Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Hit by a Love Bomb: Here Was a Conductor Who Knew How to Impress, Writes Antonia Quirke

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Hit by a Love Bomb: Here Was a Conductor Who Knew How to Impress, Writes Antonia Quirke

Article excerpt

Who Was Carlos Kleiber?

Radio 3

Radio 3's documentary Who Was Carlos Kleiber? (26 September, 12.15pm) simply exploded with love. "Carlos was the greatest conductor and the greatest musician I have ever met," said Placido Domingo, the first in a queue of delirious interviewees. Followed by "his was charisma beyond any human definition of it", "his eyes said 'I know everything'" and "he inspired a special kind of excitement that bordered on ecstasy".

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Better check this brother out on YouTube, I reckoned, and quickly found him stuck into Beethoven, flourishing a super-slim baton in the manner of a person standing at the intercom of an enormous apartment block and pressing all the buttons, desperately searching for his ex. The small, cultured teeth, the bird-fine cheekbones, the fierce intakes of breath as the orchestra boomed, covering what you felt certain were lots of little isn't-this-wonderful noises he was making. In short: not a face that screamed, "All my friends are dead or in jail." Not a face that was going to be boring you all night with sixth-former theories about how Taxi Driver is "a film about loneliness" (don't get me started).

Ah, the whole thing made me well up a little over, oh I dunno, life, and love, and 1986 for definite, with its network of concert-goers wrapped in loose coats and wearing earrings that doubled as squeaky elephants. (Have you ever read the comments underneath old concert footage on YouTube btw? Favourite recent postings: "what karajan does to bach should not be done to dog" and "On a personal note, I was lying with my v beautiful girlfriend when I first heard fledermaus and she might as well not have been in the frickin room. …

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