Celibidache

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COMPOSERS: Celibidache
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Der Taschengarten
PERFORMER: SWR Stuttgart RSO/Sergiu Celibidache
CATALOGUE NO: 471 612-2 ADD Reissue (1979)
Sergiu Celibidache (1912-96) was a leading conductor whose compositional activity has gone all but unnoticed. Der Taschengarten, an orchestral work in 13 movements – Schoenberg would be aghast – was written for (and based on interviews with) children. The booklet essay implies that it came into being in the late Seventies; made in 1979, this was Celibidache’s first studio recording in a quarter-century. When it appeared on LP the proceeds went to UNICEF for the aid of underprivileged children.

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Although the detailed programme of the work seems overly precious, the music itself – densely textured but teeming with character – avoids a similar charge, despite the knock-about feeling of the opening and closing movements and touches like intentionally ill-tuned woodwind, a peremptory whistle to begin ‘Crazy Ride on a Hobbyhorse’, and so on. A genuine, uncomplicated sense of loss colours ‘Hedgehog! Where are you?’; likewise, the drama created in the penultimate movement by an unruly watering can (the recorded sound turns raw and constricted when confronted with this climax) hints at greater significance than the category ‘children’s piece for orchestra’ might suggest. Indeed, despite its obvious differences, this engaging work merits a place alongside more famous children’s suites by Schumann and Debussy. David Breckbill