Giulini has always
carried himself with a certain dignity
and authority. For those of us who have
only seen him in his later years, this
DVD comes as something of a treat. With
the finest UK orchestra of the time
at his disposal, Giulini achieves some
from Watford in 1964, positively shines
with character, right from the clear-toned
trumpet ‘Promenade’. The strings have
depth and a rapier-like attack (just
be aware that there is some congestion
in the recorded sound). In ‘Gnomus’,
Giulini emphasises the grotesque - and
how good to see his eyes on-camera.
Watching him in concert from the back,
one was unaware of the fire they held.
Not so here. He encourages his soloists
to great things – try ’The Old Castle’,
where a reedy but smooth bassoon leads
to a smooth sax solo.
Tempi can be on the
slow side (‘Tuileries’, ‘Ballet of the
Chickens emerging from their Shells’),
but this is always for the sake of precision.
Care is always in evidence, for example
in the carefully-graded crescendo of
‘Bydlo’. Some individual contributions
should be mentioned – the miraculous
muted trumpet in ‘Samuel Goldberg and
Schmuÿle’, and the timpanist in
‘Baba-Yaga’ who plays with such abandon.
The brass section excels throughout,
emerging as simply resplendent in ‘The
Great Gate of Kiev’. The whole orchestra
gives an impression of sheer unstoppable
power in the closing moments. A memorable
The Mozart and de Falla
items date from December of the same
year. The venue is changed to Croydon.
The Mozart is fascinating.
Giulini gives a very slow upbeat – just
how did the players get the speed from
him? But they did, and the tempo is
certainly not what we would call Molto
allegro today (and there is no repeat).
But this is compelling viewing nevertheless.
Not a single gesture from Giulini is
awkward or even sudden, attributes that
surely contribute towards the gentle
and lovingly-sculpted success of the
slow movement (violas to the right side
of the conductor). Only in the finale
are juxtaposed contrasts allowed to
tell, creating a new dynamic. As for
the three pieces of the Three-Cornered
Hat, the clean rhythms and Giulini’s
underlining of the vibrant orchestration
make for a breath-taking experience
(the high-voltage festivities of the
final ‘Jota’ are edge of the seat stuff!).
Giulini brings a characteristic
sense of grandeur to the Sicilian
Vespers overture. A pity that the
dry acoustic robs the long cello tune
of some of its expressiveness, but it
is surely a small price to pay for a
performance that includes moments of
unbelievable beauty as well as infectious
dance-like passages within the space
of a mere ten minutes.
The ‘bonus’ (DVD manufacturers
seem to love this concept) is Guido
Cantelli, no less, in rehearsal with
the Scala orchestra at the Usher Hall
in Edinburgh. It is much more of a play-through
than a rehearsal proper, with Cantelli
indulging in sudden crouches for subito
pianos. The sound is crackly and distorted
and much detail is lost, yet the source
still retains the superb string shading.
to all students of conducting and to
all lovers of the (New) Philharmonia
(the renaming of the orchestra is explained
in Richard Osborne’s excellent notes).
This is one of the best Pictures
I have heard and it is for this, above
all, that this DVD is most valuable.