Lots of blog space has been devoted to the various horrors of classical music LP and CD cover art.Â But methinks a great deal of plumbing is left to do in the world of video!
1. Tchaikovsky, Piano Concerto No. 1
Alexis Weissenberg, pianist; Herbert von Karajan, conductor
Let’s start with this chestnut from Herbert von Karajan, an entertainment dynamo whose vast ego pushed him to ever more creative, and ludicrous, video projects.Â It’s moments like this that have made his an ever-reliable name in the cringe department:
The color scheme, the obvious miming on the part of the musicians, the irreverent placement of wind players, the great “action shot” literally coming from the piano’s action with no discernable movement from the hammers: it’s a veritable smorgasbord of delights.Â [Not to mention that 2:10 – 2:20ish makes a very convincing case for filming classical music performances in 3D!]
2. Bartok, Concerto for Orchestra, mvmt. 4
Lorin Maazel, conductor
So, lot to pick apart here.Â First, there’s the fact that Maestro Maazel seems to be communicating with his home planet during the opening 10 seconds of this clip.Â Then there’s his utterly unique solution to the tricky meter transition right around 2:19. [By the way, let me just interrupt here and say that one often hears about Loren Maazel being a conductor with a flawless technique.Â I mean, 4rlz?Â My sneaking suspicion is that the original source for this popular opinion is none other than… Lorin Maazel.Â I’m not saying that he’s a bad conductor AT ALL… or am I?]
Then of course there’s all the camera spinning, the gong action, the trombones, etc…
3. Beethoven, Egmont Overture
Sergiu Celibidache, conductor
OK, so I’ll finish this installment with a little gem that first came to my attention via one of those “The Art of Conducting” VHSs that I used to watch like 10 times a day when I was in high school.Â A very young Celibidache conducting Beethoven’s “Egmont”:
There’s no fancy camera work here, but there is some amazing editing (I mean, come on, 7:13? Srsly u guys?) and the fact that Celibidache’s hair looks like it was spring loaded by the special effects department.Â And then there’s that set, which, what exactly is it?Â Might it be a discarded “Lion’s Den” from a production of Der FreischÃ¼tz.Â For a nation destroyed by war, trying to reclaim its international reputation by means of its illustrious artistic tradition, this was an… interesting choice.