7.5/10
392
10 user 33 critic

Pianomania (2009)

Unrated | | Documentary, Music | 4 November 2011 (USA)
Pianomania follows Stefan Knüpfer, a piano tuner from Steinway and his famous clients Lang Lang, Brendel, Buchbinder and Pierre-Laurent Aimard as they search for the perfect pitch. Truly an... See full summary »
2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Stephan Knüpfer Stephan Knüpfer ... Himself
Pierre-Laurent Aimard Pierre-Laurent Aimard ... Pianist
Lang Lang ... Pianist
Till Fellner Till Fellner ... Pianist
Christoph Koller Christoph Koller ... Himself
Alfred Brendel Alfred Brendel ... Pianist
Ian Bostridge Ian Bostridge ... Tenor
Hyung-Ki Joo Hyung-Ki Joo ... Himself (as Richard Hyung-Ki Joo)
Christoph Claßen Christoph Claßen ... Himself
Tobias Lehmann Tobias Lehmann ... Himself
Marita Prohmann Marita Prohmann ... Herself
Rudolf Buchbinder Rudolf Buchbinder ... Pianist
Aleksey Igudesman Aleksey Igudesman ... Himself
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Storyline

Pianomania follows Stefan Knüpfer, a piano tuner from Steinway and his famous clients Lang Lang, Brendel, Buchbinder and Pierre-Laurent Aimard as they search for the perfect pitch. Truly an unusual and entertaining peek behind the curtain at the world's great concert halls. Written by Cibis & Franck

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary | Music

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Austria | Germany

Language:

German | English

Release Date:

4 November 2011 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

PianoMania See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

€400,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,238, 27 May 2011, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$48,349, 15 January 2012
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

OVALmedia, Wildart Film See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color (35 mm version)| Color (HD)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

 
They're not neurotic, just specific
31 August 2011 | by chaz-28See all my reviews

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.


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