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Carlos KLEIBER – in Rehearsal
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786 – 1826)

Der Freischutz - Overture (1821)
Johann STRAUSS II (1825 – 1899)

Die Fledermaus - Overture (1874)
Sudfunk Sinfonieorchester (Stuttgart)/Carlos Kleiber
recorded in 1970 (DVD)
TDK DV DOCCK [102 minutes]



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Carlos Kleiber is something of a recluse when it comes to public display of his many talents. TDK is to be congratulated in making this very satisfying film available to the general music lover. It was made some time ago, (1970), when the conductor was only some 40 years young. Son of the famous Erich Kleiber, Carlos has had a glittering career, even more so since he intentionally restricts his appearances, making it an even bigger event when he does actually appear. He was born in Berlin in 1930, and when his father resigned from his position of Music Director of the German State Opera in Berlin in 1935, the Kleiber family emigrated to Argentina. He had much of his education there and in Chile. In 1949, he moved to Zurich to study chemistry, but music took over, and he returned to Buenos Aires in 1950 to continue with his music studies. At this time, his mentors were Arturo Toscanini, Fritz Busch and Bruno Walter. He began conducting at the theatre in La Plata in 1952. He then moved to Europe and held various posts in a number of German regional opera houses until 1978. There were a few guest conducting engagements but he limited these to the absolute minimum. His guest appearances have included Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Edinburgh and London.

He was also the prime candidate to succeed Herbert von Karajan in Berlin, but he declined this position. The current intervals between his concerts are to be measured in years, rather than the usual weeks or months. So it is a considerable scoop for TDK to allow us to eavesdrop on one of his rehearsal sessions. This disc is particularly successful as although the two pieces involved are both relatively short, we also get to hear the results of the rehearsal in concert – something that many rehearsal discs do not do.

Kleiber’s rehearsal style is to dissect a work into tiny pieces, rehearse these, and then put them back together to make the complete work. It must be an extremely tiring experience for the orchestra, but the marvel is, that as the rehearsal continues, you can hear the performance growing to its full potential. Rather than becoming switched off, the players become more and more committed to what they are doing as the rehearsal progresses.

His reputation as a stickler for perfection is well known. He has been known to lay down his baton, storm out and head for the airport at the merest hint of discord or trouble. London concert promoters have yet to forgive a music critic whose negative reviews of Kleiber’s London appearances caused him to operate what is now a 23 year embargo on appearing in London. At Covent Garden, for example, he demanded seventeen rehearsals of La Bohème, six of which were for the orchestra alone.

He appears over-sensitive and very reserved to outsiders, but put him in front of an orchestra and the change is extraordinary. He described a melody in the Strauss as "This is highly perfumed. A beautiful woman – with long legs. She is looking down on us just a little. But that makes her all the more delightful." The orchestral musicians smile but know exactly what he is looking for and translate the image into sound. In many treatises on conducting, it is often said "do not waste time talking to the orchestra – they know better than the conductor just what is required." Maybe so, but here is the exception that proves the rule – an enthralling disc.

The film is shot in black and white, with mono sound, but after about a few minutes, this is no longer a problem, so gripping is the material.

John Phillips

 

 



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British Music Soc.
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Nimbus
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Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


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