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Sergiu Celibidache : The Berlin Recordings
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Description du produit
As a conductor, Sergiu Celibidache influenced as no other the musical life of Berlin, a metropolis still scarred by the war. The sound documents of this edition, most of which have not been previously released, for the first time paint a comprehensive picture of the conductor during the period between 1945 and 1957. These historic documents, providing new impressions of the legendary conductor, were revealed after intensive research. Unlike in the elegiac, lyrical interpretations of Celibidache s mature period, he also reveals a youthful, boisterous side in these recordings. However, his later development is already also perceptible, as for instance in the Chopin recording with Raoul Koczalsky. The conductor s stamping and singing in the incomplete studio recording of Beethoven s Seventh Symphony, on the other hand, clearly demonstrates his fiery and passionate temperament. This recording is added as a bonus disc. This edition is exclusively based on certified sound documents, i.e. original tapes preserved today in the archives of Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (rbb) and the Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv Babelsberg (DRA). Fragments and tapes whose technical condition does not allow publication were not considered. Also not considered were non-licensed on-air copies from the grey market (as for instance Shostakovich s Seventh Symphony). The booklet contains extensive editorial comments, including those concerning partially missing bars or movements on the original tapes. Barber Capricorn Concerto 1950, Beethoven Leonore Overture III 1946, Symphony No. 7 (fragment) 1957 Berlioz Le Corsaire 1947, Le carnaval romain 1947, Bizet Symphony No. 1 1953, Brahms Symphony No. 4 1945, Britten Sinfonia da Requiem 1946, Busoni Berceuse élégiaque 1945, Chávez R. Sinfonia de Antigona 1950 Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2 1948, Copland Appalachian Spring 1950, Cui In modo populari 1945 Debussy La Mer 1947, Jeux 1948, Fêtes 1946, Diamond Rounds 1950, Dvorák Cello Concerto 1945 Glazunov Carnaval 1945, Glière Concerto for Soprano 1946, Haydn Symphony No. 94 1946, Symphony No. 104 1959 MacDowell Romance 1945, Mendelssohn Symphony No. 4 1953, Melusine 1945, Milhaud Suite française 1951 Suite symphonique 1949, Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5 1950, Piston Symphony No. 2 1950 Prokofiev Symphony No. 1 1946, Romeo & Juliet 1946, Purcell King Arthur Suite 1945, Raphael Symphony No. 4 1950, Rimsky-Korsakov Russian Easter Festival Overture 1945 Roussel Petite Suite 1945, Saint-Saëns Samson & Dalilah 1946, Shostakovich Symphony No. 9 1947 Stephan Musik für Orchester 1949, Strauss Till Eulenspiegel 1947, Stravinsky Jeu de cartes 1950 Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 2 1950, Romeo & Juliet 1946, Tiessen Vorspiel 1946 Vivaldi Violin Concerto RV 210 1953, Wolf Five songs 1946
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[hint: for ease of navigation, read the review though to the end, then come back and click on the links.]
Back in 2011, Audite issued a 3 CD box of Celibidache's Berlin recordings: Edition Sergiu Celibidache - Comp Rias Recordings
7 Berlin Philharmonic recordings and one Berlin Radio Symphony recording.
Press release: "For this edition the original tapes from RIAS archives have been made available for the first time, which means that these CDs offer the highest possible technical quality....This Celibidache edition comprises the entire stock of original tapes recorded between 1948 and (1953) which are kept in the archives of Deutschlandradio".
Apparently they didn't look hard enough, because since then they found an additional 44 recordings in the Deutschlandradio archives, which are released in the present 13 CD box.
You need both boxes, so I will pretend that they are one big 16 CD collection: 52 recordings, made between 1945 and 1953.
42 with the Berlin Philharmonic and 10 with the Berlin Radio Symphony.
Following World War II, Wilhelm Furtwangler was banned from conducting the Berlin Philharmonic for two years. During this time, Celibidache was in sole command of the orchestra.
Furtwangler returned on May 25, 1947, but only as principal guest conductor.
This arrangement lasted for five years, until Furtwangler was re-instated as Music Director in 1952.
Then Celibidache stayed on as guest conductor.
Audite has also issued a 12 CD box of Furtwangler's broadcasts, 1947-1954: Furtwangler: Live In Berlin (The Complete RIAS Recordings) - or - Edition Wilhelm Furtwängler - The Complete RIAS Recordings
- There was surprisingly little overlap in the post-war Berlin Philharmonic repertoires of Celibidache and Furtwangler.
Only Brahms' Symphony 4 , Debussy's Fetes from Trois Nocturnes, and Richard Strauss' Til Eulenspiegel.
Furtwangler died on November 30, 1954.
Celibidache conducted his final concert with the Berlin Philharmonic on the day that Furtwangler died.
Furtwangler's successor, Herbert von Karajan would have nothing to do with Celibidache.
It wasn't until 1992, after Karajan's death, that Celibidache returned to the Philharmonic: Celibidache conducts Bruckner: Symphony No. 7 [Blu-ray] - or - Bruckner: Symphony No. 7
Of the 52 Celibidache recordings, 1945-1953, only 6 were made during public concerts, at the Titania-Palast.
46 performances were recorded in the studio of Radio Berlin, for later broadcast.
One composition was recorded twice: Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring, recorded "live" on April 4, 1950, and in the studio two days later. Both are included.
Celibidache's repertoire reflected the political reality of life in post-war Berlin.
Between 1945 and 1947 he conducted a lot of Russian music: Not just Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky, but also Cui, Glazunov, Gliere, Prokofiev and Shostakovich (7th and 9th Symphonies).
After 1947 he dropped the Russians and switched to the Americans: Barber, Copland, Diamond, Gershwin, and Piston (2nd Symphony).
Peaceful co-existence: The Russian-born, naturalized American Igor Stravinsky was programmed in 1950 ("Jeu de cartes").
Amazon has considerately provided a photo of the back of each box, where the contents are listed.
There is one glaring omission: Shostakovich's 7th Symphony "Leningrad" (Berlin PO - December 22, 1946).
The original master tape is missing from the Berlin Radio archives:
"Fragments and tapes whose technical condition does not allow publication were not considered. Also not considered were non-licensed on-air copies from the grey market, as for instance the recording of Shostakovich's 7th Symphony of 22 December 1946 whose original tape cannot be traced at the present time."
The producers passed up the chance to give us an absolutely complete edition because of this short-sighted thinking.
The Shostakovich 7th is available: Berliner Philarmoniker plays: Music for the Royal Fireworks, Water Music, Pastoral, Eroica, Leningrad...
The sound is not as good as these studio tapes, but it is listenable.
The "Leningrad Symphony" is a celebration of the Soviet Army's defeat of the German Army, which happened barely four years before this broadcast.
Must have pleased the Soviet occupiers of Berlin.
Kind of sticking it to the audience, though.
Worth seeking out.
- As an appendix, the collection includes a 1957 broadcast by the Berlin Radio Symphony, which marked Celibidache's return to Berlin, four years after leaving the Philharmonic: Three works by his mentor Heinz Tiessen + Beethoven's 7th Symphony (minus the finale - the tape is incomplete).
Sergiu Celibidache was not the first choice to succeed Wilhelm Furtwangler.
That honor went to Leo Borchard (1899-1945), who conducted the first post-war concert of the orchestra on May 26, 1945, barely three weeks after the surrender.
He was not one of the top ten candidates for the job of Music Director, but the top ten candidates all had troublesome connections to the former regime.
Borchard was a life-long leftist - he was banned from conducting by the Nazis in 1935, but remained in Germany as a music coach and teacher.
Apparently he had ties to the Resistance, but remained under the radar of the Third Reich.
Unlike every previous Music Director, who had been elected by the orchestra, Borchard was appointed - by the Soviet authorities.
He conducted 22 concerts with the Berlin Philharmonic before being shot dead by an American soldier on August 24.
He was a passenger in a car that ran an Allied roadblock
(The booklet with the Celibidache Edition claims that Borchard was shot dead while riding a bicycle - this is contrary to every other account, including that of his wife who was also a passenger in the car. I guess the bicycle story just makes it seem more pathetic).
His complete 1945 recordings with the Berlin Philharmonic - music of Glazunov, Tchaikovsky and Weber - can be found on a Tahra CD: Leo Borchard 1899-1945
Borchard was snubbed by the Berlin Philharmonic in 2006 when they issued a 12 CD box to celebrate themselves: Berliner Philharmoniker - Im Takt der Zeit
Celibidache was picked to be his successor by a committee of the four Allied powers, not just the Soviet Union.
He was probably the least qualified candidate for the job.
During the war Celibidache was a Roumanian music student in Berlin with no known political beliefs (Roumania was allied with Germany).
He had barely one month of professional conducting experience when he was selected for one of the most prestigious positions in the musical world.
By all rights this should have been a disaster, but Celibidache turned out to have a remarkable natural talent.
Furtwangler was his conducting idol, and late in life Celibidache morphed into something of a Stereo Furtwangler for his Munich Philharmonic recordings (EMI).
At this early stage in his career, however, he sounded a lot more like the young Karajan - which might explain why Karajan was so determined to be rid of him.
In all candor, if these early Berlin recordings were all we had to go on, Celibidache would not enjoy the exalted reputation he does today.
Far more important are the "live" recordings he made later in life: in the 1970's with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony (DG), and between 1980 and 1995 with the Munich Philharmonic (EMI).
Both Borchard and Celibidache were snubbed in 2013 when DG issued a 50 CD box to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Berlin Philharmonic: Centenary Edition: 100 Years of Great Music 1913
But they had an excuse: neither conductor made recordings recordings for DG.
The Klang is back and how!
More than usual, mine are a few rambling thoughts. I direct your attention to John Quinn’s magnificent (and indeed, systematic) review on Musicweb. Read it. Like the Baptist, it bears witness to the truth.
This is revelatory. In terms of impact, it’s not dissimilar to Edition Hans Knappertsbusch & Bpo: Comp Rias Rec. Little of it prefigures the Turtle of later years. Ferocity and vitality, suppleness and fervour are leitmotivs. For sure, Celi and the Berlin Phil perform this assemblage in a homologous fashion – but who gives cares when the results are so overwhelming and transfigurative? It’s hard to know where to start. What a modernist Celibidache was in his youth! Walter Piston’s Second Symphony (amazing stuff)! Britten’s Sinfonia de Requiem, hot from the presses! Shostakovich’s Ninth Symphony! Stravinsky’s Card Game! Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suite! Roussel’s Petite Suite! Barber’s Capricorn Concerto! Milhaud’s French Suite! And at the other end of the spectrum, Purcell’s King Arthur Suite is featured – don’t hold your breath in wait for the Berlin Phil to perform it a second time (and in this neo-Brucknerian fashion). Indeed, if my good friend Giordano Bruno, the High Priest of Period Practice on Amazon, were to hear this “abomination of desolation”, he’d enact his prepper plan on the spot and take to the hills.
Horn fluffs aside, behold the prelude of Dvorak’s Cello Concerto and then ask yourself: were Abbado and Rattle ever able to conjure such plenitude? Answer: not as far as I know. And the great reprise from the orchestra at 11’17ff in the first movement compels one to fall to one’s knees in awe (akin to its counterpart in Karajan’s recording from September 1968 with Rostropovich). Much the same could be of the first movement of the Romeo and Juliet Suite: grab ‘em by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow. And while we’re at it, check out the reprise in the slow movement of the Surprise Symphony: nuclear fusion is possible. Elsewhere, it’s commonly agreed that Furtwängler’s 1943 performance of Brahms’ Fourth is the greatest in existence. I subscribe to this view. Nevertheless, this is a silver medallist or thereabouts. It’s an evil mother-fornicator - just what you want in the B4.
I don’t have any problems with the mono recordings. They have depth to their name. There’s little or none of the EMI boxy-ness from the Fifties.
Forgive Uncle Sergiu for his orgasmic cry at the climax of La Mer’s first movement. Your reaction, here and elsewhere, will be identical. Bring the rain - and here it is and torrentially so!