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Sergiu Celibidache Conducts Schubert & Schumann

Schubert / Schumann / Rai Sym Orch / Celibidache
Release Date: 01/25/2011 
Label:  Idi   Catalog #: 6607   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Franz SchubertRobert Schumann
Conductor:  Sergiu Celibidache
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Rome
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 59 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SCHUBERT Symphony No. 8. SCHUMANN Symphony No. 2 Sergiu Celibidache, cond; Rome RAI O IDIS 6607, mono (59:16) Live: Rome 3/11/1958 & 3/18/1960

Sergiu Celibidache is notoriously a conductor whose interpretations have elicited strong reactions, both pro and con. For every fan who has found his emphasis on the spontaneity of the moment utterly absorbing, there are critics who have found him willfully perverse, particularly in his adoption with Read more age of increasingly slow, even glacial, tempi. Here, however, are two performances from his earlier years before the traits now thought to be characteristic of him fully emerged—before Celibidache became Celibidache, as it were. Both works are given enjoyable interpretations that fall well within mainstream interpretive practice; tempi are moderate with no unusual or abrupt shifts, and there are no eccentricities in dynamics or balancing of orchestral choirs. The most prominent characteristic of both renditions is their decidedly lyrical cast; they are Elysian rather than Apollonian, let alone Dionysian, in mood, eschewing drama and heaven-storming climaxes. Both also begin a bit slowly and then are subsequently brought up to full tempo in their first movements. The Schubert performance is solid and straightforward, requiring no further particular comment. Schumann is the more interesting of the two, if for no other reason than that there are far fewer genuinely good performances of it than of the Schubert. While the tricky transition from the opening Sostenuto assai to the following Allegro ma non troppo is miscalculated—Celibidache simply perseveres with the initial slower tempo without change through the entire bridge passage—it then finds its proper footing, even if the Scherzo is a bit slow for my taste. The Adagio is songlike rather than dirgelike, and the brisk finale comes with an Italianate lilt that is perhaps not entirely Schumannesque but nonetheless effective on its own terms. While the Rome RAI Orchestra is clearly not a top-tier ensemble, Celibidache coaxes results from it a notch above its usual performance caliber. The recorded sound in both performances is somewhat boxy—the timpani at the end of the Schumann consequently lack punch—but clear and listenable, better than many surviving broadcasts from the same period. The booklet provides only performance dates and locations, timings, and a headshot photo of the conductor.

At present this is the only Celibidache performance of the Schubert I can find in circulation, so Celibidache collectors will definitely want this CD. At 35:43 this version of the Schumann is almost eight minutes faster than the conductor’s elephantine traversal of 43: 39 from 1994 with the Munich Philharmonic, an EMI CD available as an ArkivCD reissue. Respective movement timings are 11:27, 6:39, 10:30, and 7: 07 vs. 13:11, 8:11, 13:03, and 9:14. While the Munich performance naturally has much superior sound, I agree completely with those who find the imposition of a Brucknerian aesthetic on this work interpretively insupportable. For all those except die-hard fans of the Romanian maestro’s valedictory years, this offering is clearly the one to be preferred.

FANFARE: James A. Altena
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 8 in B minor, D 759 "Unfinished" by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Sergiu Celibidache
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Rome
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1822; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 03/11/1958 
Length: 23 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Symphony no 2 in C major, Op. 61 by Robert Schumann
Conductor:  Sergiu Celibidache
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Rome
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845-1846; Germany 
Date of Recording: 03/18/1960 
Length: 35 Minutes 4 Secs. 

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