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Dan Morgan
MusicWeb International, November 2012

The HD picture—upgraded from the standard-def original—is pretty sharp and the colours are true. More important the sound has a penetrating warmth that ravishes the ear and batters the heart. The horns and brass are especially well caught, and there’s some wonderful flute playing too. Günter Wand’s live Berlin account for RCA—recorded in 1999—has similar amplitude but it has harder edges and more thrust; by contrast, Celibidache finds a degree of inwardness and vulnerability here that’s deeply affecting. And in the movement’s final, multilayered peroration—where the music ‘gathers to a greatness’, as Hopkins would have it—Celi is sans pareil.

The Berliners surpass themselves too, playing with a commitment and passion that’s rare these days. There’s a lyrical intensity and singing line in this Adagio that will take your breath away, and those dark, plangent brass chorales would make the angels weep. At times this band sounds like a giant chamber group; they’re alive to the subtleties of internal balance and move seamlessly from one long-breathed phrase to the next. It really is a wonder to behold, with every strand of this great score laid bare in the most convincing and organic way. It’s a long movement, and there is a hint of longueurs towards the end, where even the camera’s eye is tempted to rove the hall.

Really, that’s a small price to pay for music-making of this calibre, aided and abetted by sound of astonishing range and fidelity. Indeed, the sonics here are among the very best I’ve encountered on Blu-ray, and they put some recent discs to shame. Every timbre is most faithfully rendered, each fragment heard without recourse to the kind of audio trickery that mars so many filmed concerts. Rodney Greenberg’s direction is invariably discreet and well-informed; in fact it’s a model of its kind, with only the compromised framing a reminder of that dubious decision to go wide.

I usually have to force myself to watch these ‘bonus tracks’, but this hour-long feature by Wolfgang Becker is more illuminating than most. It dips into Celi’s career with the orchestra after the war and hints at the politics that separated them in the 1950s. The archive footage shows a young man of flamboyance and gypsy good looks who also had quite a temper. Much of Becker’s film is dedicated to conversations with older members of the band and rehearsal clips for the Berlin Seventh.

It’s a measure of this conductor’s forensic understanding of the score—not to mention the Berliners’ collective skill—that this music can be so carefully picked apart and reassembled with such precise and astonishing results…this is a telling—and affectionate—portrait of a man in his twilight years, yet still possessed of a riveting intellect and powerful podium presence. Now if only all ‘extras’ were this interesting.

A uniquely satisfying Seventh; a must for all Brucknerians. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

John Sunier
Audiophile Audition, October 2012

…[this] is a truly legendary performance [by the Berlin Philharmonic], perfectly captured in terrific ungimmicky stereo sound and with excellent camera work. Yes, at 90 minutes with all the stuff at the beginning and long, well-deserved applause and passing out of flowers at the end, it is a very long symphony, but what an experience! The Adagio movement is probably the highlight of the whole thing—to my ears the equal of any performance of any Mahler slow movement. The whole triumphant performance is nothing short of a miracle, and so well captured both visually and sonically. The audience present in Berlin’s Schauspielhaus clearly had a unique experience.

The documentary is interested to view once. It uses extensive footage from the rehearsal for the Bruckner Symphony, and shows what fine, almost nit-picking points Celibidache made with the musicians. It seemed a bit hard to stomach but the proof was certainly in the performance. There are also interviews with some former orchestra members. © 2012 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

Lawrence Devoe, July 2012

This performance of the magisterial Bruckner Symphony No. 7, one of the composer’s most successful works, represents Celibidache’s 1992 return to this orchestra after a nearly 40 year absence. He was 79 at the time of this concert and made his way haltingly to a seat at the podium. Once the baton is lifted, however, years vanish, and we are given a reading both informed and unique to its conductor. Given the 1992 provenance of this concert and the technical limitations of the pre-HD era, viewers will still get a very good look at what one of the conducting legends of the 20th century could do with a first-rate orchestra.

Wolfgang Becker does a nice job in balancing near and far camera shots.

This is an important video documentary of a major figure on last century’s music scene and for those who were not able to see Celibidache in person, you are given a sizable glimpse of what he was able to accomplish from the podium. One comes away with the sense of how much this conductor truly loved this music. Remembering that Bruckner composed this work as a memorial to his idol and mentor, Richard Wagner, the Adagio is construed as a mystical hymn that is punctuated by a cymbal crash. All considered…this BD is well worth watching… © 2012 Read complete review

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9:38:06 AM, 2 September 2015
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