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more on celi from denis fodor

Satoshi Akima writes:

>The first time I really understood Bruckner was in Munich when I
>found myself fortuitously at a public rehearsal with Sergiu Celibidache
>conducting the university orchestra in the 4th. It had just so happened
>that an old lady at the pension I was staying at had come all the way to
>Munich just for this occasion, and told me of the rehearsal, in addition
>to stories of hearing Furtwaengler live as a student. I had only barely
>heard of Celibidache at the time, but it seemed his Bruckner in particular
>had become legendary amongst those who knew of him.

In return for the professsorial title given him by the Bavarian State
Conservatory, Sergiu Celibidache every year devoted about two weeks to
teaching there. It mostly took the form of drilling the conservatory's
orchestra. Sometimes the venue would be the auditorium of the conservatory
itself at others it might be the aula (meeting hall) of the university.

And Celi didn't fool around, He really laid into them till they played it
his way. At one session I experienced him in a dudgeon over the sound of
the basses. Wearily sweeping the orchestra to a halt, he glowered at the
erring section. Then, for about fiteen minutes, he instructed them in
the tuning their instruments. All this vis a vis a group of pretty well
trained young musicians. They loved it. So did the audiences. Wherever
Celi and the students worked out, halls were always packed.

And to address something else that Satoshi Akima noted, Bruckner most
certainly still rides high in hereabouts. Celi and the Munich Philharmonic
excelled at playing him--even though the EMI recordings of most of
the symphonies just don't do justice to the live performances that I
experienced. The Philharmonic orchestra still plays Bruckner pretty
regularly. Guenther Wand is scheduled to do the 8th soon, provided his
very advanced age in ythe event to permit it. As far as I'm concerned,
Bruckner most definitely belongs in the core of classical music (and 20
Debussy nocturnes don't).


Roger Hecht in a very instructive thumbnail sketch of the
instrument-placement problem wrote in part:

>...Conductors, for it is they who usually decide on this issue,
>are often fooling with setup trying to get the sound they want out of
>particular group of players in front of them. Stokowski was notorious for
>experimenting with some quite wild setups to produce different effects....

When a decade ago the Munich Philharmonic moved to its new hall, there
was no end of trouble over positioning the band. Sergiu Celibidache, the
conductor, was at the focal point of it all. Input from the orchestra
flowed to him where it festered for a while before it then proceeded in the
form of output to the management. So what happened? Prior to the move the
orchestra had played in the more-or-less conventional pattern: from left
to right, first violins; second; violas; cellos. Back of the cellos and
violas, the basses, with the rest of the orchestra from there on arrayed
more or less by sections, though some brass was moved hither and yon for
certain pieces and everythingg was squinched together, perforce, for the
enormous forces stipulated by, say Mahler, or Berlioz. And such was the
arrangement that everyone wanted to retain. The problem then arose that
Celi couldn't hear his players clearly enough. All kinds of simple
remedies were tried only to be shrugged off from the podium. Finally they
installed an array of acoustic sails that suggested in shape something
out of a George Lucas movie. The podium kept shrugging, the technicians
adjusting. Finally, during rehearsal one late morning Celi halted the
orchestra with a limp sweep of his left arm and for laden moments glared
up accusingly at the monstrous mobile sculpture tethered on high. The
with the tragic grace of Socrates downing his hemlock, he gave a shrug so
despondent that his long white tresses whipped down over his brow to cover
entirely his dramatically creased visage. Screw it, the message came
through, let's just make music. And they did.


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