When I came across the DVD,
“Carlos Kleiber: Traces to Nowhere,” I naturally grabbed it.
Apparently, it’s the first documentary film about him, and it was
released during 2011 on the ARTHAUS MUSIK label. Directed
by Erich Schulz, the film was actually completed during 2010.
It’s important for a number of reasons, including its valuable
black-and-white footage of Carlos Kleiber (1930-2004) from
around 1970, conducting the SWR Stuttgart Radio Symphony
Orchestra. As Maestro Kleiber’s dislike of cameras was
legendary, it was surprising that he allowed these rehearsals
to be filmed.
In typical documentary fashion, this disc also contains insights
from others regarding his personality and working methods.
These include his reasons for choosing to perform very few
works, as well as his bouts with depression. The film also
conveyed Maestro Kleiber’s apparent desire to meet the
standards set by his famous father, Erich Kleiber (1890-1956).
In fact, these two musical icons shared a great deal of
repertoire. The luminaries weighing in for this film include
mezzo-soprano Brigitte Fassbaender (1939 – ), tenor and
conductor, Placido Domingo (1941 – ), conductor and
composer, Michael Gielen (1927 – ), actor and director,
Otto Schenk (1930 – ), and others.
As an extremely gifted conductor, Maestro Kleiber was able
to command the highest fees, while conducting when he
felt like it, because his services were in such demand.
Although this documentary contains material that might be
discerned as predictably hagiographic, the musicians
consulted are almost unanimous in singing his praises.
I found it touching that this 72-minute film was bookended
by references to and footage of the Slovenia village of
Konjšica, where Maestro Kleiber made a second home
among the other 143 residents, and where he was laid to
This film was made for ServusTV, the broadcasting branch
of the corporation that manufactures Red Bull Energy Drinks.
With the exception of the contributions from Placido Domingo,
the remainder of the film is in German, with optional
subtitles in four languages. I’m glad that I watched it!