- Title: USA: AUSTRALIAN PIANIST DAVID HELFGOTT PERFORMS IN NEW YORK
- Date: 18th March 1997
- Summary: NEW YORK (MARCH 18, 1997) (RTV ) AUDIENCE LEAVING THEATRE AUDIENCE MEMBER SAYING "I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED THE PERFORMANCE. IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT THE CRITICS SAY, YOU'RE WATCHING SOMEONE WHO'S RECOVERED FROM A MENTAL ILLNESS AND IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT HIS IMPERFECTIONS ARE AND TWO THOUSAND PEOPLE IN THERE AGREED WITH ME COUPLE LEAVING THEATRE. SAYING THE ACTOR (GEOFFREY RUSH WHO PLAYED THE ADULT HELFGOTT IN "SHINE") IS A DOUBLE FOR HIM (DAVID HELFGOTT). THE MOVIE WAS EXCELLENT. IT SHOULD WIN AN AWARD, HE SHOULDN'T WIN ANY AWARD TERRY TEACHOUT, CLASSICAL MUSIC CRITIC FOR THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, SAYING "HE PLAYS ALONG AT A LOUD DYNAMIC LEVEL, BASHES AWAY AT CHORDS RANDOMLY.--NO SENSE OF PHRASING, NO REAL RESPONSE TO WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE MUSIC, THE NOTES COME OUT OF HIS FINGERS BUT IT'S LIKE A PLAYER PIANO THAT'S NOT BEEN PROPERLY REGULATED. HE PLAYS THE NOTES BUT THE DYNAMIC IS WRONG." AS HE FINISHES SPEAKING, WOMAN WHO IDENTIFIES HERSELF AS A CLASSICALLY-TRAINED PIANIST SAYS OFF CAMERA "THAT'S NOT TRUE." WOMAN WHO IDENTIFIES HERSELF AS A CLASSICALLY-TRAINED PIANIST SAYS, POINTING TO TEACHOUT, "IT'S SO UNTRUE. IT WASN'T THE KIND OF RAPING OF THE PIANO A LOT OF PROFESSIONAL PIANISTS SOMETIMES DO TO SHOW OFF AND PLAY AS LOUD AS POSSIBLE. NONE OF THAT. THE SOUND RANG TRUE, IT WAS FREE, AS FAR AS THE DYNAMICS ARE CONCERNED, I DON'T KNOW WHAT THIS GENTLEMAN MEANS, IT'S SO UNFAIR, SO UNTRUE. WOMAN SAYING IT WAS WONDERFUL, HE WAS A VIRTUOSO, A DELIGHT TO WATCH - TOTALLY INTO THE MUSIC. TERRY TEACHOUT, OF THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS SPEAKING AS NOTED ABOUT AUDIENCE REACTION
- Embargoed: 2nd April 1997 13:00
- Location: NEW YORK CITY AND BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, USA
- Country: USA
- Reuters ID: LVA5E29W5I47JSFZHIVOAL8ITRDA
- Story Text: David Helfgott, the Australian pianist whose return to the stage after a mental breakdown is dramatised in the hit movie "Shine," made his New York debut this week. Helfgott has proved enormously popular, even though critics for leading American newspapers say he plays poorly.
The full house for Helfgott's concert at Lincoln Center, came to watch him perform despite the terrible reviews of his United States debut in Boston on March 5. The Washington Post called the Boston concert "a painful and disturbing experience. The New York Times's critic, Anthony Tommasini, wrote " If the pianist who inspired an inspiring film isn't very good, what then?" Critics questioned whether Helfgott was mentally fit for a world tour. They reported that he talked to himself continually on stage, saying things like "smile" and "must concentrate." They called his performances of masterpieces by Chopin and Rachmaninoff "garbled" and even "incoherent." But Helfgott's concert audiences have given him warm applause. Helfgott's recording of Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto is one of the hottest selling classical albums in the United States. The concerto is a dramatic high point in "Shine" --- the young Helfgott collapses while performing it in a student competition, and he enters a psychiatric hospital. Critics have panned Helfgott's currently popular Rachmaninoff recording as "erratic." Some of the concert-goers at Lincoln Centre admitted they had attended the concert out of "curiosity." One audience member said she found the movie extremely moving and now wanted to "see if he can play." Many of those who attended the concert were as vocal in their support as critics have been in their dismissal of David Helfgott.
Many praised the performance and Mr. Helfgott himself for his feat in recovering from mental illness and being able to perform.
Others commented on the similarities of Mr. Helfgott's demeanor to the actor Geoffrey Rush, who plays the adult Helfgott in the movie "Shine," but found Tuesday's performance less inspiring. "The movie should win an award," said one man, "I don't think he should win any awards." Terry Teachout, the Classical Music critic for one of New York's largest circulation dailies, the New York Daily News, told Reuters Television that the critics were unanimous in panning the night's performance. He likened Mr. Helfgott's playing to a "player piano that has not been properly regulated. He plays the notes but the dynamics are all wrong." A woman who identified herself as a classically-trained pianist interrupted the interview to say "that's not true," and to defend Mr. Helfgott's playing, and other audience members exiting the theatre were quick to agree with her, saying the performance was "wonderful." "The audience reaction was very enthusiastic," said Teachout, "People were applauding someone they've seen in a movie more than anything else. They're applauding an idea of a person able to overcome this great obstacle, they're certainly not applauding a musical performance in any meaningful sense." Mr. Helfgott received a standing ovation and he performed several encores.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2014. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None