mercredi 25 janvier 2012

Books (the sequel ...)

I have taken some more time to read the books I mentioned on an earlier post.

Of the three, I was left dry is on the one on George Szell. The author Michael Charry display a genuine respect for Szell but Szell beginning go too fast. One does not get a sense of how he developped. The other topic of Szell's famous dicatorial attitude is briefly mentioned but too cautiously (and can I remind readers of a Szell joke of him saying to the orchestra: let us rehearse the music and then we will rehearse the spontaneity ...)

This being said, it has made me buy the Grammar of Conducting, a book Szell recommended. I will keep you posted on it.

The one by Riccardo Muti on the other hand spends a significant time on his formative years. It really makes appreciate the value of the Italian conservatory systems and their teachers. Muti, very correctly, identifies what he ows to to all his professors who saw his potential and developped him. While one can have an image of a fairly over confident conductor, he comes out as more humane and profound. The parts on the later years may be less interesting as he is keen on not forgetting anyone ... but the beginning is revelatory. (On Muti, may I direct readers to the blog of Chicago critic Andrew Patner which includes a number of regular interviews of Muti. Highly recommended.)

Charles Barber's book on Carlos Kleiber is fascinating and I really recommend it.I am guessing that it was written by the author, ie, there was no ghost writer interviewing someone and putting words into a book. Baker became a regular penpal with Kleiber, probably because he reached out to him in a direct and unaffected manner and also because he seemed to share a similar sense of humor. Maybe, this was a breath of fresh air as everyone was probably bowing with the utmost respect to him.

he first part is as detailed description of Kleiber's life as one can read. I was unaware of many details, a fascinating one being the story of the recording sessions with Michelangeli.

The second part includes a significant part of the Baker - Kleiber's correspondance. It contains unique jewels as one can appreciate Kleiber's encyclopedic knowledge, quick wit, ... and understand some of his concerns (read the letters on the mistakes on Orchestral parts ...). There are also some great insights on Kleiber's commenting when to pre-beat.

Whether one will understand and graps Kleiber's genius is another story. Maybe like Kane's Rosebud, one should respect and "do not trespass".

When time allows for, I will try to write my own Kleiber stories of the 7 unforgettable Operas I heard him conduct from 1981 (Rosenkavalier in Munich Jones - Fassbaender - Popp - Moll) to 1994 (Rosenkavalier in Vienna Lott - Von Otter - Bonney - Moll). This will be another post.

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