BBC Legends – Carlo Maria Giulini

0 of 5 stars

Concert Music for Strings and Brass, Op.50
Symphony No.7 in D minor, Op.70
Egmont, Op.84 – Overture

London Philharmonic Orchestra [Egmont]
New Philharmonia Orchestra
Carlo Maria Giulini

Recorded in the Royal Festival Hall, London – 30 November 1969 (Dvořák & Hindemith) & 14 May 1975

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: October 2006
BBCL 4194-2
Duration: 67 minutes



If Carlo Maria Giulini (1914-2005) had a relatively ‘small’ repertoire for both the concert hall and the opera house, it’s one that he nurtured with love, intensity and spiritual dimension.

Paul Hindemith is not the first composer that one thinks of in connection with the great Italian conductor, but Concert Music for Strings and Brass was, it seems, regularly performed in Los Angeles when Giulini was music director of the Philharmonic (and he also led the symphony associated with Hindemith’s opera “Mathis der Maler”). This November 1969 account of Concert Music is trenchant and scrupulous, opening out the music’s potential for making a statement; the brass sound is sonorous, detailed and integrated; the string playing is rich and pointed. Great care is taken and the score is brought alive; one of Hindemith’s finest – its ceremony, whimsy, eloquence and exhilaration receives a compelling rendition.

So too, from the same concert, does Dvořák’s Seventh Symphony, a Giulini favourite, which he officially recorded twice; this release takes the tally to four (there is a concert performance in a Chicago Symphony box, too). Giulini captures the fire and spontaneity of the music; he lets it sing and patiently builds climaxes while eliciting much ‘intertwined’ detail. Ebb and flow, and tenderness, but not indulgence, are the hallmarks of this performance, one with a considerable input from the woodwind and horn players; a fine of mix of impromptu response and intensive preparation.

Directional flow and expressive largesse epitomise this heart-warming performance, one of humanity, and in which the scherzo has swirl and bite, and the finale opens up the emotional floodgates. Above all, Giulini makes Dvořák his own man, not suggesting him as a close cousin of Brahms; this is a performance both Bohemian and Slavonic.

After all this, the ‘Egmont’ overture seems rather ‘incidental’; and this, six years on, is mellower Giulini – a weighty, time-taken version with hammer-stroke accents and moulded lyricism; a sense of occasion, certainly … and best listened to on its own terms.

Decent stereo sound throughout, and well re-mastered.

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