One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

16th-19th November

Shostakovich 4, 11 Nelsons
Transparent Granite!

Nothing but Praise

BrucKner 4 Nelsons
the finest of recent years.

superb BD-A sound

This is a wonderful set

Telemann continues to amaze

A superb disc

Performances to cherish

An extraordinary disc.

rush out and buy this

I favour above all the others

Frank Martin - Exemplary accounts

Asrael Symphony
A major addition

Another Bacewicz winner

match any I’ve heard

An outstanding centenary collection

personable, tuneful, approachable

a very fine Brahms symphony cycle.

music that will be new to most people

telling, tough, thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded

hitherto unrecorded Latvian music


Plain text for smartphones & printers

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from

Sergiu Celibidache - Firebrand and Philosopher - A film by Norbert Busè
Bonus items: Celibidache conducts Beethoven’s Egmont Overture with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, 1950
Extended interviews with Daniel Barenboim, Michael Ballhaus and Irina-Paraschiva Celibidachi
Picture: NTSC 16:9; Sound: PCM Stereo; Format: NTSC; Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Audio languages: English, German
Subtitles: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Korean
ARTHAUS 101661 [53:00 (documentary) + 30:00 (bonus)]

I have to admit to being a fanatical worshipper of Celibidache’s work. Yes, I know that his slow tempi aren’t to everyone’s taste but I love his slavish attention to detail, articulation and balance. He detested mediocrity but the downsides for many orchestras were his demands on their time and the requirement for what they often viewed as excessive rehearsals.
Norbert Busè's film portrait clearly demonstrates the conductor’s love of music and his lack of interest in wealth and celebrity. It also explores Celibidache’s childhood through the reminiscences of his sister. There is one especially poignant moment: having packed his bags to leave home as a 25 year old to pursue a musical career in Berlin, this was the last time he ever saw his father. He wanted the young Sergiu to follow another pathway and was very set against his son choosing music.
The film draws on documentation from the Berlin Academy of Music Archives along with interviews with family, students and admirers, including Daniel Barenboim. Considerable footage is devoted to his conducting classes - Celibidache’s idea of a 3 week annual holiday was to devote himself to teaching others. His general approach to his students was to knock them down first, make them rethink what they were doing on the podium and then build them up.
There are short, tantalising glimpses of him in action, including the Prelude to Tristan, Stravinsky’s Firebird, Mozart’s Requiem, Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel, Bruckner 9 and Tchaikovsky 5. There’s also a complete Egmont overture with the Berlin Philharmonic as an enjoyable bonus.
Celibidache was catapulted to fame when, during Furtwängler’s absence after the war, he took charge of the Berlin Philharmonic. He was inexperienced and stubborn. The orchestra eventually turned against him and appointed Karajan as Furtwängler’s successor in 1955. Celibidache had no time for the commercial world - including the recording studio - but Karajan was the supreme modern maestro and salesman. This was a bitter blow to Celibidache but he finally ended his spiritual journey with a golden 17 year spell at the Munich Philharmonic, starting in 1979, where he totally transformed the orchestra.
The interviewees all talk warmly about the great man but offer nothing new. The musical extracts are too short to show us what he actually did during rehearsals and in performance. As a Celibidache lover I found it moderately interesting but nothing very special. To find out what Celibidache was really about, to try to track down a Euro Arts DVD which contains an extensive, totally riveting rehearsal of Till Eulenspiegel with the Stuttgart RSO. Over and above that, just search out and listen to some of the CDs that were issued after he died to experience some fantastic live music-making. I’m sorry to be so lukewarm about this DVD.
John Whitmore