The Art Of Conducting: Great Conductors Of The Past [DVD] 
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Subtitles: English, French, German
From the Back Cover
Sixteen of the twentieth centurys greatest conductors are featured in rehearsal and performance. Bonus material includes 45 minutes of previously unseen interviews with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Hugh Bean, Isaac Stern and Suvi Raj Grubb.
With commentary by John Eliot Gardiner, Isaac Stern, Jack Brymer, Sir Thomas Beecham, Yehudi Menuhin, Oliver Knussen, Suvi Raj Grubb, George Szell, Bruno Walter, Otto Klemperer, Hugh Bean, Werner Tharichen, Richard Mohr, Leopold Stokowski, Julius Baker, Herbert von Karajan.
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Top Customer Reviews
This DVD provides the opportunity to see in rehearsal and/or concert such legendary figures as Furtwangler, Mengelburg, Toscanini and our own beloved Beecham and Barbirolli, amongst others. Some of the footage is short, but what we see is extraordinary. The icy glare of Fritz Reiner searching over the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Furtwangler standing there and shaking his arms like a rag doll's, Richard Strauss for all the world looking as though he couldn't care less- radically different approaches yet all somehow getting fantastic responses from their diverse orchestras. This disc examines the variety of approaches, and tries to explain how a conductor weaves his magic. Telepathy seems to be the only explanation...
Sound and picture quality is excellent, especially considering the age of some of the material. Commentary by-especially-Isaac Stern adds further illumination to this fascinating subject. And there's a booklet included.
Just to see these names from the past is a treat. This DVD should be in any self-respecting classical C.D. collection. Snap it up!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In addition to the original documentary (which would have been enough of an inducement to buy this item), you get interviews with Schwarzkopf, Isaac Stern, Hugh Bean (concertmaster or the Philharmonia Orchestra under Klemperer) and Suvi Raj Grubb (EMI classical record producer). So even if you have the video tape edition which was available a few years ago, you may want to "trade up" to this DVD.
If you're a classical music fan (orchestral music, especially), this is definitely worth a look, especially since the conductors represented have been gone for at least 10 years or more; and we certainly won't be seeing their likes again, anytime soon: Beecham (totally charming!), Richard Strauss, Weingartner, Busch, Walter, Klemperer, Furtwangler, Tosacanini, Stokowski, Reiner, Szell, Karajan, and others.
Only the Weingartner clip overstays it's welcome (the entire Der Freischutz overture), and Isaac Stern's somewhat pompous attitude grates after a while. Otherwise, first rate!
The contributors are attractive enough. We have Jack Brymer, John Gardiner, Beecham himself, and a lot more. Among them Menuhin is definitely the superstar. His comments on Beecham, Furtwangler or Toscanini, just like his violin music, are so expressive and very much to the point. As to Isaac Stern, his remarks make a mixed bag. But once the question is rightly framed, like those on Bruno Walter or Bernstein, heis no less potent.
Comments on Reiner and Stokowski are very precise too. Or else, Klemperer on Walter, plus clips of the two rehearsing on their own are so illuninating. And we can even see Strauss himself actually conducting! These two alone are worth the price of this DVD. And of course, one may also be delighted by what Berlin Philharmonic's former timpanist's said of Karajan, "he is not a creator of any kind; he is a salesman, selling music, selling the orchestra and himself... but that was what we wanted..."
The length of the coverage, however, varies a lot perhaps due to the availability of the clips or whatever: some unnecessarily long and some unforgivably short. Moreover, they don't always support or illustrate the point the contributors are making. We even have George Szell talking about the justification of keeping an orchestra and the financial side of keeping one etc, quite irrelevant as far as the art of conducting is concerned. One may also grumble that quite a number of great European conductors are left unntouched. But the running time is already 164 min. plus a most interesting bonus. We perhaps couldn't possibly expect more.
Having said that, there is a short clip of Barbirolli rehearsing (in a couple of minutes) which was most revealing and which was later directly commented upon by an EMI Record producer. We also have Beecham talking, rehearsing and performing. The consensus among the top musicians (Issac Stern, Menuhin, Hugh Bean etc) seems to be: he was grossly underrated. But perhaps due to the availability of the films, the point is not sufficiently bourne out by the short clips here.
The point about Bernstein is well made out, pariticularly in the light of the commentaries given by Issac Stern ( to a lesser degree by JE Gardiner) and the rehearsals/performances though short are neverthless self-evident. So was the case of Weigartner and Busch.
We have some precise comments on Furtwangler by Menuhin, to be supplemented by Schwarzkopf and the timpanist of the then Berlin Philharmonic; such comments are to be seen from another angle by Hugh Bean to be rounded up by an EMI Record Producer. I'm not sure if the point is well made out from the clips here; but that shouldn't worry serious music lovers who would have no problem referring to his CDs in the light of these comments.
The point about Klemperer, however briefly, is quite well made out. So is the case of Strauss or even Toscanini and Stokowski. Stokowski even explained in front of the camera the role of a conductor and what he was driving at. Likewise was the coverage of Bruno Walter and Szell, both in terms of comments and illustrations: both talked and rehearsed and performed. The coverage of Reiner is shorter but was no less forceful. The case of Toscanini was forcefully made. But the case of Koussevitzky is marginally weaker though.
In a nutshell, very informative as to what music is, and how these great musicians make music, not so much as composers but more as interpreter of the composers' music. And having gone through it a second time, and to do it justice, one must add: it has deservingly won the Best Video - 1995 Gramophone Award 1995 (UK) & Choc de l'Annee 1994...
However, this is a great film.
A must have!!!!