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-KNOCK ON THE DOOR
# New York, New York #
It's time to start spreading the news...
..just as Ol' Blue Eyes himself once did...
..that a pianist from a little town is about to make it in America.
-# Start spreading the news
-# I'm leaving today
-# I want to be a part of it
-# New York, New York #
-Without a doubt...
-..the pinnacle for any musician...
-..who likes to perform
-on a concert hall stage...
-..is treading the boards
-at Carnegie Hall.
-# New York, New York #
-Everyone who's anyone
-has performed in Carnegie Hall.
-"If you haven't played it,
-you haven't made it."
-# And find I'm king of the hill
-# Top of the heap #
-that one dreams about...
-..with an artist
-at the beginning of their career.
-It's an amazing thing.
-# I'll make a brand new start of it
-# In old New York #
It's one of the most important invitations I've received.
-# If I can make it there
-# I'll make it
-# It's up to you
-# New York
-# New York #
-There aren't many people...
-..who are invited by Carnegie Hall
-to give a debut.
-It's a very elite category.
-# New York, New York #
Every professional musician knows about the challenge they face...
..but for a pianist aiming for the top...
..the competition is intense.
Recognition on both sides of the Atlantic is crucial.
Being invited to play Carnegie Hall in New York...
..as part of a series so early in his career...
..is a major feather in Llyr's cap.
A true privilege - he's the first Welshman to accept the invitation.
Two days before the concert in Carnegie Hall...
..Llyr has other matters on his mind.
He's been invited by the Assembly...
..to take part in the city's St David's Day celebration.
He must choose a piano for the occasion.
-We have two Americans, two Gamberts.
-They're all beautiful pianos.
-So see what you like.
-There are more possibilities
-You can have many more extremes.
-You can play lightly,
-heavily and with more noise.
-It all depends
-what noise is produced.
-Mechanically, all Steinways
-have their own personality.
-The Steinway people know what
-I'm looking for in their pianos.
-If I'm hiring a piano for a concert,
-I ask for a particular piano.
-If I'm performing in Britain,
-they know what I want.
-First, I look for a light action
-which isn't too difficult to play.
-I look for a full
-and powerful sound.
-Then again, it has to be clear.
-I don't like a piano when you have
-to work hard to play it quietly.
-I prefer a strong piano.
-There are no special tricks.
-I'm just looking for a nice piano.
-If you have a good piano,
-it's suitable for most repertoires.
-A piano doesn't improve with age...
-..but a piano that's just left the
-factory isn't quite right either.
-It hasn't settled down.
-A piano that's two or three
-years old is probably the best.
-How do you feel?
-I guess one of these two.
-In my repertoire, I'm going
-to be playing Debussy and Schubert.
-This one would be my choice,
-How do you feel about the action?
-I like a light action that doesn't
-make me have to work too hard.
-If there's anything you want done...
-There's one phrase in Debussy
-which sometimes causes problems.
-It's doing it quite well actually.
-I played it in Wigmore Hall
-in London last weekend...
-..it wasn't doing it too well.
-The springs got soggy -
-the place was too humid.
-We'll double-check them for you.
-Thank you very much.
-I'll call the technician in England
-and bawl him out!
-Alfred Brendel's signature.
-I travelled with him.
-This was the last piano he played.
-We asked him to sign it.
Unbeknown to him, Llyr chooses a remarkable piano...
..for the celebration in the Essex House Hotel.
To prepare the way for the genius on the piano...
..and to wow the New York glitterati...
..the men who are fast becoming stars - Only Men Aloud.
# A-a-a-a-men #
-Llyr, by the way, is
-a very, very ancient name in Wales.
-Put your tongues
-on the top of your mouths, flat...
-..open your lips a little bit
-and blow outside.
-Then you've got a long 'ee'. Ll-ee.
-Then you've got a rolled "r".
Schubert Impromptu No.4
"Wales in America" Concert. Essex House Hotel, New York
Ballade No. 3 Chopin
-I was thrilled to be able to see
-Llyr in such an intimate setting.
-It was great to hear
-his very straightforward style.
-He is sensitive
-and not overly sentimental.
-It's hard to be
-not overly sentimental...
-..when you're performing
-Chopin and Schubert.
-Llyr has a clear style and one that
-lets the music speak for itself.
-It was the most marvellous,
-He reminded me of fluid water.
-His fingers fly over the keys.
-It's almost like he's not going
-to touch the piano but he does.
-In Wales, they say "canu piano" -
-sing the piano.
-He certainly did make
-the piano sing.
-All I could tell you
-is that I felt very tickled.
-That is something you have
-when you're a kid...
-..when it just makes you
-kind of happy.
-Do you know?
-Particularly in the Chopin.
-There was a lot of movement
-in the audience.
-To me, that was exciting.
-You see that happen and you think...
-is really engaged in this.
-"They have to enjoy that music."
-I found his Chopin and Schubert
-a very interesting performance.
-Such care and thought
-and beautifully articulated.
-It was a real ,delight.
-Hearing someone in a setting
-like this is a different experience.
-It brings us back
-to the 19th-century ideas...
-..of salons and listening to music
-in a more intimate environment.
-It was an honour
-to share a stage with Llyr...
-..but we weren't present
-for his performance...
-..because all the tickets had sold
-out for the maestro's performance.
-We had the chance
-to listen behind the doors.
-I'm pleased to see Llyr
-performing here tonight...
-..and, of course, in Carnegie Hall.
-It's a pleasure to see other Welsh
-performers succeeding in America.
-It's so difficult to break
-into this market. It's fantastic.
-I was surprised to see
-the audience in Essex House...
-..listening so intently...
-an unfamiliar piece by Debussy.
-They'd settled down
-right from the start...
-..and appreciated the performance.
-You don't have to play down
-to an audience...
-..if you can do something well.
-You can draw the audience in.
-They're on your side from the start.
-I loved the Debussy.
-I think maybe
-it's the acoustic in this room...
-..but it seemed he was having a love
-affair with French music tonight.
-Finding one's way as an artist
-is the most important thing...
-..and always being true
-to one's self.
-Trying to adhere to
-a marketing department's vision...
-..is one of the most potentially
-confusing things that could happen.
-If you say this is who I am,
-this is the repertoire I perform...
-..and Llyr does that very strongly.
-That is the road to a larger
-presence and larger career.
-The people who do come
-to classical concerts...
-..are a dedicated and fervent bunch.
-There's a real audience
-as intellectually engaged as he is.
Madog (World Premiere) Karl Jenkins
-It's important to me that Welsh
-composers receive more attention...
-The idea behind this is Madog
-who, according to legend...
-..sailed to America
-long before Columbus arrived here.
-He settled with the Native
-American Indians after his arrival.
-He was welcomed by them.
-The music conveys an American idiom
-with the boogie-woogie.
The audience of the St David's Day celebration in Essex House...
..is absolutely enthralled.
Tomorrow, Llyr performs on one of the world's most renowned stages...
Hopefully, the response will be the same.
In America, there are many wonders.
Carnegie Hall is certainly one of them.
Dreaming of playing here is a performer's ultimate desire.
-You're pitting yourself against
-everyone who's been on that stage.
-and Martin Luther King.
-It takes quite a bit of guts
-to go up there and say...
-.."I think I can do just as well."
In 1887, millionaire Andrew Carnegie and his wife Louise...
..were sailing from New York to spend their honeymoon in Scotland.
Also on the ship was Walter Damrosch...
..conductor of the Oratorio Society of which Louise was a member.
They both persuaded Andrew to build a new concert hall.
Much to everyone's surprise...
..the location chosen by Carnegie was a long way from the city centre.
-This area was known as Hogtown.
-There were 40,000 pigs
-People were almost in disbelief.
-They would say, "Who's going
-to go that far to hear music?"
-But then heard about three other
-performance halls in the building.
-They found it incredulous.
To tempt New Yorkers 20 blocks north to the inaugural festival...
..a special artist was needed.
There was one who could do that.
The world's most famous musician at the time.
-At first. Tchaikovsky said no,
-he was a little busy.
-Andrew Carnegie made him an offer
-he couldn't refuse.
Tchaikovsky performed there for 20 days...
..for a sum of 2,500, a huge payment at the time...
..but it was a very shrewd investment.
-No musician of this calibre
-had ever come to America before.
-He was quite the superstar.
-The tickets sold out, partly because
-they wanted to see the hall...
-..but more importantly,
-they wanted to see Tchaikovsky.
Recreation of the Opening Night 1947 Film Carnegie Hall
Piano Concerto No.1 in B Flat Minor Op.23
On the grand opening night, carriages queued for half a mile.
After the first three days, it all fell rather quiet.
New ideas were needed to attract the crowds.
The piano saved the day.
-The United States was the largest
-manufacturer of pianos in the world.
-I like to say - the iPod of its day.
When Theodore Steinway heard Polish pianist Paderewski playing...
..he concluded that the Steinway Hall would be too small for him.
-Steinway had never seen an audience
-react to a pianist like this.
-They were pounding their fists
-on the stage.
-The concerts sold out.
-As one critic in the paper said,
-"What a difference 30 blocks makes."
-Meaning - if you were good enough,
-the public went the extra mile.
-And put it on your publicity.
-"Sold Out, Carnegie's Hall."
-That started to mean things
-to people around town...
-..and it still does.
If Carnegie Hall, so far from the city centre...
..wanted to attract a loyal audience...
..it had to attract the artistes.
Since the early days, the best have continued to perform there.
Maria Callas, Enrico Caruso, Pablo Casals, Jascha Heifetz...
..Vladimir Horowitz, Gustav Mahler, Sergei Rachmaninov...
..Luciano Pavarotti and Bryn Terfel.
-Two Americans outside the hall
-and one asks the other...
-.."Excuse me, sir, do you know
-the way to Carnegie Hall?"
-The other one answers,
-"Practice, practice, practice."
Over 75% of the concerts are held by artistes who've invited themselves...
..through private impresarios.
It's a greater honour to be invited to play there.
Only 180 of these concerts are held each year.
-The decision of who to engage
-is made on artistic merit.
-I first encountered Llyr's playing
-in a BBC music magazine CD.
-A recording of the Liszt B Minor
-Sonata that was white hot.
-It was such electrifying playing.
Llyr was invited to perform in the Weill Recital Hall...
..the stage famous for its chamber music performances.
-Although Weill is the smaller venue
-at Carnegie Hall...
-..it is no less prestigious
-than the other two halls.
-In fact, we only present
-four debut recitals a season.
-That's from the entire universe
-of artistes, we choose four people.
It's quite an achievement.
Invited as one of four of the world's best musicians.
Enough to send anyone's heartbeat racing.
-I didn't feel nervous at all
-making my debut in Carnegie Hall.
-If something, I felt more nervous
-in Wigmore Hall, London.
-I knew more people there.
-I had a reputation to preserve.
Schubert First Movement Piano Sonata in C Minor D.958
-Since this was the first full
-recital I'd done in Carnegie Hall...
-..I wanted to perform works
-I could play well.
-I wanted to showcase my skills
-at their best.
-I was anxious that he shouldn't play
-anything too classical...
-..like Beethoven or Mozart
-by which he would be judged.
-..and also something
-that's not too often done.
-To start with the Schubert sonata
-was amazingly bold.
-It's a big work
-to start a concert with.
-It shows the kind
-of confidence that he has.
Schubert Fourth Movement Piano Sonata in C Minor D.958
In the early days of a professional career...
..an agent's advice and support is crucial.
Between the rehearsal and performance...
..time to relax and sample some local cuisine.
How would an Oxford First Alpha react to American culture?
-Enjoy your meal.
-What an enormous menu.
-Coffee for you, ma'am. Espresso.
Welcome to the Carnegie Deli. What brings you to our establishment?
-We saw the name. It said Carnegie
-so I thought it would be good.
What are you doing in New York?
-I played a concert
-in Carnegie Hall last night.
Oh, yeah? How come I wasn't invited? Is this your first appearance here?
-My first full concert.
It's a good venue to start.
How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
You gotta come to the Carnegie Deli before you get to Carnegie Hall.
All these stars - how did they get to Carnegie Hall?
Through the Carnegie Deli.
By the way, I didn't introduce myself. I'm Mr Levin.
I'm the proprietor.
I have a wonderful degree from Oxford.
Here's my card.
MBD. Do you know what that means?
-Never heard of that one.
I Married the Boss's Daughter! Then I came right back here.
There are two rules to adhere to.
You can't leave until you finish.
If you finish, we made a mistake.
Enjoy your meal and thank you for coming.
-Thank you very much.
-This is for you.
She made a mistake.
Stay with me, guys.
Stay with me, stay with me.
After Schubert and Debussy's melodic music in the first half...
..Llyr has chosen a difficult Russian piece as an exciting finale.
-Pictures At An Exhibition
-by Mussorgsky is interesting.
-I learnt to play the piece
-by performing in masterclasses...
-..while I was at university.
-This piece has been famously
-arranged for an orchestra by Ravel.
Mussorgsky Pictures At An Exhibition
-The Promenade depicts Mussorgsky
-walking around an exhibition.
-He's confident at the beginning.
-The Dwarf is the piece
-that follows the Promenade.
-The original painting
-is evidently something very ugly.
-Halfway through the music...
-..there's a slow piece
-with strong chords.
-We get the impression that
-the dwarf is trying to follow us...
-..but because it's a dwarf,
-it can't move quickly.
-It just decides to turn nasty.
-After The Dwarf, there's
-a quieter piece with The Promenade.
-It leads straight into The Castle -
-Il Vecchio Castello.
-To make it more interesting...
-..there's a person in the painting -
-He sings a sad song outside...
-..a serenade to his lover
-outside the castle.
-We move on to The Tuileries Gardens
-in Paris where children play.
-Following that is the cart
-drawn by oxen in Poland.
-Mussorgsky was a socialist at heart.
-with the ordinary worker...
-..driving the oxen in the field.
-That's why it's such an effort
-to play this piece.
-Halfway through the piece, we hear
-a sad rendition of The Promenade.
-It starts quietly
-at the top of the piano.
-This is a tribute
-conveying Mussorgsky's sadness...
-..as he thinks about his friend,
-Hartmann, who painted the images.
-He'd died a few months earlier.
-The next piece is
-the Ballet Of The Unhatched Chicks.
-The only painting that has survived
-is a sketch.
-It was very difficult to master
-this piece. It can sound too heavy.
-There's a lot of fast notes.
-You could easily play them noisily
-to identify the nature of the dance.
-It's one of the most
-difficult pieces to play.
-Suddenly, there's an image
-of Samuel Goldenberg, the rich Jew.
-He's so full of himself.
-This is in direct contrast...
-..with Schmuyle leaning
-against a wall, begging for money.
-Samuel Goldenberg refuses
-to give away any of his money.
-At the end of the piece...
-..Mussorgsky brings the characters
-together to create a dialogue.
-but Samuel Goldenberg says, "No!".
-we move to the market in Limoges.
-The women quarrel
-at the marketplace.
-This piece leads into the catacombs.
-It's very frightening.
-Near the end, we have another
-version of The Promenade.
-We picture Mussorgsky
-walking through the catacombs...
-..with a lantern
-to guide him along in the dark.
-The next piece
-is The Hut On Hen's Legs.
-It portrays a witch
-who lives in the cabin or hut.
-You have to create diablerie -
-it must sound demonic.
-After the wickedness...
-..we move towards the light
-at the end...
-..and The Great Gate Of Kiev.
-The triumphant ringing of the bells.
-It's an effective piece
-We hear one bell in the mid-range
-of the piano...
-..and another one
-closer to the bottom.
-You combine these two and
-build up to the finale at the end.
-There's so much emotion
-in the piece...
-..but the finale is very triumphant.
-This composition always
-goes down well with audiences.
-They feel better at the end
-than they did at the beginning.
-People here don't give everyone
-a standing ovation.
-They have to be quality
-..and Llyr has certainly
-reached the New York standard.
-In the Schubert, I was listening
-for his inner voices.
-His voicing is absolutely superb.
-The hardest thing
-about playing the piano...
-..is being able to hear
-not only one voice...
-..but two or three voices and each
-one at a different dynamic level.
-Many pianists cannot do that.
-He didn't over pedal,
-he didn't bang.
-We heard beautiful tone no matter
-how soft or how loud he plays.
-That is exceptional.
-I was speaking to one woman...
-..who'd attended performances
-such as this since 1997.
-Until tonight, she had never
-stayed for a whole performance.
-We were sitting in the balcony and
-we weren't over in the front row.
-We could tell that he was looking...
-..and saying to the audience,
-"Did you feel that? Listen to this."
-My theory was he had a girlfriend
-in the front row!
-There are two or three small halls.
-If you succeed there...
-..it's a ticket
-to perform on that unique stage.
-I would hope that he'll be
-invited back to Carnegie.
-That's almost as big a step
-as being invited in the first place.
-We'll have to see.
-I'm reasonably confident
-that it won't be too long.
S4C Subtitles by Simian 04 Cyf.