Chopin Saved My Life w/t (1 x 60′) – Chopin’s 1st Ballade is less than ten minutes long and considered extremely difficult to play, yet it has become one of the most iconic and influential pieces in the piano repertoire. It is an internet sensation with 2000 versions on You Tube – from an eight-year-old Chinese girl to a 70 year-old virtuoso – one version by Horowitz has received over two million hits. It has been likened to climbing The Eiger mountain in Switzerland: demanding extraordinary feats of dexterity, control, speed, memory, and power. This hour-long documentary, directed by Bafta and Emmy award-winning director James Kent, meets Japanese teenager Momoka and Scottish music student Paul Murray to explore how Chopin’s extraordinary Ballade Number 1 redeemed the futures of ordinary people in distress and illustrates how classical music still penetrates deep into contemporary life, in unexpected and powerful ways.
Also commenting on the Ballade, explaining and demonstrating its intensities and challenges are four of the greatest pianists alive today: Russian conductor and concert pianist, Vladimir Ashkenazy; 29-year-old Chinese pianist Lang Lang; London-born Imogen Cooper and the number one pianist in the UK, Stephen Hough. Those who know and love Chopin’s epic piece say everything is contained in these ten minutes: love, tragedy, life, death, hope, anguish and Stephen Hough brings these together with musical virtuosity to perform the piece in its entirety as the film’s finale.
Channel: Channel 4
Producer: Oxford Film and Television
TX: Summer 2012
Source: Channel 4 press release