Aureole etc.




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

REVIEW



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 

alternatively
MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
Symphony no. 5 in B flat major (1876) [87:15]
Munich Philharmonic Orchestra/Sergiu Celibidache
TV and video director: Klaus Lindemann
rec. Gasteig, Munich, 1985
Sound formats: PCM stereo, DD 5.1
Picture format: 4:3
Region code: 0
DVD9; NTSC
ARTHAUS MUSIK 101639 [90:00]

Experience Classicsonline



 
Cast your eyes over Romanian conductor Sergiu Celibidache’s Wikipedia entry and you will find a link to a web page that is entitled, rather provocatively, Sergiu Celibidache - The Last of the Mad Genius Conductors? 
As that page can no longer be accessed, we’ll never know what conclusion its author ultimately arrived at. It’s certainly true that the recent resurgence of interest in Celibidache has polarised opinion. To some he is a revered conductor of unparalleled depth and intensity who, thanks to a highly individual philosophical-musicological approach, reveals scores in a unique enlightening fashion. To others he is a rather dull interpreter who frequently adopts the slowest possible tempi for no discernable reason at all.
 
The writer of the booklet notes for this release, the distinguished German actor and theatrical director Gerd Udo Feller, immediately allies himself with the “genius” school of thought. “On this DVD”, he writes, “a human universe can be seen and heard, a universe that unfolds within us, that is the inner experience of the consciousness in the act of freeing itself, that is the innermost movement of consciousness as music…”
 
Herr Feller is clearly writing for an audience that he assumes is au fait with Celibidache’s philosophy. Only that would explain such further observations as this: “(Celibidache) was an obsessive when it came to this inner experience, which is a musical experience of freedom, an experience of consciousness that follows a law within us: make the Many your own; in your consciousness, lead the Many back to your experience of the One; integrate them; be free again for a new encounter with the world.”
 
Enough, though, of the sort of language more usually encountered in Private Eye magazine’s Pseuds’ Corner. What can we actually see, hear and judge for ourselves on this DVD?
 
We hear the music - and, true to form, Celibidache to some extent lives up to his own reputation.
 
At the opening of the first movement, even the simplest musical phrases are (over)imbued with portentous gravity and tension, while the consequent lack of propulsive power makes the score sound essentially disjointed. As a result, the closing orchestral peroration seems to come out of nowhere and to lack much relationship to what’s gone on before. With the adoption of a greater consistency of pulse, the second movement is much more successful, with Celibidache drawing some wonderfully ecstatic sounds from the strings. After a particularly driven and successful scherzo, the finale - once again characterised by a disjointed opening - quickly gets into gear. The Munich orchestra’s skilled players achieve the wide dynamic range that the score demands and are shown in a very positive light.
 
We could have appreciated the playing just by listening to a CD recording of the same forces (see here and here). The bonus offered by DVD is that it enables us to see - from the orchestra’s point of view rather than that of the audience - exactly how a conductor acts physically so as to achieve the end result in performance.
 
Celibidache was 73 years old at the date of this recording, and in general resembled nothing so much as a rather stately Buddha. He is, nonetheless, in full command on the podium and communicates his instructions effectively to the players. A well-turned phrase from the violins is rewarded by a smile of appreciation; a conductorly eyebrow is raised to query something not quite, perhaps, to his liking; we see an occasional scowl - there are good examples at 27:08, 27:14, 49:54 and 84:04. Once in a while, when this meticulously prepared conductor is caught out by something unexpected, he gives a frightening glare (20:20) that is sometimes accompanied by a vicious slap of the air. I enjoyed, too, watching the moment when he comes to a complete physical halt and stands with his arms at his sides, just listening and giving no direction whatsoever (5:00 until 5:11) while the orchestra plays blithely on. When he needs to lighten the mood - as the scherzo succeeds the adagio, for instance - Celibidache smiles profusely. When he needs to drive the orchestra onwards in the closing pages of the finale, he shouts or sings along with them for a bar or two.
 
If the medium of film allows us to learn something about the conductor, it is generally less revealing about the orchestra. I came away, in fact, with only two particular and rather inconsequential visual impressions. The first was that far too many players - following the conductor’s shameful example and the Zeitgeist of the 1980s - badly needed haircuts. The second was that the timpanist, who is put into the solo spotlight several times by the director, looks so young that you’d think he was on a work experience assignment from school.
 
The visual medium also allows us to see the hall. Performance spaces and their individual characteristics were very important in Celibidache’s philosophy of music-making. The Gasteig - which had only opened its doors for the first time in the year of this performance - is a very attractive modern hall with, as far as we can judge here, fine acoustics. This concert attracted a well-heeled audience, with a woman in the second row, presumably unfamiliar with concert-hall etiquette, actually sporting a rather à la mode hat. Apart from a rather bronchial end to the adagio, by which time they’d kept remarkably quiet for the previous 23 minutes, the audience members are commendably silent.
 
Klaus Lindemann’s direction for TV and video is fine, with visual cues generally fitting the music well. I did, though, wonder whether he had enough cameras at his disposal as the variety of shots is quite limited. We see lots of the wind and brass players, both individually and collectively, as well as the precocious boy-timpanist, but shots of the strings are comparatively rare. In fact, it was quite a shock when, as late as 65:10, a new camera angle showed us, for the first time, the double basses and cellos en masse in a prolonged shot.
 
On the technical side of things, my review copy of the disc exhibited a slight degree of picture distortion at 8:36 and a very tiny hint of picture judder at 41:08. It is worth noting that those issues may just affect my copy. Beyond that, this is a perfectly acceptable piece of video recording for its age, though if your own home technology includes access to (1) high definition TV broadcasts, (2) Blu-ray quality discs, or (3) a large-screen TV that magnifies any deficiencies in less than tip-top quality material, you will quickly be aware of its 1985 vintage.
 
Incidentally, during the DVD’s closing credits you will encounter the spelling “Celebidache” with an E as the fourth letter. Admittedly, that is how the conductor’s son spells the family name these days, but I’m lining up with the DVD cover and general practice by sticking with the spelling that I’ve used throughout this review.
 
You know how sometimes someone will tell you a funny story about themselves - except that it isn’t funny and you end up apologising for failing to laugh by saying “You probably had to be there…” Well, that, in a nutshell, was Celibidache’s philosophy when it came to musical performance. To simplify it greatly, he believed in the singular individuality of every venue, every audience and every performance. Thus, he thought that recordings on LP or CD were incapable of reproducing a concert’s specific atmosphere and the experience it offered. It was, therefore, only reluctantly that he agreed to films being made of some of his later performances.
 
This interesting DVD has made me wonder whether he was right after all. Maybe, to appreciate the full Sergiu Celibidache experience, it’s not enough to watch him on TV.
 
Perhaps you really had to be there…
 
Rob Maynard
 
Masterwork Index: Bruckner 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools






Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.