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Carlo Maria Giulini was talented, handsome, charming and considerate.
He was not ego-driven.
Orchestras loved him.
Audiences loved him.
Critics loved him.
The man was a Saint.

This box includes a 76 minute oral biography of the man, produced by Chicago radio station WFMT.
A lot of musicians talking about how wonderful he was.
No one has an unkind word.

I love Giulini, but he may have been The Least Interesting Man Alive.

[hint: for ease of navigation, read the review though to the end, then come back and click on the links.]

"The London Years" contains 13 CDs worth of recordings Giulini made with the Philharmonia Orchestra between 1956 and 1964.
This was Giulini's first international exposure.
He was already known in Italy for his work in opera, but those "live" La Scala broadcasts were not officially released until thirty years later: Verdi: La Traviata
- Plus an additional 3 CDs of recordings with other London Orchestras, 1966 to 1976.

Despite being in existence for barely twenty years (1945-1964) the original Philharmonia Orchestra quickly became one of the world's great orchestras, largely thanks to the efforts of its first principal conductor, Herbert von Karajan.
Karajan had to leave in 1956. *
[ Don't worry - He found another job. ]

During the orchestra's second decade, Carlo Maria Giulini was second only to Otto Klemperer in the number of recordings made with the Philharmonia, a testament to the regard of his colleagues and to his popularity with the record-buying public.

I would rate many of these recordings in my top five.
- Giulini's Firebird Suite may be the best ever - Dennis Brain's horn playing is spectacular (recorded in 1956).

Giulini's greatest recording with the Philharmonia Orchestra is missing from the box: the 1963 Verdi Requiem: Verdi : Messa da Requiem; Quattro Pezzi Sacri - or - Verdi Requiem - or - Requiem & Four Sacred
Let's hope Warner Classics is planning another box with Giulini conducting Sacred Choral Works of Mozart, Beethoven and Verdi.

REMASTERINGS: Giulini's Philharmonia recordings were the mainstay of EMI's mid and low-price reissue series in the early days of CD.
These twenty year old re-masterings account for half the contents of this box.

- Re-Mastered in 2013:
Beethoven: Egmont Overture
Boccherini: Symphony Op.43, Overture
Brahms: Symphonies, etc.
Haydn: Symphony 94
Mussorgsky: Night on Bald Mountain
Ravel: Ma Mere, Pavane, Rapsodie Espagnole
Schubert: Symphony 8
Verdi: Overtures

- Re-Mastered 1998-2004:
Beethoven: Symphony 6
Bizet: Jeu d'enfants
Debussy La Mer, Nocturnes
Rossini: Overtures
Stravinsky: Firebird Suite
Tchaikovsky: Symphony 2, Francesca da Rimini

Everything else was re-mastered between 1987 and 1995.
Not state-of-the-art, but pleasant enough.
There is a contents list on the back of the box, photo at the top of the Amazon web page.

--- The next chapter in Giulini's career was centered in the United States, and is documented in three inexpensive boxes:

- Chicago Symphony, as Principal Guest Conductor during the early Solti years,
EMI recordings, 1969-1976:
Carlo Maria Giulini Centenary Edition - The Chicago Years
DG recordings, 1976-1978:
Giulini in America

- Los Angeles Philharmonic, Music Director,
DG recordings, 1978-1981:
 Giulini in America - Complete Los Angeles Philharmonic Recordings

--- Late Giulini: 1984-1995 recordings with the the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, and the "La Scala Philharmonic", documented in inexpensive boxes on DG and Sony:
Giulini In Vienna - and - Giulini - The Complete Sony Recordings
In his late sixties, midway through the Los Angeles period, Giulini's interpretations became more serious and thoughtful.
Detractors would say stodgy.
His internal clock certainly slowed down.
Late Giulini was unpredictable: He could still produce intensely spiritual performances, like Bruckner Symphonies 7-9 with the Vienna Philharmonic on DG,
or it could all fall apart: the arthritic unfinished Beethoven Symphony set (all but Symphony 9) with the La Scala Philharmonic on Sony.

--- EMI has also published a nice box of Giulini's Concerto Recordings, 1957-1978:
Carlo Maria Giulini Centenary Edition - Concertos
This covers the London and Chicago periods + a nice detour to the Vienna Symphony, where he was briefly Music Director, 1973-1976 - also documented in his EMI recording of Bruckner's 2nd Symphony, not included in these boxes. Released on Testament:

* Yes, I know. Karajan made a few stereo recordings with the Philharmonia after 1956, but he was fulfilling the terms of his EMI contract.
After 1960, he only conducted in London when the Berlin Philharmonic was visiting.
77 comments| 26 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 6 May 2014
It is an infamous obloquy on this most fascinating, complex and above all curious man in the world. In the late 60s and earlt 70s I was a Visiting Fellow at an academic Instotute in Chicago, and, when the Board of the Lyric Opera and the Chicago Symphonic decided to appoint both Giulini and Solti as Co-Directors, they reached an astonishingly sensible arrangement: Solti would take care of the administrative as well as musical side, while Carlo Maria would only concern himself with music. Each time I was in Chicago I had lunch with one or both - both of them were endlessly curious about the ghastly racial state of the City, something they had never experienced before. I well remember Carlo Maria, after a performance of Schubert and Beethoven, asking me over dinner about the notorious South Side ghetto of Chicago, where Mayor Daley had virtually locked up the black population. "Is it true? Can it really be true?", he kept asking, " And then they come here to listen to divine music - perche? - do they think it will cleanse their souls?". Solti, more worldly-wise, used to say, "Make your music here Carlo, and then beat the hell out." To have the privilege not only of hearing two such giants twice a year, but conversing with them would disabuse anyone ignorant of them that Ciulini was the "Least Interesting man" - as ignorant an insult as I can think of.
Dipak Nandy
11 comment| 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 22 December 2014
Enclosed in this box are some of the very best performances Giulini ever recorded, in sound that generally ranges from good to very good, and at a bargain price. In short, it is a fitting tribute to this great conductor and a worthwhile addition to any medium sized music collection..
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