Pianomania - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Pianomania Reviews

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½ March 5, 2016
Interesting but not fascinating - there's hints of passion, but it's not often fully conveyed, likewise insights into both people and technical details. Nice, but could have been much more.
May 3, 2014
I guess if you have a special interest in pianos this movie might entertain you.The movie consists of lots of interviews with popular European pianists (Tills Fellner from Austria,etc) which I had not even heard of I saw this movie with my Dad and he was interested since he really likes pianos but I can't say it was very good. It was somewhat boring along with the unappealing scenes of carrying pianos in Hamburg and New York. The movie also consists of lots of German subtitles and my Dad knows German so he didn't really need them but I don't speak it at all or have any intention of learning it.
January 5, 2014
Excellent portrayal of artist working to produce that perfect voice of the piano. A real lesson in listening.
July 14, 2013
I am going to pass on this one.
March 19, 2012
Fascinating topic. Not a well-crafted documentary though/
March 5, 2012
"brief mild language" as the rating commission may say (a stupid misuse of the English language btw) - amazing music and above all a truly obsessed professional - great for young people to see how you can have a profession you love. No kissing, no guns, no warp engines - just grand pianos and amazing suspense.
November 6, 2011
Beautiful documentary for classical music lovers.
August 31, 2011
The technician and pianists studied up close in Pianomania, a 2009 Austrian documentary, are searching for the perfect sound. They always get close, but I am not sure any of them well confess to ever actually hearing it. Stefan Knupfer is Steinway & Sons master technician based out of Vienna. He works at the Vienna concert house tuning, re-tuning, breaking apart and re-constructing grand pianos. Working closely with the most famous and skilled pianists in the world including Lang Lang and Pierre-Laurent Aimard, they have intense discussions concerning tone, flavor, color, air, etc...

It turns out that grand pianos each have their own respective flavor, shape, and feeling. Is the sound round or too round? Is it full, thick, thin, light, or heavy? In Pianomania, Stefan describes the piano as the perfect music machine. Its full volume can reach 4000 in a single hall. Conversely, another technician raises the question of just how much of a musical instrument it really is. It takes three people just to move it around and if you draw on a particular string you will slice your hand open.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard will record Bach concertos in one year at the concert hall. A full year before these recordings, Stefan is already hard at work on it. He travels to Hamburg to painstakingly select the back-up piano in case the first one is not to Pierre's liking. He goes over to the Hofburg to consult harpsichord and clavichord experts because he feels he must know their sounds better. He almost self destructs when new hammerheads arrive (the parts which hit the piano strings) and they are 0.7mm too skinny, a fact he can tell just by looking at them.

Throughout the year, Stefan works hand-in-hand with all of these accomplished solo pianists to find the sound they are so desperately trying to describe. Tension frequently arises when they either cannot understand one another or when a piano sounds amazing to one person but like garbage to another. Well into the film, it is not odd to hear phrases such as "the tone is fine, it is what is in the tone which sounds off."

Listening to the musicians play after they have finally decided the piano is ready is a real pleasure. There are extended sequences devoted to them. The camera work veers off every now and then though to try and match the sounds such as filming clouds reflecting on water or blurry neon lights. Those shots do not work very well but they are few and far between. Also, once the Bach recordings begin a year later, they can become quite tedious as you will see microphones adjusted and re-adjusted and Stefan running up and down the stairs repeatedly between the stage and the recording booth. This conveys exactly what it is supposed to, that recording major works of classical music is extremely challenging, but it also not very amusing for the audience either.

I recommend Pianomania to those who appreciate classical music and would like to peek behind the curtain a bit. Beware to those of you who do not seem interested by these descriptions, you will probably be bored.
August 23, 2011
Watched two documentary procedurals this week: EL BULLI is good, a must for goodies; but this proves music to be a far better than food as a subject for film. The built-in soundtrack helps.
½ May 21, 2011
Kind of interesting, I really don't know there's so much thing about "PIANO", since I usually get bored easily while listening to the piano playing. Different sound of piano to fit in different kinds of music style! Nice!!
March 13, 2011
un film trsè intà (C)ressant sur le travail des accordeurs de piano des plus grands concertistes et de leur ingà (C)nieurs du son ! A la recherche du son le plus parfait !
½ October 30, 2010
Documentary that gives a fascinating insight into the working life of a piano tuner and technician working in concert halls around Europe. Quite hard to believe the level of subtlety demanded of the tuner by artists who are looking for every last detail of every last note to be just right. I found the editing a little odd in places (seemed to sometimes jump between scenes for no apparent reason), but enjoyed the film.
½ September 15, 2010
Wirklich nur etwas fĂĽr perfektionistische Spezialisten und Liebhaber des KonzertflĂĽgels.
½ August 22, 2010
There's a certain rapt fascination to be taken from observing these technicians at work, and classical buffs will doubtless respond to the performed pieces, especially given Knupfer's commitment to providing clarity of sound. Yet "Pianomania" suffers for having emerged after Frederick Wiseman's "La Danse", which - though set in a different form of institution - was better able to suggest a context for its subjects' work, and why each slight corrective mattered. Knupfer's labours are not immediately dramatic - a crisis involving narrow hammerheads is as heated as it gets - and prove just as often frustrating as diverting, all those onscreen hearing (and themselves struggling to describe) barely perceptible subtleties and variations a 93-minute film can't even begin to train our unschooled ears in.
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