Pianomania, now playing six times a day at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, is not just for the pianomaniacs among us. In some ways this engrossing documentary does for pianos what Buck did for horses by giving the audience unprecedented access to an extremely rarified world and introducing us to a specialist at the top of his game, in this case Steinway & Sons chief technician Stefan Knüpfer. But don't take our word for it! Here's what the critics are saying about the film:
Manohla Dargis of the New York Times says: “Pianos don’t cry out in pain, even when their listeners do; they go out of tune, warp and crack. Yet to watch Stefan Knüpfer delicately prod the insides of a Steinway concert grand Model D… is to witness a procedure akin to laparoscopic surgery, if done with animal glue.”
Joseph Jon Lanthier of Slant Magazine calls it: “a gentle portrait of aural genius, the film follows Steinway & Sons' chief technician, Stefan Knüpfer, through a series of piano repairs and calibrations during the months, hours, and seconds leading up to star recitals in the famed Vienna Concert House.”
Trevor Johnson of Time Out London agrees that this is a film for everyone: “For classical buffs, the presence in this documentary of pianists such as Alfred Brendel, Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Lang Lang probably constitutes recommendation enough. Yet this Austrian offering is too intriguing and entertaining to be left to the specialists.”
Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times observes: “All those months spent following Knüpfer pay off in this crisis, because the filmmakers have complete access to the most sensitive artistic discussions. 'Pianomania' details how stressful it can be to navigate a world where there is no such thing as an unreasonable demand, but when a pianist like Aimard hears what he's done and exclaims, “I've always dreamed of this sound,” we understand that it's all been worthwhile.”
And Nigel Andrews of the Financial Times raves: “Robert Cibis and Lilian Franck’s documentary is so enthralling … that 93 minutes pass like a bar of the 'Minute Waltz' … Cibis and Franck definitely know what they are doing; they should win every music-documentary prize available.”
Pianomania plays at 11:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm, 5:00pm, 7:15pm and 9:30pm. Director Robert Cibis will be in person for a Q&A following today's 7:15pm show!