Saturday, February 07, 2009

Cantelli on Film

I found this rare clip of the late Guido Cantelli in action. Cantelli, an Italian conductor, was Toscanini's protege and would have been a major figure in the world of opera had he not tragically died in an airplane crash outside Paris in 1956. He was 36

Cantelli still evokes strong emotions when discussed. As with Toscanini, Cantelli was demanding perfectionist, hard on both himself and his orchestras. Some loved him, some chafed over his demands for long rehearsals and full attention to the smallest detail. Today, some of his performances seem a bit mechanical while others surge with power. His Beethoven 5th of 2/56 has never been bettered. His Tchaikovsky 5th with the La Scala orchestra is fast, but so rich and powerful. He was a strong advocate of Bartok and Hindemith, when both men's music was new and not often heard.

This clip of Rossini's "Semiramide" overture is with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, probably January 27th, 1952. Cantelli shows he was a passionate conductor, hardly a machine. His stick technique would be a bit hard to follow, but since the orchestra was drilled to perfection, he felt he merely had to direct the mood and passion, not beat time. Even though it was just a "curtain raiser", one can tell he lavished as much attention on this work as he would have say Brahms'1st Symphony or the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra.

Cantelli is a passion of mine, I have all his recordings, probably one of the most complete collections in the country. Strangely, after collecting Cantelli recordings and memorabilia for 30 years, this is the first time I have ever seen a film of him conducting.

No comments: