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Topic: Review request : MAESTRO, Rene Lavand
Message: Posted by: Jerskin (Feb 20, 2012 08:47PM)
Four DVD set is $150.00
Anyone have them?
Message: Posted by: helder (Mar 3, 2012 08:42AM)
Yeah, I have and recomend them. Why? Because he's a true master of our art. His routines wich he call compositions are like poetry. And in this dvd set you can see not only those compositions but also the interviews full of great storys.
Message: Posted by: Tilman (Mar 4, 2012 06:11AM)
It is amazing to see that very few people write about this set online.
To begin with, I thought you might benefit from a complete listing of the content.
Here you go:


AN EVENING WITH RENÉ LAVAND [his one-man show]
1) The Credential
[A triumph routine]
2) The Aces, Two, Three, Four
[Jacob's Ladder]
3) The Sonnet
[Using a one handed bottom deal to deal thirteen cards of the same suit plus one Joker to your own hand in a four-handed game, from a seemingly shuffled deck, while reciting a sonnet by Lope de Vega]
4) Ambitious Card
5) The Three of Spades
[A routine with 'no hand'. A spectator selects a card. The card lost in the deck, which is shuffled by a spectator. The deck is cased and put into one of the performer's outer jacket pockets. When the spectator reaches into the pocket, the chosen card is found to be outside the card case, while the rest of the deck is still in the case. The spectator is allowed to reach into the pocket three times, checking that it is empty at the outset, removing the chosen card and removing the deck, confirming that the pocket is otherwise empty. The deck is switched in the process.]
6) Why Do The Colors Alternate?
[Call to the Colors. The deck is shuffled and shown to be in a random sequence. Then the deck is dealt out several times, showing that the colors now alternate (one by one, two by two, three by three, or as the spectator and the magician wish).]
7) The 'Copla'
[Follow the Leader]
8) It Can't Be Done Any Slower
[Lavand's signature Oil & Water routine]
9) Card Calling
[Spectators stop as cards are dealt or request certain cards at certain positions and the magician is able to name them, even though the deck is shuffled by the spectator before and during the routine and the magician.]
10) Three Bread Crumbs
[Two in the hand, one in the pocket - using an espresso cup as the second hand]
11) Card in Wallet

- Interview 1 of 4
[René Lavand being interviewed by Luis de Matos]
- Contrapunto
[An imaginary duel between two hands, whereby René Lavand is given a second hand 'through the magic of television'.]
- Credits
Message: Posted by: Tilman (Mar 4, 2012 06:14AM)

Explanations of all the routines performed on Disc One, plus:

- Interview 2 of 4
[René Lavand being interviewed by Luis de Matos]
- René Lavand performing 'It Can't Be Done Any Slower' at EMC 2011
- Credits
Message: Posted by: Tilman (Mar 4, 2012 07:17AM)

1) The Greek
[A four of a kind is chosen. The four cards turn blank on both sides one by one, then return to their initial state one by one.]
2) The Cumanes
[A combination of Cutting the Aces and Gambler vs. Magician]
3) Antonio the Gypsy
[A combination of a Three Card Monte and and a routine that might have been inspired by 'Gambler Out-Gambled', by Cy Endfield]
4) Duel in the West
[A fake bottom deal demonstration where the spectators notice that the last of four cards dealt comes from the bottom, but then are made to realise that the first three cards dealt came from the bottom too.]
5) The Tijuano
[A card to pocket routine with at its presentational basis a wordplay that will only work in some languages.]
6) Old Man River
[Multiple baccarat and poker demonstrations, accompanied by a script inspired by the 1927 musical 'Show Boat']
7) Pygmalion
[Wild Card routine]
8) Spanish Deck routine
[Lavand's 'grown-up' version of the first card trick he learned as a child, using a Spanish deck. First, four cards at positions named by spectators turn out to be four of a kind (actually, the last of the cards is cut to after a spectator shuffles the deck); then cards at positions called out by spectators are named before they are turned over; then a chosen card is shuffled into the deck by a spectator and the deck is put into the performer's jacket pocket (which a spectator has checked to be empty); the deck is removed, but when a spectator reaches into the pocket, the chosen card is found to be the only card remaining in the pocket; a card is named by a spectator and cards a dealt; the named card is at the position at which a spectator stops the performer's deal; a card cut to by a spectator is named before it is turned over; the number of cards in the packet cut off is named; the earlier stop trick is repeated; all cards are called out in order; then, as a finish, dealing out nine hands, all remaining fours of a kind of the deck are revealed to have gathered together.]

- Interview 3 of 4
[René Lavand being interviewed by Luis de Matos]
- Some backstage footage of the production
- Credits
Message: Posted by: Tilman (Mar 4, 2012 07:32AM)

- Fosco Shuffle
[one-handed false riffle shuffle, invented by one of René Lavand's students]
- False Riffle Shuffle
[Lavand's well-known one-handed strip out shuffle]
- Partial Shuffle
[one-handed riffle shuffle preserving top stock]
- Slip Cut
[retaining one card at bottom of deck]
- False Cut
[retaining order of whole deck or top stock]
- False Deals
[one-handed seconds and thirds]
- Turnover Change
[Lavand's handling for switching one or several cards as they are turned over on the table]
- The Strike
[Lavand's one-handed bottom deal]
- Card Palming
[technique for one-handed top palm, including one-handed palming of several cards]
- Short Card
[misnomer, this refers to the corner short and one-handed techniques for cutting to it]
- Deck Switch
[using a wardrobe alteration]

- Interview 4 of 4
[René Lavand being interviewed by Luis de Matos]

- TV Archive of performances of:
a) Mahtub [Ten Card Poker Deal with Royal Flush finish]
b) Perhaps, Some Day [Three Cards to Wallet routine that inspired Darwin Ortiz' presentation for 'The Unholy Three']
c) It Can't Be Done Any Slower

- Credits
Message: Posted by: Tilman (Mar 4, 2012 08:46AM)

Darwin Ortiz mentions in his introduction to René Lavand's 'The Mysteries of My Life' that there are three concepts that Mr. Lavand stresses again and again when discussing magic: atisbo (suspense), la pausa (the pause), equilibrio (balance, in this case between effect and presentation). The first of these two concepts are related to timing.
René Lavand's magic was well-preserved on dvd before this newest release. However, on both the five-dvd set published by Meir Yedid and on the two-dvd set put out by International Magic, René Lavand's Spanish is interpreted live (by Tina Lenert and Joe Hernandez). It was therefore very difficult to appreciate René Lavand's timing on both of these earlier releases. This is even more regrettable once one realises how essential timing is to his understanding of magic.
If I had to name one feature that makes this set stand out when compared to its predecessors, it is therefore the fact that translations are now provided for the first time in the form of subtitles, thereby making it possible to get a notion of Mr. Lavand's timing and delivery. This is especially valuable when it comes to the life performance filmed at the Ajuda National Palace in Lisbon, which is on the first disc.
The show on that disk was also captured in London in November 2009 for the International Magic dvd set. However, the absence of a live interpreter and the venue at which this is recorded make for a much better viewing experience.
If you want to study René Lavand the performer, this is the dvd set you should get.

I should mention, though, that the quality of the subtitles that I was able to check (English and French) is rather poor, containing numerous grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Even if that did diminish the joy of watching René Lavand a little bit, it did so much less than listening to the interpretations on earlier releases.

There are two more features that make this set stand out.
First of all, four television appearances of René Lavand are preserved on the first and last of these dvds. 'Contrapunto' is a sensational piece written by Lavand's friend Rolando Chirico - a potpourri of Lavand's most famous pieces all strung together in eight minutes (you can find it on youtube too). The other three television appearances show a somewhat younger René Lavand performing some of his trademark pieces in front of a studio audience. I would compare the importance of these recordings to those of Slydini on the Dick Cavett show. Luckily, at least Lavand's are on dvd now.
The second feature standing out are the interviews conducted by Luis de Matos. De Matos is clearly in love with Lavand's magic (and, it seems, also with the man himself) and has managed to record some of the most intimate interview footage with a magician that I've ever seen. Not only is he extremely well prepared (it is evident that he has read the autobiographical chapters in Lavand's books very closely). He also does not shy away from asking questions that are on the one hand very personal, but on the other hand extremely relevant for understanding Lavand's presentation of magic. The one aspect most striking about Lavand's One Man Show is the importance of death and mortality as a theme. And it is to these themes that the interview returns time and again. I would guess that there will be very few viewers of these discs not deeply touched by the interview segments.

How about the teaching of the routines and sleights?
Here, something is in evidence that was obvious also on earlier releases. Lavand prefers being a 'maestro' to being a teacher. As he defines it at the beginning of the teaching segment, a teacher will pass on knowledge, but a master will give you orientation and point you the way. In Lavand's case, this process consists mainly in slowed-down performances of his routines and moves (often scarcely more thant a repetition of what we've already seen in the performance segment), while he allows for multiple camera angles, which will show the work from the side and from the performer's perspective. If you are used to the detail of description that is now common in the better works of card magic literature (especially when written by Minch, Kaufman or Giobbi), giving you all the details of grips, pressure points and individual finger movement, you will find none of that here.
This style of teaching his magic was somewhat counteracted on the Meir Yedid dvds by Joe Hernandez, who regularly interrupts Lavand to ask for further explanation. On these dvds, however, Lavand sits alone in a studio and is never prompted for more detail.
Displaying the secret actions from multipe angles is not always a remedy for the lack of explanation. Where stacks are employed, they are displayed on the screen, but it is unfortunate that the explanation of one of Lavand's classics ('Why do the colours alternate?') is ruined by an error in the stack displayed (three cards are missing).

If you truly want to learn some of Lavand's one-handed techniques and routines, I would therefore recommend the Meir Yedid set over this one. Or, even better, buy René Lavand's books 'Magic From The Soul' and 'The Mysteries Of My Life' (the latter co-written with Richard Kaufman, which makes for especially clear descriptions).

However, if you want to see the best available recordings of René Lavand's magic and the most revealing and in-depth interviews about his life and magic, look no further.
Message: Posted by: Stapper (Feb 22, 2013 04:31PM)
Thank you very well for this review!!!!
Marvelous presentation, great timing, unbelieveble sleight of hand: one hand !!!

Here the youtube of Contrapunto, great!

Thanks for the great pleasure of watching a master ....
Message: Posted by: Atom3339 (Feb 23, 2013 02:02AM)
Excellent, as mentioned above.

One thing not mentioned is the background music; an endless loop. AND there are times other music is added-----lterally layered on top; two different songs in two different keys. Playing at the same time. TERRIBLE editing! Best to turn the audio off during those times, as you read the sub-titles anyway.

The set really gives you the essence of the man and his magic.
Message: Posted by: motown (Feb 23, 2013 10:09AM)
I love to be able to buy the first disc just to watch his wonderful performances.
Message: Posted by: asherfox (Feb 24, 2013 12:42PM)
Thank your for the review.
Message: Posted by: Cristian Vidrascu (Sep 28, 2020 11:26PM)
Hi, is El Griego (the Greek) not taught on this DVD set? I am thinking of buying it, but I am really fond of that routine.
Message: Posted by: Tilman (Sep 30, 2020 11:35AM)
Hi Cristian,
it’s been a long time since I last watched these DVDs, but going by my notes above it seems to be the first routine on disk 3. I think all routines called ‘signature compositions’ are not just performed, but taught as well.