Veneration maybe the word that best applies to the attitude of some musicians and music lovers to their conducting god, Carlos Kleiber. But the penalty for this consummate talent was virtually a mental health problem for Kleiber, and some pretty cruel treatment of musicians, concert promoters and, it seems, more than a few women.
That said, Kleiber was top drawer talent personified. Just viewing his magical rehearsals proves this beyond doubt. And this splendid film provides far more evidence than just those, as well as fascinating insights and enthusiasm from musicians, critics, sister and others. All in all a highly viewable film of the life of possibly the 20th century's most talented conductor. CB
It's difficult for me to write an impersonal view of this film - or of its companion 'Traces to Nowhere' because it had an emotional and intellectual impact on me that's still buzzing weeks after I first watched it. In fact I'm repeating some of what I wrote in the 'Traces' review, on the grounds that there are only so many photographs you can take from the summit of K2.
It's a film that fires the imagination - like, what would it have been like to play with him conducting? Even to be in the audience? You get to see something of his particular conducting technique - with eyes and fingers and butterfly-baton - but I treasure especially his metaphors (he had six languages) ... preparing for the Liebestod, he says that Isolde is on her way to her first communion, she is in ecstasy and it's the audience that's heartbroken. On another occasion he clarifies his direction by telling the orchestra 'it's like making love to the same woman, but in a different position.' How does one get to be as masterful and beautiful in six different languages?
Watching the excerpts from the New Year's Day concerts from Vienna, I had the insight that he conducts the VPO as if they were a Bavarian band and the Bavarian band as if they were the VPO. My Dad, who idolised Beethoven and died well before Kleiber came on the scene, would have been stunned by this; I can feel him on my shoulder whether I be laughing, crying, or simply entranced.
Interesting documentary of the very secret personality of one of the best conductors of the late XX century. In addition it is a real "tour de force" tp make such a good film in the absence of personal interviews of such charismatic individual. Last week we lost Claudio Abbado, also a great conductor but with such a calm temper in contrast to Kleiber. I recommend this doucmentary.
Carlos Kleiber was one of the greatest conductors of the last century. Unfortunately his recording legacy was rather limited. He was a perfectionist in the true sense of the word and his available recordings of some of the great works of the nineteenth century bear witness to this. This DVD sheds light on various aspects of the life of a great musician. Not to be missed.