Thursday, June 7, 2012

Film Review: Pianomania

Charles A. Smith

"Pianomania," a film by Robert Cibis and Lilian Frank, is the surprisingly compelling story of Stefan Knupfer, Steinway & Sons' chief technician and Master Tuner in Vienna, who tunes pianos for the best players in the world. What he is able to hear is simply amazing! Only he and the very best can hear the pitch perfect sounds and infinitesimally small imperfections. He is the top ranked piano technician in the world, which requires a very precise skill set. More than that, he is the personal assistant to every master virtuoso he works with when it comes to the piano and its sound, taking care of every detail from making sure the pianists have just the right seat they want to finding the right sound in the middle of a tone. There he remains with enough patience and understanding to put most monks to shame. 

Knupfer travels the world making sure that every piano bearing the name Steinway & Sons is perfect for world renowned master pianists who become one with its keys, allowing for the best performances in the world. This magnificently enticing DVD takes you behind the scene to witness firsthand the intricate preparations that are made to tune the Grand Pianos of the world's best players. The music in this video is beyond extraordinary and breathtaking. An extra treat provided by the DVD is watching the artists playing to perfection with the help of the mighty Stefen Knupfer.

"Pianomania" is absolutely phenomenal, both because of the level of mastery that is shown here by the virtuoso pianists, and the job the Knupfer does with a surgeon's precision. It is an enlightening and delightfully entertaining documentary, as viewers get a rare glimpse into the preparations made for a performance by virtuosos who are at the peak of their craft. Those who understand the piano's technical side say, "The modern piano is a fascinating music machine, a machine that is so aggressive that I can't even draw the string that makes it sing without bloodying myself. It is a thing that requires three people to be transported." But Stefan Knupfer has tamed this beast and is the best at what he does. 

"Pianomania" allows the viewer to see Knupfer in action and enjoy some of the most beautiful music known to man and the picturesque scenery of Vienna. It has English subtitles, but that's not a problem as the beauty of the music and the magic of the men behind it will grab your attention and not let go until the very end. Anyone who appreciates the art of perfection will be enthusiastic about this cinematic triumph. 

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