Saturday, January 22, 2011
Szell in Tokyo
Just found this on youtube after hoping this would pop up for years. This has become one of the most legendary concerts of the 20th century. From 1946 to 1970, George Szell created the modern Cleveland Orchestra. It was, and perhaps still is, the most technically accomplished orchestra in history. Nobody had ever heard virtuosity like this - military precision tied to flexibility and very human expression. Unfortunately, most of their studio recordings don't do justice to how electrifying they could be - a combination of dull sound and Szell's obsessive overcarefulness in the studio gave them a reputation for blandness when their concerts were anything but.
This was made on-tour in Tokyo in May of 1970. Two months later, Szell would be dead from cancer, and he knew it. This concert comes down to us as the final memento of a Great American Band.