I first saw Sergiu Celibidache conduct in 1969. It was at the Helsinki Festival with the Swedish Radio Symphony. I was amazed at his ability to control every detail of the music he conducted. And he was a charismatic figure, especially in the encores. He danced, he shouted, he did everything but stand on his head. As the years went by he became less flamboyant but his tempi got slower and slower. His demands for extra rehearsal time became more and more outrageous, to the point where few orchestras would hire him. It didn't help that he talked incessantly during rehearsals and often treated the players badly.
This video shows Celibidache at his best, in music of his native Romania. This concert was given in Bucharest in 1978 and the performance is superbly controlled and exciting. The conductor smiles, grimaces, swings his hips from side to side, and at one climactic moment lets out a tremendous bellow. The art of conducting, indeed!
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