Claudio Abbado doesn't talk. No doubt because he expresses himself with music so intensely that words must seem inadequate to him. So when someone manages to convince him to talk about himself in front of a camera it is a great opportunity. Even Pierre Boulez plays at being an interviewer.
This portrait of the maestro was made in 1995 when he was the director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra as well as the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra of which he was the founder.
Working sessions with these ensembles, the evocation of his training in Vienna when he sang in choirs under the direction of Bruno Walter or Karajan, memories of his fellow conductors Zubin Mehta and Daniel Barenboim who knew him when he was very young in Siena, in 1956. The film includes witness accounts of orchestra musicians and soloists such as the pianist Maria Jao Pires who try to pierce the mysteries of his art...
"It would be nice if…" is what he usually says to his musicians rather than give them orders. That is typical of Abbado.
Gala concert of the Lucerne Festival
Lucerne Festival Orchestra
Berliner Philharmoniker, Lucerne Festival Orchestra