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Robert Markow
Fanfare, November 2013

Bruckner’s Seventh has seen many fine, even great recordings over the years, but none better than what the elderly Celibidache does with it. This is as compelling and persuasive an interpretation as you will find at any tempo. But even this is not the main feature of the two-disc set. It is the 55-minute documentary of the conductor directed by Wolfgang Becker that simply overwhelms, both in its revelation of a great musician at work and in its archival footage. Becker has captured on film a substantial rehearsal sequence that goes to the very heart of the eternal question, “What does a conductor really do?” We see and hear results forming before our very eyes and ears, and the process is fascinating. © 2013 Fanfare

Robert Markow
Fanfare, January 2013

We see, in exquisite detail, how Celibidache works on the seventh symphony’s opening tremolo until he gets exactly what he wants…we see and hear results forming before our very eyes and ears, and it’s a fascinating process. This is obviously not a conductor content to just run through a score. “Celi” has ideas, and whether you subscribe to them or not, he forces them into your consciousness with the conviction of a religious zealot, in the process making the music come alive in ways it may never have before. I strongly suggest you first watch the documentary and only then the complete, live performance of the symphony.

Black and white footage from the 1940s and ’50s is intermixed with modern color sequences of rehearsal excerpts…Pacing and editing are first-rate. If only all music documentaries could be like this one.

When we turn to the performance itself, we find what may be the most expansive and spacious Bruckner Seventh ever presented…Celibidache never loses the momentum, no matter how slowly the metronome may tick. In short, this is as totally compelling and persuasive an interpretation as you will find at any tempo. Everything positively glows with sincerity and conviction. The sound is always warm, beautiful and without hard edges to the articulation. Phrases grow naturally, inevitably, inexorably to their peaks. The entire orchestra thinks, feels, breathes, and plays as a single living musical organism. The brass, especially in the second movement, are superbly balanced, totally unified in sound. The climactic moment of the third movement brings images of the gates of heaven opening. At the end of the fourth, there are 10 blessed seconds of silence following the last chord. Now that’s something else you don’t hear often. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

John Whitmore
MusicWeb International, October 2012

This is very special. The documentary, The Triumphant Return includes interviews with former BPO players from the Celibidache era. They all talk very touchingly about his genius and the way he inspired the orchestra to produce exceptional results. These interviews clearly demonstrate the magnetic effect Celibidache had on the orchestra…It’s all very touching. This is a fine documentary, beautifully produced.

The concert itself is almost a bonus to a documentary to which I will regularly return. As Bruckner 7s go I actually enjoyed this performance immensely. The orchestra produces a fabulous sound especially in the lower register. The string playing is just exceptional and Celibidache manages to coax some stupendous cantabile phrasing out of them. Everything flows and the balance allows every voice to come through. It’s all there—clarity of articulation, beauty of sound and a real grasp of the architecture. The orchestra is clearly inspired by the conductor’s vision and there is a definite sense of occasion. The audience are blown away by it all and rightly so.

Technically the camera-work doesn’t get in the way. We are allowed to sit back, watch and listen. There are good overall shots of the complete orchestra and regular close-ups of the conductor but not too close. The sound is fine. This is well worth buying.  © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Robert Benson, June 2012

It is a powerful performance, micromanaged by the conductor as can be seen from the rehearsal. Video is excellent, with rasonably good stereo sound. The 54-minute documentary is fascinating, offering excerpts from meticulous rehearsals along with commentary about the conductor’s career. A fascinating, historic release in every way! © 2012 Read complete review, June 2012

Of all the Celibidache Bruckner recordings…this is the most legendary. First of all the March 31, 1992 event was special in itself in that it marked the conductor’s first performance with the orchestra since soon after WWII. But then the recording itself has its own history. Soon after the performance, Sony released this recording on VHS and Laserdisc…copies of the recording became instant collectors items…Copies have been floating around—either from the LD or from a European TV broadcast, but now it is finally commercially available. © 2012 Read complete review

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