In 1972, when Vladimir Ashkenazy was at a new peak both in his playing and in his career, we planned with him to shoot two recitals for television, one Chopin and one Beethoven.
For quite some time, Ashkenazy had been extremely reluctant to perform in television studios - rightly so, since they are not the best places in which to make music.
In order to overcome this problem and to film our artist at his best, we arranged the two recitals at the University of Essex in Colchester. The intention was to try and get the best of both worlds. To provide the right sort of circumstances for Ashkenazy to give of his best, with an audience which could be relied upon to respond enthusiastically to his performances, and with the evening under our control so that we could maintain the highest production values.
In the event, the experiment proved an unqualified success and the sound-track of Ashkenazy Plays Chopin was released by Decca Records on a commercial disc; a signal and very unusual honour.
After a brief introduction there is an interview with Ashkenazy about his attitudes to Chopin and the pieces that he is about to perform. The film continues with the two Nocturnes Opus 15 Nos 1 and 2 and the B minor Funeral March Sonata Opus 35. It ends with two encores, the Mazurka in A flat Opus 59 no 2 and the Grand Valse Brillante in E flat Opus 18.
This is an historic document of a great musician at a significant moment in his career.
Chopin: Grande Valse Brillante in E flat Opus 18; Nocturne in F Major, Op. 15, No. 1; Nocturne in F Major, Op. 15, No. 2; Sonata No.2 in B flat minor, Op. 35; Mazurka in A flat, Op. 59, No.2