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Bruce Surtees
The WholeNote, July 2011

I do enjoy some rehearsal videos and often find them very absorbing and informative. I can enthusiastically recommend a new DVD, Celibidache Rehearses Bruckner’s Ninth (ARTHAUS MUSIC 101555, 1 CD). In his late years the conductor took the time to perfect minute details of balance and tempo. “I breathe with you, and that is the secret of phrasing: where you breathe and how you breathe.” This video is only of the Adagio movement and is interlaced with Celibidache’s appreciation of Bruckner the composer and visionary. Profoundly satisfying, this should not be missed by a thoughtful person who gets Bruckner.

Anne Shelley
Music Media Monthly, April 2011

In 1992, Schmidt-Garre directed a full-length documentary about the controversial conductor Sergiu Celibidache. This 1991 footage—in which Celibidache rehearses the Munich Philharmonic on the Adagio section of Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony—is a remnant of that project. The rehearsal is periodically interrupted by brief interviews, some as Zen-like as the volatile conductor claimed to be and a couple in which Celibidache simply spews lofty rants. Personality issues aside, Celibidache was often musically criticized for his radical interpretations of tempi, for demanding a high number of rehearsals, and for his principled refusal to release commercial recordings. This film reflects many of his virtues, however, including the fact that he rarely conducted with a score in either rehearsal or performance and is recognized even by his critics for his exemplary interpretations of Bruckner’s symphonies. In this rehearsal, he typically only gets through two measures at a time and gives unspecific, aesthetics-focused directions, yet his players respond well and appear compliant, engaged and mostly happy in their work. Perhaps it is a combination of Celibidache’s age (he would die a few years later at 84) and his slow yet steady rehearsal style that seems to draw in the viewer and player. At the very least, this disc offers the opportunity to view a unique rehearsal methodology and experience a mini-documentary of one of the twentieth century’s most polarizing and important conductors.

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