on 5 May 2014
After buying this set, I approached playing it with some trepidation. This is because received "wisdom" would have us believe that the older Giulini became, the slower his interpretations were. Yes, it's true that the speeds adopted in these standard repertoire works are comparatively steady and sometimes downright slow, but to judge the music making on the grounds of tempi alone would be a mistake. Giulini approaches all these works in a romantic manner. This sort of music-making is out of fashion now. One of Giulini's mentors was Bruno Walter and it shows. Giulini is simply interpreting the music through his own romantic vision. Would you want to hear the same interpretation of all these masterpieces over and over again? I think not. On some days, I like to hear Beethoven symphonies conducted by the likes of Zinman or Vanska. On other days, it will be Giulini to whom I turn. In his hands, all the music in this box sings. I have lost count of the number of times certain instrumental lines are elucidated and details are uncovered. Hearing these interpretations is like riding in a luxury car at a steady speed. There is time to look out of the window and admire the view. Giulini gives himself space to uncover detail and inner parts. At the same time, though speeds are steady, the music has an inner life and rhythmic pulse which prevents it from becoming bogged down. Every note is given its full measure. Perhaps the most controversial interpretation in the box is the Bach Mass. Be prepared to get on to Giulini's wavelength, or just treat it as a one-off experience! Look at the orchestras involved here. The cream of European ensembles. Giulini elicits beautiful playing from all of them and Sony has provided wonderful digital sound. In summary then, while none of these recordings would be considered mainstream, primary recommendations, they are richly enjoyable on their own terms and allow us to enjoy the fruits of Giulini's lifetime experience in works he clearly loves.
on 15 November 2014
This is a fascinating collection of recordings. I had known some before buying this set, though only actually had one (Dvorak 8). They are distnguished readings, mostly characterised by slow tempi with 'curved' turns of phrase rather than angular. 'A combination of Klemperer and Haitink' was the thought that occurred to me several times during listening. The tempi are like Klemperer's, but there the comparison ends. Klemperer always played with plenty of thrust and very pointed rhythms, despite the usually slow pulse, but comparing the repertoire recorded here with Haitink, where applicable, one becomes aware of how Haitink 'rounds the corners' to produce a suave effect. It is this that Giulini achieves here, though at Klemperer's pace, more often than not. If you like interpretations that are well thought out and felt through, you will love everything here. If however, you like the the brisker Charles Mackerras touch or clipped period instrument style, pass on by. For me, these CDs are superior even to the 'Vienna' box on DG (where duplications occur), but the DG box does inlcude the Liszt PIano Concertos with Lazar Berman and the Brahms symphonies, wich are well worth having.
on 9 May 2014
What a change from the raw and histrionic recordings, which are a dime a dozen nowadays. There is nothing 'authentic' about Giulini's versions--no gut strings, no 415 pitch, no 'obviously intended' tempi--but Giulini himself. The maestro can take his time by perfect pulse. The Eroica is jaw-droppingly beautiful, inimitable, unprecedented. Sometimes Giulini's slow tempi take some getting used to--Bach's Mass in B Minor has a touch of those '50s versions which now seem antiquated (but is distinctly fast in comparison with Mengelberg). The Brahms is full of colour. Yes, Giulini deserves the epithet which he has received: the greatest.
on 2 October 2015
Giulini had his own, inimitable take, on Life, the Universe and Everything.
I liked these recordings - different, it's true - but then, a different take on stuff you've heard a squillion times before - from one so gifted as Giulini undoubtedly was - is surely, no bad thing.
Great deal to find yourself liking, in here !