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Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a serendipitous release, appearing as it does (by coincidence) within a few months of Carlo Maria Giulini’s death at the age of 91. Unusually among international conductors, he was known for his humility, simplicity of lifestyle, and rapport with instrumentalists. Giulini possessed a small repertoire, slowly increased over the years only after he’d completely absorbed a score. Of the Tchaikovsky symphonies, he performed and commercially recorded the two on this release: the Second in 1956, the Sixth in 1959. Attempts by Walter Legge to get Giulini to record the Symphony No. 5 were doomed. Even the powerful and persuasive EMI executive couldn’t convince this particular conductor to tackle a work he felt little sympathy with and
hadn’t thoroughly studied.
Giulini’s Second is bright and energetic, with a playfulness that makes it work in ways more sedate or monumental approaches don’t. Francesca da Rimini (recorded in 1962) is taut in its drama, with a string tone that brings de Sabata to mind. The Symphony No. 6 is beautiful in sound (the Philharmonia had never sounded better) and paced with a fine sense of theater, though it lacks the intensity of Markevitch and Celibidache. Much the same can be said of this Romeo and Juliet, also from 1962, with the added proviso that the pacing is too stodgy leading into the climax of the work to sustain momentum.
Digital re-mastering is good on all selections except the Second symphony, which was slightly airless on the original LP. EMI appears to have added a little echo to the bass to give the sound more life, but then had to compensate with a treble boost that renders the upper range tinny. I recommend a slight drop to the lower bass and upper treble. Slender but competent notes on Tchaikovsky. The timings aren’t particularly good in this EMI two-fer, but as a reminder of a great talent, it’s self-recommending.
Barry Brenesal, FANFARE
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 2 in C minor, Op. 17 "Little Russian" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Carlo Maria Giulini
Length: 30 Minutes 56 Secs.
Notes: Composition written: Russia (1872).
Composition revised: Russia (1880).
Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Carlo Maria Giulini
Written: 1876; Russia
Romeo and Juliet Overture by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Carlo Maria Giulini
Written: 1869/1880; Russia
Length: 19 Minutes 54 Secs.
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Maybe the best Pathetique ever committed to disc December 26, 2013
By Gordon Brown (San Diego, CA) See All My Reviews
"When I was just 12 years old, my mother purchased several Angel LPs with music by Tchaikovsky, performed by the Philharmonia under Carlo Maria Giulini. By that point his reading of the sixth symphony had been extant for two, maybe three years. Of course, I could not realize at the time that this reading would go down as one of the greatest, if not THE GREATEST, ever committed to recordings...and rightly so. Beautiful, eloquent phrasing throughout, with tempi taken just a tad slower in parts than in other performances, yielding just the right amount of pathos. It was decades before I was to hear this recording again, via a music subscription service, and I was so moved by it that I began doing some research. Surely enough, it turns out to have been the same recording on which I cut my classical teeth (along with the symphonies of Sibelius, music by Debussy, Respighi, etc.). The acclaim for this recording appears to be nearly unanimous, even 55 years later, and the recording sounds remarkably well in this digital remaster. The recording is coupled with a sensational performance of Francesca da Rimini (also in my mother's collection), and Giulini's take on Symphony No. 2, "Little Russian," which seems to have been recorded in slightly rougher sound. But no matter. That's more than made up for by the electricity of Giulini's "Romeo and Juliet: Fantasy Overture" (the flip side of Francesca on the old Angel LP). Very glad to have purchased this set from ArkivMusic at a bargain price. Very strongly recommended, even if you have other recordings of these works."