Kleiber’s Excellence

Carlos Kleiber: I Am Lost to the World (2011) (DVD)

To be issued on April 26, 2011

I have come to view the late Carlos Kleiber as one of the most extraordinary conductors of all time. And this DVD shows us a great deal of this man’s genius, as well as the devils that haunted him. We learn of Mr. Kleiber’s relationship with his father, Erich Kleiber, who was a well-known conductor in Europe before the family moved to South America when the Nazi’s emerged in the mid 1930’s.

I learned for the first time that the older Kleiber would introduce his son by saying: “This is my son, Carlos… absolutely no musical talent…”. The father’s comment is astounding, really…

What makes this DVD unique is that it includes so many people who knew him well. Other conductors (Mutti), as well as Directors of European Opera houses, and many, many orchestra players are included, and they tell us about Carlos Kleiber based on their own experiences. A lot of these folks tell us of his personal charm, his charisma, and about his professional self-doubts. We hear about all the performance cancellations, about the fact that Kleiber despised journalists, and about the demands that he made of singers and instrumental performers.

We learn about Kleiber’s self-deprecating humor, and about his womanizing. Most of all, however, I learned more about his astounding *feeling* for the music, about his very expressive hands and arms, and about his dedication to “getting it right”…

Much of this DVD is spoken by Kleiber’s friends in German, but there are excellent translation sub-titles into other languages.

And… of course… there’s a lot of music. While you can hear some Wagner, there are also rehearsals for a concert of the Beethoven Symphony #4, where the leader of the second violin section totally gets frustrated with Kleiber’s explanations and demands.

Several of the participants in this film share with us their own view that here was a man who was a legendary conductor, yet also a man with strong personal demons, some of which haunted him to the end of his life.

Here is a Carlos Kleiber rehearsal (in German)


And here is Carlos Kleiber in Beethoven’s symphony No.7, Op.92:

Tags: Carlos Kleiber, conductor

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