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“Sergiu Celibidache in Rehearsal and Performance,” a 2007
DVD release, is a rare opportunity to watch this fascinating
conductor take the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
through its paces during a rehearsal of “Till Eulenspiegel,”
by Richard Strauss (1864-1949).

A fastidious taskmaster in rehearsal and performance,
Celibidache (1912-1996) illustrated his perfectionist tendencies,
with attention to minute details. This rehearsal was followed by
a performance of the piece in the same venue before a small
audience, and was clear evidence of the effectiveness of
these labors.

The other featured performance was of “Scheherazade,”
composed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908), taken
from a 1982 concert with the same orchestra, and filmed in
color. Maestro Celibidache’s penchant for slow tempi was
partially illustrated here, as the running time for the piece
was approximately 50 minutes. However, it didn’t seem to
matter much. I believe that this work is practically
“conductor proof,” because the music is so inherently
beautiful throughout.

Needless to say, with Maestro Celibidache at the helm, a poor
interpretation was not a concern. It’s true that the tempi
were slow at times, such as during the bassoon solo at the
beginning of the second movement, but that was not the
norm. Actually, this performance was shaped very lovingly.
Besides, it’s a rhapsodic work with the aim of telling a story,
and I don’t feel that strictly gauged tempi are as important
here, as they might be in a Beethoven symphony.

Given the era of this film, the sound quality and the
camera work are decent enough. Most importantly, due to
Maestro Celibidache’s reticence to make recordings, this film
provides a rare opportunity to watch this conductor in action.
I would suggest that you watch it, and form your own opinion.
Personally, I felt that these performances were fine, if not
“revelatory,” and I’m glad that I watched them.