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24.12.2011 19:38 - The Disappearing Maestro by NORMAN LEBRECHT
Автор: kleiber Категория: Музика   
Прочетен: 3930 Коментари: 0 Гласове:

Ask 10 conductors to name the maestro they would most like to be and nine will say: Carlos Kleiber. The 10th might pause a second before adding, "but his repertoire was so small."

Over the course of 47 years—his first appearance as a conductor was in 1952, his last in 1989—Kleiber achieved performances of "Tristan und Isolde," "Der Rosenkavalier" and "Otello" that may never be bettered. And although he made just 12 recordings, against Herbert von Karajan"s 900, and led 89 concerts against his workaholic colleague"s 2,260, Kleiber left what many regard as the definitive accounts of Beethoven"s fifth and seventh symphonies and the most sensually satisfying of Brahms fourths. These particular orchestral performances (all recorded by Deutsche Grammophon) were made with the Vienna Philharmonic, the orchestra with which Kleiber had deepest personal affinity.

How Kleiber did it was a mystery, even to his peers. "I don"t know about you," said Bernard Haitink to Simon Rattle, watching Kleiber rehearse a 1986 "Otello" at Covent Garden, "but I think my studies in this art have only just begun." That snippet of conversation between two outstanding conductrs, recently related by Mr. Rattle to Charlie Rose on PBS, reveals volumes about the fragile maestro psyche.

Among conductors of modern times, Kleiber was the most delicate, canceling dates at the slightest excuse or none at all. He signed a contract to make his U.S. debut at the San Francisco Opera in September 1977 but in February sent a withdrawal letter to the opera"s director saying, with typical puckishness or perversity, that the debut would conflict with his son"s dentist appointment. He cost EMI and DG a million dollars each (they told me) by failing to show up for long-agreed opera recording sessions in East Germany. There was no arguing with Carlos and few comebacks. "Are you going to sue me?" he would say.

Corresponding With Carlos

By Charles Barber
Scarecrow Press, 363 pages, $85

He never gave a media interview, telling an overeager label flack: "It"s better that way; when I talk, it"s rubbish." His secretiveness bred a lurid mythology—that he was, for instance, the illegitimate son of a great composer or that he was addicted to casino gambling. Even his death was obscure: Six days passed before the world heard of it, in July 2004.

The need for a biography is obvious, but this first attempt—"Corresponding With Carlos"—is a curate"s egg, a book of two unequal halves. Charles Barber, conductor and artistic director at City Opera Vancouver, became Kleiber"s pen-friend in the late 1980s. Kleiber, often lonely, was prone to form unlikely friendships—one was with a female bassoonist in a Luxembourg orchestra whom he spotted on television. Mr. Barber, by great persistence, achieved an epistolary intimacy with the great conductor over the last 15 years of his life.

The biographical half of his book is hard-going, a trudge through lumpen text that often lacks cohesion. The question of Kleiber"s much-gossiped parentage, for instance, crops up on page 71, midway through his life.

The birth certificate tells us that Kleiber was in fact born on July 3, 1930, in Berlin to the Staatsoper conductor Erich Kleiber and his American wife, Ruth Goodrich, from Waterloo, Iowa. A principled anti-Nazi, Erich Kleiber migrated in 1939 to Buenos Aires, where he conducted at the Colуn Teatro and young "Karl" turned into "Carlos." After the war, Erich had trouble finding work in Vienna and West Berlin, though he triumphed in London with Berg"s "Wozzeck," a work he had premiered in 1926. He died, disappointed, perhaps by his own hand, in 1956.

Carlos, discouraged by his authoritarian father from taking up the baton, became a conductor by rebellion or default. After training posts in Duisburg, Dьsseldorf and Zurich, he spent seven years (1966-73) as first Kapellmeister in Stuttgart. He then stepped off the career ladder, accepting fewer and fewer offers. Often he conducted as a personal favor; his U.S. debut was in Chicago, where his friend Peter Jonas was artistic administrator of the Chicago Symphony. In later years, he liked to say that he conducted "when my freezer is empty." Married to a Slovenian dancer with whom he had two children, he lived obscurely in a Munich suburb.

Kleiber confined himself to works in which his father excelled (excepting Mahler, whose music he declared "messy"). These Oedipal inhibitions gave rise to speculation: Was he trying to outdo his father every time he conducted—and did that overwhelming paternity make him freeze at the prospect of performance? It may be that fragile Carlos was just terrified of failing to live up to his own, self-imposed standards.

Mr. Barber"s biographical narrative, blurring as much as it clarifies, is casually strewn with avoidable errors, notably about the important involvement of both Kleibers at Covent Garden (whose history I have written), where Erich was a formative disciplinarian, and there are more penetrative accounts of Carlos than the over-cited memoirs of ex-director John Tooley. However, once the book turns from biographical sketch to lively correspondence, we get the thrill of reading—hearing—the voice of Carlos Kleiber, and all is light.

English was Kleiber"s native tongue, and he was never one for idle chat. In rehearsal, he said little to the players, leaving corrective "Kleibergrams" during coffee breaks on their desks. He apologizes in the letters to Mr. Barber for an "obnoxious sense of humour" and criticizes one of his own videos in which the Concertgebouw players "were so stolid and uninterested and . . . my hair was flying every which way (I had forgotten the hairspray, the most important thing for a conductor right after knowing how to tie your own bow-tie, having shirts the right size and wearing braces that don"t shrink)."

He was enthralled by the ungainly Klaus Tennstedt on television, " "cause he looked helpless and unpretentious and the orchestra . . . played for their lives!" He could be engagingly rude, deciding that "Boulez"s poker face implies that the silly noise [he was conducting Varиse] neither surprises nor bothers him. Determined professionalism. It"s a job, you see." He tells Mr. Barber that he is "never very rattled by Simon" (Rattle) and refers airily to Chicago"s "Sir Salty" (Sir Georg Solti).

His observations range from the cheerful to the acidulous but are never malicious. When discussing music, Kleiber sticks to dry technicalities. His intellect was considerable, but if there was an inner life to Carlos Kleiber, he does not entrust it to paper. His favorite poet was Emily Dickinson. He was that inscrutable...

Тагове:   carlos kleiber,   norman lebrecht,   charles barber,


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