New on Youtube: Carlos Kleiber conducts…

New on Youtube: Carlos Kleiber conducts…


norman lebrecht

February 08, 2021

Beethoven 5th symphony, his trademark piece.

This appears to be the only acceptable film of Carlos Kleiber in the 5th*, and it’s with the Vienna Phil, his recording partners.

Do not look away for an instant.

* A Mexican version here is unwatchable.


  • henry williams says:

    i like the people walking to their seats as the music starts.

  • poyu sung says:

    I almost wish they only film Kleiber (like what they did for Rosenkavalier Act 3). I can have my eyes glued on him the whole concert.

    • Douglas says:

      …but then he would be Karajan and not Kleiber

    • Petros LInardos says:

      Wouldn’t you want to see how the musicians respond?

      • Sixtus says:

        I’d prefer to hear how the musicians respond.

        • Petros Linardos says:

          I couldn’t agree more. That what recordings are for. Youtube clips don’t have a good enough sound.

          To your good point about listening, I think this clip is not worth listening to. Sound quality is substandard. But it can be worth watching, even for people who are not conductors, because Kleiber’s gestures seem to elucidate the music to anyone who pays attention.

  • Herbie G says:

    His dad did a great Beethoven 5th too!

    • Don Ciccio says:

      I suppose you are talking about his Concertgebouw recording and you are right. But do yourself a favor and hear the live version with the Staatskapelle Berlin, released in the anniversary set of the orchestra. It instantly became one of my favorite versions of the piece, the others being that of Furtwangler (wartime) and the amazing one of Klemperer live with the Vienna Philharmonic. I also seem to recall a superb Tennstedt version, though it’s been a while since I heard it.

      Carlos Kleiber is, as always, the best of the rest.

  • JussiB says:

    Nice video. His Beethoven 7th is my favorite.
    IMO best Beethoven 5th conductor today is Jaap Van Zweden.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Indeed. He treats the music as contemporary: just written yesterday. And forgets about all the worn-out versions.

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    I like that little gesture before the start showing “this is 1-2” as it’s a nortoriously hard piece for an orchestra to start. Remember the John Geordiadis story re: Previn coming a cropper with the opening and the orchestra splitting in two

    Many thanks for posting. Great start to the day !

    • Montebello says:

      As I see it he gives the first and second beat of a 4 bar pattern, the three is silent and the 4 is his beat of the first bar.

    • Douglas says:

      I forget which conductor it was but someone said to him that the opening of Strauss’ Don Juan was terribly difficult to conduct. The reply came that it was no problem at all: you come up onto the podium and start it before the audience finishes clapping.

    • Amos says:

      It’s a little more difficult to see but Szell with the CSO are together with a glance at the divided strings and a firm gesture:

      • Larry W says:

        Unlike Kleiber, Szell doesn’t lose the high oboe cry at 5:02 or the main theme in the French horns at 7:01 (which he clearly directs). The recording with the Cleveland Orchestra is even better. More human. Maybe the best ever.

  • Rudy says:

    He was paid a fortune (as well as the orchestra) for the Mexico tour. The President’s wife took several suitcases full of dollars to Vienna in order to get this tour. A year later, the economy un this (rather fascist) country collapsed, making the Karajan/Berlin visit impossible and had to be cancelled. Her name: Carmen Romano. Sadly her last years were spent in a mental hospital.

  • Stereo says:

    Fantastic. Possibly the greatest conductor ever.

    • RW2013 says:

      Overrated of

    • Mathias Broucek says:

      A great conductor but it’s hard to describe as “the greatest” a conductor who never led a major orchestra or opera house and never gave any significant premieres. Now Erich did those things AND stood up to each of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin…

      • BrianB says:

        Correct. His entire opera rep consisted of about five or six works and, in concert, around a dozen or so pieces. All well-honed and memorable but not a record on which to build career greatness.

        • Petros LInardos says:

          The limited rep you are referring to was sadly Kleiber’s active rep from at least the mid-70s on.
          Earlier in his career Kleiber had a much wider repertoire.

          If wanted to criticize Kleiber, the easiest target is his thin legacy. which pales when compared to that of his contemporary Claudio Abbado. Abbado not only had long term relationships with major orchestras, but he also worked extensively with youth orchestras, and helped nurture new talent.

  • Joseph says:

    If we are going to confabulate on dead musicians, let’s include composers more often.

    Gabrieli, Monteverdi, Dowland, Gibbons, Schütz, Frescobaldi, Cavalli, Lully, Charpentier, Purcell, Buxtehude, Corelli, Couperin, Rameau, Scarlatti …

    Pergolesi, Jommelli, Boyce, Gluck, Paisiello, Boccherini, Cimarosa, Cherubini, Sor, Weber, Rossini, Meyerbeer, Donizetti, Bellini …

    Verdi, Bruckner, Gounod, Bizet, Mussorgsky, Dvořák, Fauré, Grieg, Tchaikovsky, Massenet …

    Elgar, Scriabin, Ives, Janáček, Vaughan Williams, Bartók, Berg, Poulenc and Britten all merit SD “vertical” time.

  • Player says:

    We want the rest! Please…

  • For Kleiber in classical there are I think only 3 video of acceptable quality the 2 new year concerts he did and the concert at the Concertgebouw with the 4th and especiually the 7th of Beethoven. There ‘are also some images very poor of him for Tristan we saw in the excellent documentary about him.

  • Gary Freer says:

    Kleiber conducting, Margaret Price singing the Liebestod – it doesn’t come much better than that.

    • Petros LInardos says:

      Many people find the Bayreuth Tristan even better. I generally agree, though I haven’t compared Price against Ligendza. But you are probably right: the Bayreuth Tristan isn’t MUCH better 😉

    • Douglas says:

      I absolutely agree. Kleiber apparently sent a marked-up score to Margaret Price and was thrilled when she turned up for the first rehearsal having considered all his suggestions. The sound of her voice and her meticulous attention to the words are both remarkable. I have listened to it so many times and always wait for the ‘colouring’ of the last 4 words, especially “unbewusst”.(unconscious), as her voice seems to cloud over.

  • sonicsinfonia says:

    Love the way Sony has claimed copyright of the YouTube clips as a performance by Maazel and Cleveland!

  • sam says:

    Kinda disappointing.

    In terms of conducting technique/showsmanship, he’s just basically giving downbeats; at his best, you can turn off the audio and just watch him to practically hear the sound he is getting from the orchestra.

    In terms of interpretation, I know his recording is considered as one of the canonical ones, but I don’t think he quite captured it in this performance.

  • Alexander T says:


  • Tom Varley says:

    Here’s a link to the same concert, with the complete performance.

    Inferior video but better sound for the first movement. The last 3 movements are probably about the same sound quality as the clip in the main post. Some strange production decisions – such as running some of the credits about 2 minutes before the performance is finished.

    • Player says:

      I think the sound (at least in places) of that full performance you link to is not actually the one from the concert! Not just splicing in the (studio?) recording to cover the presenter’s intro (the first 13 seconds) and concluding remarks (!! at 26:14) but most of the rest too – at times in sync, at times not?

      Now compare this with a recording from the first movement of the concert in the actual original Mexican TV version here…(ie which still has the presenter’s words)

      What do we think?