With all the contained authority and still noticeable strength of an old lion, Sergiu Celibidache, eighty-two years old the evening of this concert in Cologne, conducts with a finger, an eyebrow and a nod of the head, the hypnotised musicians of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra. It was with this formation, of which he was the musical director from 1980, that the conductor of Romanian origin was recorded on May 13 and 14, 1994, two years before his death on August 14, 1996.
For this last filmed performance, a true musical legacy, he provides us with enthralling interpretations of French musical works inspired by an imaginary Spain: Ravel's l'Alborada del Gracioso, Rhapsodie espagnole and Boléro, and Debussy's Prélude à " L'après-midi d'un faune " and Ibéria.
This fine programme is served by his special talent for making all the sections sing and for bringing out all the median parts of a piece while infusing the whole with the same intense breath and with the same expertly dosed strength. Like a water diviner with his stick, he captures in the orchestra the warmest sounds and most subtle phrasings to produce a Boléro by Ravel conducted like an archaic ritual.
New Philharmonia Orchestra - BBC Symphony Orchestra
Europakonzert 2003, Lisbon