The notes to this DVD state that Celibidache enjoyed good relationships with radio orchestras because it allowed him greater time for rehearsals. The performance captured on this DVD is Celibidache's 1969 performance with the RAI's Turin Symphony Orchestra.
In this performance, he takes only 62 minutes to construct Bruckner's great aural edifice and not the 77 minutes that he took later - and which can be experienced on CD (see my review elsewhere on Amazon). Nevertheless, it is interesting to see the man in action, but a shame that the audience started to applaud before he laid down his arms at the end. The obligatory ovation follows, but do we also hear `boos'?
The sound is two-track mono. It's not brilliant and can sound fragile in upper registers, but it's very clear all the same and should not put you off buying this DVD.
The picture is black and white and in 4:3 dimensions. The camerawork can be haphazard on occasions.
He conducts with no score, and the notes that accompany the disc tell us that he rarely used the score in rehearsals either. Indeed, the booklet is of immense value in providing background information about Celibidache's history as well as about Bruckner's 9th. Written by Misha Donat, the articles together cover 8½ closely-spaced pages and can be heartily recommended.
Alas, this DVD has no extras.
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I have had little exposure to the recordings of Celibidache. I've never heard the only two recordings he willingly made in a studio, nor have I heard very many of the flood of recordings -- mostly from radio broadcasts -- that entered full spate after his death. (He had famously said that he didn't trust recordings to convey the acoustic experience of a performance as experienced in the hall, and he was exceedingly concerned about fitting a performance to the acoustic of the particular hall in which it took place.) But we have been assaulted with the legend of Celi and I must admit that one could be a bit put off by that, as many speak of him as if he were godlike. Further, I recently saw a DVD that showed him rehearsing an orchestra and I was startled and offended by his condescending manner toward the orchestral musicians.
However I have found this DVD of a 1967 performance of Bruckner's Ninth Symphony -- with a second-tier orchestra, filmed in black-and-white, and with less than wonderful mono sound -- to be an uplifting experience. And that's not just because that is often the effect of ANY halfway decent performance of this symphony. This performance is something special. It's hard to put my finger on why it is. Tempi are broad -- paradoxically so in the second movement Scherzo -- and within that lingering approach one hears the most amazing but natural-sounding adjustments of pulse and phrasing. One can sense that the orchestra of Radio Turin is playing above itself. There are the occasional raucous, even out-of-tune chords from the brass and some lack of ensemble among the strings, but generally the blending and suavity of tone is quite something to hear.Read more ›
While I have little to add to the reviews on the Bruckner symphony, these have been eloquently displayed here by my collegues, I hasten to disagree about the statement: 'no extras'. Indeed one would not know it since it doesn't say on the DVD cover or anywhere else, but there IS an extra and a marvellous one at that. It's one of the Clouzot films of Karajan conducting Mozart: Violin Concerto No.5 in A major with Yehudi Menuhin as soloist, showing the young Karajan in top form graciously leading the strings of the Vienna Symphony.Menuhin produces wonderful sweet tones on his Stradivarius and the two artist have great chemistry together. The performance takes place in a Baroque drawing room of a Viennese palace and it is resplendent visually. I should warn you that it's extremely difficult to find this gem on the disc because it doesn't show on the menu and you really have to hunt for it on your DVD player. If you play it on your computer it's much easier: just right-click and click 'go to' and the click Title 2.
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