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Of the three DVDs under consideration, this is the least effective. A shame, as Pires is a fascinating subject and her playing is, as ever, miraculous in its pure musicality.

Interviews with Pires and (separately) her mother form the core of the film, but the structure feels loose. What we do hear is never less than interesting, and it is good to hear Pires’ own explanation of her absence from the concert platform from 1978 to 1982 (this was for medical and family reasons, but prolonged beyond its natural conclusion).

Pires’ musical development from her earliest years is described. She is honest about her discomfort in Germany or London (‘I am a very Latin type’), and says she feels Paris is culturally closest to her native Portugal.

The film’s real value, though, is in the extended excerpts, movements and complete pieces: a glorious Chopin Nocturne Op 27/1 at her home with nature in the background; a no less impressive Poulenc Clarinet Sonata excerpt with Michel Portal; and Brahms (from the Violin Sonata No 3) with Augustin Dumay all confirm Pires’ excellence as a chamber music player.

Documentation is close to non-existent, and the picture quality is rather poor, belying the 1991 date. A pity: there is more than a shade of the wasted opportunity about this film, something underlined perhaps by the rather token insert. A pianist of Maria João Pires’ standing deserves more.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing