Since the pandemic began, playwright, pianist and artist Hershey Felder has used his time on the road, turning many of his solo works for well-traveled composers into recurring characters and various local films. . established in home port. Florence, Italy
The latest composer to make the transition from stage to film is Frederic Chopin in the new edition of Felder, Chopin and Liszt. Felder's audience-interactive production of Monsieur Chopin broke a San Diego Repertory Theater record in 2019. But Felder cautions that Chopin and Liszt are not adaptations of that scene. This is a new innovation.
Currently playing live through September 11, Felder's Chopin at TheaterWorks in the Bay Area follows Chopin as he tells stories about his life and performs excerpts from his works to an audience of young student musicians. In the new film Chopin and Liszt, the life and music of the composer is fully understood from the perspective of his colleague Franz Liszt. Some of the music played by Felder in the film is the same as in the show, while the rest is a new story full of intrigue and surprises.
Chopin and Liszt, which was planned as a fundraiser for the San Diego location before it closed in June, can now be requested only through Felder's website, hersheyfelderpresents.com.
Chopin and Liszt began in Paris in 1849, shortly after the Polish composer's death at age 39, and those who knew him are still dealing with its aftermath.
Chopin's sister Louise (Eleanor Reisz) sells his manuscripts to pay off her debts, her lover George Sand (Debbie Mazar) collects all of Chopin's personal papers to protect her privacy, and Liszt's longtime lover, Princess Caroline Wittgenstein (Sally George). Anecdotes are collected in Chopin's biography written under the name of Liszt. Their combined actions ultimately influence how much or little we know about Chopin.
In the film, Chopin is played by Israeli pianist Boris Hiltberg, and Liszt is played by Felder. Both are accomplished pianists, and all the music in the film was performed and recorded, much of it on Chopin's piano. There's a lot of music in the two-hour film, and Felder is a particularly fine interpreter of what Liszt calls Chopin's "cloud of sound." Indeed, the entire film, composed by Felder and Stefano DiCarli, has an air of melancholy that permeates much of Chopin's brooding music.
For much of the film, Liszt and Caroline discuss a book about Chopin's work – which turns out to be Chopin's actual biography – and flashbacks during their conversation reveal the stories behind the composition.
Inspired by Chopin's happy childhood in Poland, the somber second movement of the Concerto in F minor depicts Chopin's exile and the destruction of his family after the Russian occupation of his homeland; and the haunting Piano Sonata no. 2 ("Funeral March") expresses his "sorrow" after the death of his sister Emilia at the age of 15. On the other hand, there is the famously high-spirited Grande Valse Brillante.
Liszt admired Chopin as a genius, but his love was not returned. Behind the scenes, Chopin mocked the Hungarian composer for his minor works and perhaps out of jealousy over Liszt's impressive and majestic playing style. It is therefore interesting that in Liszt's biography the last word "Poet of the Piano" is used to emphasize Caroline's importance to Chopin.
While this fully realized film is nothing like Felder's Chopin solo performance, it does have a surprising coda: an improvised and sung scene that Felder fans have seen in many of his live performances.