From the buoyant, carefree musical laughter of Mozart, to the richness and heft of Brahms, to the hazy, dreamlike pointillism of Debussy, the music of each composer comes with its own distinct voice. Great orchestras have the ability to change on a dime and quickly lock into the style and sound appropriate to the music.
In this old clip, you can hear Romanian conductor Sergiu Celibidache shaping the sound of the Berlin Philharmonic in a rehearsal of Anton Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony. “Less vibrato.” says Celibidache. “More seconds!” he yells, bringing out an essential inner voice. Bruckner’s “sound” is pure and blended. The orchestra becomes a giant, living, breathing pipe organ in his nine titanic, majestically-unfolding symphonies. There’s also a chilling sense of mystery in Bruckner’s music. It emerges out of silence and then returns there.
I provide a brief listeners’ guide for Bruckner’s Seventh, along with Celibidache’s performance with the Munich Philharmonic, in this past post. Here is another great live concert performance by Christian Thielemann and the Staatskapelle Dresden: