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CD Review

Great Conductors of the 20th Century

Carlo Maria Giulini

1 Philharmonia Orchestra/Carlo Maria Giulini
2 Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Carlo Maria Giulini
3 Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Carlo Maria Giulini
4 Orchestra sinfonica di Torino della RAI/Carlo Maria Giulini
5 Vienna Symphony Orchestra/Carlo Maria Giulini
EMI CZS5-75462-2 2CDs 152m ADD
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This issue in EMI and IMG Artists' latest offerings dedicated to the mercurial Carlo Maria Giulini, one of the finest conductors ever to grace the stage in selected and carefully chosen repertoire. Some interesting live recordings are included amongst other studio efforts that show us the art of this arcane conductor.

First off is a judiciously paced "Tancredi" Overture that is ravishing in the Philharmonia's excellent playing. I was already familiar with this Beethoven 7th from Chicago and can confirm that it remains a noble version with a wonderfully mystical Allegretto and bucolic Finale. Ravel's "Ma mere l-oye" is also magically done with the added frisson of a live recording creating a superb atmosphere. The 1856 recording of Bizet's "Jeux d'Enfants" is also quite ravishing with each little movement given proper shadings and care, a typical Giulini approach.

The second disc starts off with a noble version of Beethoven's "Egmont" Overture, quite palpably played by the RAI Turin Orchestra who certainly sense the magisterial occasion. Two studio recordings hen follow, a full blown "Firebird" Suite, surely one of Giulini's finest Stravinsky recordings, and a no-holds barred Schumann "Rhenish" which is also wonderfully played by the Philharmonia in its Mahlerian orchestration. A twelve-minute "Kaiser-walzer" with the Vienna Symphony rounds off a most satisfying collection.

In the exquisite notes, Peter Quantrill provides us with snapshots of Giulini's career and his decision to stick to a small repertoire. Those who will acquire this collection will no doubt agree that it was worthwhile in limiting oneself to the pieces that one can bring an added fantasy to. Carlo Maria Giulini's recordings are thus all gems in their own right.

Copyright © 2004, Gerald Fenech