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Celibidache Conducts Ravel & Debussy

Ravel / Debussy / Mpo / Celibidache
Release Date: 04/29/2008 
Label:  Euroarts   Catalog #: 3077968  
Composer:  Maurice RavelClaude Debussy
Conductor:  Sergiu Celibidache
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



DEBUSSY Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. Images: Iberia. RAVEL Boléro. Rapsodie espagnole. Miroirs: Alborado del gracioso Sergiu Celibidache, cond; Munich PO EUROARTS 3077968 (DVD: 101:00) Live: Cologne 5/13–14/1994


Music turns me into someone else: I forget how good it is, and then I watch something like this DVD. There Read more are no extras, just live footage of Celi and the players. He’s often seen from the orchestra’s point of view, and he directs them while perched on a high chair, in the amphitheater-like Philharmonie in Cologne, just two years before his death. The booklet notes make an interesting claim: “Probably no one has ever performed these works with comparable perfection.” Well, at 16 minutes, probably no one has ever conducted the Prélude quite so slowly. For the whole orchestra, it’s like a slow-motion traversal of a high wire. It’s an amazing balancing act, and they seem relieved when it’s over, but it’s their achievement to speak the work in a single breath of yogic proportions. Toscanini, equally “perfect,” would have got through it at least twice, in that time. Ansermet, Boulez, Monteux, Stokowski are all unforgettable in the Prélude , evoking languor, sensuality, and occasionally sexual menace. With Celibidache, there’s a hint of Parsifal , married to an impression of impossible beauty, something only music could describe.


Celibidache’s tempos in “Iberia” are still more impossible (30 minutes), the other works more or less extreme, in parts. He clearly loves these pieces, which is good, because he needs to back up his claim that French conductors had no idea how to direct them. The players seem to know they’ll be in big trouble if they do not deliver, and for the most part, they do, with just the odd hiccup. Celi rewards them by encouraging the orchestra to take the applause, while his back’s still turned to the audience. I won’t spoil any more of the little visual details for you, or tell you when he seems less than happy: the video is well directed, mostly showing either the conductor, or an apt soloist. There aren’t many long shots, and the audience members behave themselves. They seem unaware “Alborado” has ended (a lively, excellent reading), but they go (relatively) wild after the Rapsodie.


The “Féria” and all of “Iberia” seem much bigger works than usual, and it’s not all down to slow speeds and careful execution. This music’s as important as any symphony, and the originality and cogency seem remarkably clear from the Munich players, but in no way Germanic. Celibidache does not aim for the spectacular and tense atmospherics Fritz Reiner generated in his RCA recordings of French music, but he exerts a similarly hypnotic grip. “Les parfums de la nuit” and the Ravel “Habanera” almost achieve stasis, and if you don’t like this kind of approach, they’ll sound like half-speed rehearsals to you.


I like these versions very much. They steer each work away from travelogue evocation, towards something deeper, but never dull. Excellent horn-playing, along with dedicated work from the whole wind section, lead “Les parfums” to an exalted, string-led climax, suggesting lovers who have all night to savor the scents. The lack of hustle and bustle in the brief finale is daring, but the trance-like beauty seems all the more compelling, after one of those nights. Boléro is Boléro : 20 minutes, inexorable, no caricatures, just rich colors, like flower garlands and banners, borne aloft by an endless slow-stepping procession. Goodness, waxing poetic about Boléro ! Sound is well balanced in a lovely acoustic; picture is good TV quality. A revelation. More!


FANFARE: Paul Ingram
REGION CODE: 0 (all)
PICTURE FORMAT: NTSC, 4:3
SOUND FORMATS: DD 2.1 Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Boléro by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Sergiu Celibidache
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; France 
2.
Miroirs: Alborada del gracioso by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Sergiu Celibidache
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1904-1905; France 
3.
Rapsodie espagnole by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Sergiu Celibidache
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907-1908; France 
4.
Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Sergiu Celibidache
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1892-1894; France 
5.
Images for Orchestra: no 2, Ibéria by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Sergiu Celibidache
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1905-1908; France 

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