsujii, I felt that, in the larger pieces, he came up a bit shy in the  insights and colors department. Of course, I have heard the Mussorgsky, Beethoven and Liszt selections played by such luminaries as Sviatoslav Richter, Vladimir Horowitz, and Vladmir Ashkenazy, so my bar is set quite high. The good news is that, given the obvious youth of Mr. Tsjuii, he will most certainly plumb the depths of the piano literature as he gains more life and concert experience. A recital debut not to be missed. The next Lang Lang, perhaps?

Additional Screen Captures

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]


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3 COMMENTS

  1. As one of the biggest fans in the U.S.A. of Nobuyuki Tsujii (Nobu), I appreciate this thoughtful and fair minded review.
    I was at the Carnegie Hall that memorable night and I greatly treasure a copy of this Blu-ray by Peter Rosen.
    Nobu is revered in his homeland Japan, where there is no lack of interviews and TV programs about him. I invite you to take a look at a website that I created for his international fans: https://sites.google.com/site/nobufans/

    • Thank you for your response and the link for your website. You were incredibly fortunate to have attended this recital as there is really no substitute for live performance. I will look forward to more from this amazing young artist.

      • Thank you, Lawrence Devoe, for your excellent article and again for your kind response to my comment.
        I posted to a tweet to both EuroArts (which issued this
        blu-ray) and the Van Cliburn Foundation with a link to this article, and
        they both graciously re-tweeted it to their thousands of followers

        Yes, I consider myself very fortunate to have been to many of Nobu’s live performances. You are absolutely right that there is no substitute for that. With any accomplished artist, it is a treat to watch him/her perform live, but with Nobu, it is nothing less than magical.

        I cherish in particular witnessing Nobu’s performance of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 last May in London with the Philharmonia Orchestra, under the baton of Vladirmir Ashkenazy — awe inspiring!
        .

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