Gerard Hoffnung CDs
Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
Orchestra Sinfonica di Torino
della RAI/Sergiu Celibidache
Filmed in Turin, 1969.
Picture format 4:3.
Black and white.
LPCM Mono sound
OPUS ARTE OA0977D [58:00]
It’s good to have the recording-reticent Celibidache
on film, but couldn’t we have had the rehearsal? In performance
he is far less impressive, his negative style of conducting,
always exhorting players to play quieter in his quest for
perfect balance and ideal acoustic, his left arm stiff, his
long index finger always pointing at someone. His face has
two expressions, the one frowning and pain-etched, making
him for all the world look like a Red Indian who’s lost yet
another battle with John Wayne, while the other carries a
smug smile of satisfaction as he occasionally achieves a
nuance here or a detail there.
The television direction is appalling; how any director
could omit any sort of shot of the E flat clarinet playing
the Witches’ Sabbath finale of the Sinfonie fantastique is
totally incomprehensible; not even the piccolo gets a look-in.
In the slow movement Scène aux champs the cor anglais player
is overshot, it’s just not that interesting, but with no
hint of where the echo oboist might be and no shot of Celibidache
here. There’s nothing else for it, it has to be this rather
po-faced (occupational hazard) gentleman. Celibidache’s tempi
might raise some eyebrows, the Marche au supplice (March
to the Scaffold) is a slow one, whilst the Bacchanale only
lets rip coming down the final furlong. It’s all performed
in a Blake’s 7 style hall with the conductor on a stepped
podium on which he seems to be trapped - no opportunity to
join in the waltz with the two lady harpists in Le Bal.
The players of 1969 look fairly miserable and ill at ease.
Celibidache himself has clearly had a bad hair day, indeed
when he returns for his ovation he appears to have gone through
a car wash using Brylcreem instead of water and without the
It’s a valuable record and I can probably answer my
own question posted at the start of this review. Given his
demanding requirements for rehearsal time, it would probably
have run to three DVDs if they had filmed that instead, but
how much more interesting it would have been.
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