George Szell with David Oistrakh
1961: George Szell conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Fritz Reiner, music director) in Beethoven’s Fifth.
Dec 30, 2022 | Videos | 2 comments
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This is very rare.
A super New Year’s surprise.
Insightful on so many levels: the technical (when to signal something, when not); the human (no congratulatory smiles here, such a baleful rostrum presence…such an implacable will, the men – all men – expected, it seems to go without saying, to do their job); the interpretative (weight with energy, without recourse to mannerism). Here is the conductor’s art at its most mysterious and compelling. Even after looking at the very opening of this film several times, I still can’t figure out how the first attack is so damned TOGETHER! I love the story of someone saying to Klemperer, ‘Szell is a machine’, to which Klemperer is said to have replied, ‘yes but a VERY GOOD machine!’. But it seems there was charm away from the concert platform. The much-missed Quita Chavez, doyenne of the recording industry from the 1960s to the 1990s, once told me that Szell was a delightful dinner companion, always contacting her when he was in London: ‘Let’s meet and relax for an hour or two, away from musicians and rehearsals, Quita’.