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Posted January 10, 2012
Eric Shulz’s documentary seeks to shed some light on the enigmatic figure of Carlos Kleiber, a complicated man both loved by many of the musicians who worked under him, and strongly disliked by many others that worked with him. Interviews with Placido Domingo, Brigitte Fassbaender, Michael Gielen, Manfred Honeck, Otto Schenk, and Veronika Kleiber (Carlos’ sister, giving her first interview about her brother) are featured, as well as excerpts from Mr. Kleiber conducting at various points in his career. It is truly fascinating to see the man come alive while conducting, and the footage of him explaining to his musicians how a particular section of a piece should be played is amazing – as expressed in the film, it is clear that Mr. Kleiber “felt” each piece of music, and his descriptions of how things should be played are rooted in some of the basic examples of our shared human experiences. This is a conductor that “gets it”, and it is no wonder that some of his musicians loved him for this.
There is footage of Mr. Kleiber at various points in his career, and in this documentary a picture is painted of a complicated man, full of vitality and childish joys, always on the move, going somewhere, doing something, occasionally intimidating, but at his core shy and caring. What is most telling is how Placido Domingo speaks about him, with reverence and respect – this listener really wishes he could have attended an early Kleiber concert…it would have been unforgettable. Kudos to Mr. Shulz for giving us a window into the life of this conducting legend.