> EMI Great Conductors Giulini [JP]: Classical CD Reviews- Nov 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770 - 1827)

Egmont Overture, Op. 84 - (1810) (4)
Symphony No. 7 in A, Op. 92 - (1812) (2)
Georges BIZET (1838 - 1875)

Jeux d’enfants, Op. 48 – (1871) (1)
Maurice RAVEL (1875 - 1937)

Ma Mère l’oye, Op. 48 – (1911) (3)
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792 - 1868)

Tancredi Overture – (1813) (1)
Robert SCHUMANN (1810 - 1856)

Symphony No. 3 – Rhenish (reorchestrated by Mahler), Op. 97 – (1850) (1)
Johann STRAUSS (1825 - 1899)

Kaiser Walzer, Op. 437 – (1889) (5)
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882 - 1971)

The Firebird - Suite, – (1919) (1)
Philharmonia Orchestra (1), Chicago Symphony Orchestra (2), Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,(3), Turin Radio Symphony Orchestra (4). Vienna Symphony Orchestra (5) conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini.
recorded in Kingsway Hall, London, Oct. 1956, (Stravinsky / Bizet), June 1958, (Schumann), April 1964, (Rossini), Auditorium di Torino della RAI, January 1968 (Egmont), Medinah Temple, Chicago, March 1971, (Beethoven 7th), ORF Studios, Vienna, April 1974 (Strauss), Herkulessaal, Munich, January 1979 (Ravel). DDD
Volume 18 in the Great Conductor Series
In association with IMG Artists
EMI CLASSICS 5754622[156.14]


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This issue is Volume 18 in EMI Classics’ series of the Great Conductors. So far the series has given us some real treats from the stocks of unissued recordings by the major companies and radio archives as well as re-issues of some treasured items. Volume 18 is no exception.

It is difficult to register that Giulini has not recorded any material since the mid to late nineties, and has now retired from conducting altogether. When one thinks of favourite Giulini recordings, on investigation, they nearly all come from at least twenty years ago. His reputation has been kept alive by a stream of re-issues from his three main sources, EMI, DG and Sony.

As he has aged, his interpretations have generally become slower and slower. It is very good therefore to be able to welcome this compilation, which comes from earlier in his career, when he was a great favourite in London giving many concerts with the Philharmonia.

The earliest are the Stravinsky and Bizet items from 1956. These have the Philharmonia in excellent fettle, with flexible rhythms and warm, vital performances in evidence. Both were recorded in the Kingsway Hall.

Another Philharmonia recording is the Schumann Third in the Mahler reorchestration from 1958. Again, this is in clear, warm sound, typical of EMI orchestral recordings of the day. These were set down at the Abbey Road studios, rather than the Kingsway Hall.

The Tancredi Overture was recorded in 1964. There has for many years been an EMI Studio recording of a collection of Rossini Overtures by these artists. If you have a copy of this, you will know what to expect, with Giulini’s extensive operatic experience shining through. Here is an example of one of the best points of this series, in releasing a recording not previously released. Thus we get an opportunity to hear further examples of the conductor’s art rather than duplicating works we may already have.

The Chicago performance of the Beethoven 7th is a typical Transatlantic effort: big, powerful brass and Giulini’s lithe spirited interpretation, a little on the slow side, but really getting the essence of the dance over to the listener.

The sleeve note warns us not to expect too much from the Egmont Overture, recorded live with the RAI Turin Orchestra. I was expecting something dire as a result, but on hearing it, there was a certain pleasure in listening to such a vital performance. The recording quality is clear and the audience, although audible is commendably silent.

Another live performance is that of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra playing a Johan Strauss waltz. Interesting, given the repertoire that Giulini tended to specialise in, but not a determining factor for or against purchase.

The highlight of these discs, for me, was the performance of Ma Mère l’Oye, recorded live in Munich in 1979. This is delectable, with a wonderful sensitivity to Ravel’s score. The German Orchestra play beautifully for the Italian master. It sounds as though it is a composite of two live performances, given the lack of audience noise throughout, quite apart from thunderous applause at the end. This is worth the cost of the set alone.

John Phillips

EMI Great conductors of the 20th Century

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