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Neil Brand – The Silent Pianist Speaks - One4Review

After seeing Neil Brand’s fascinating performance, I doubt if anybody in the audience will view film musical accompaniment as nothing less than a serious art form. Neil Brand is a highly accomplished pianist and his show is a celebration of the skill required to enhance and interpret silent films. He demonstrates using clips of legends of silent comedy such as Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy plus a piece of French slapstick from a century ago to show how vital the music was to make the comedy live – and it still does. A Douglas Fairbanks action film also shows the art of building up tension. Delightful little anecdotes link the film selections to reveal the improvisation that is required, as on the occasion when he was playing the music to accompany a dramatic fire scene of a film he hadn’t seen before. Thinking it might last a few minutes of intensive playing, it lasted for 25 minutes. He plays a little game taking a German film showing scenes set in a park with some young people and inviting the audience by show of hand to direct how he should play the music when the subsequent action could either be menacing or romantic. There is an educational aspect to Neil Brand’s approach, but this is a show which is never ever dull and you are in the company of a master of art and technique. ****

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