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Schubert: Symphonies Nos. 8 & 9 / Giulini, Berlin Philharmonic

Schubert / Berlin Philharmonic Orch / Giulini
Release Date: 10/11/2011 
Label:  Testament   Catalog #: 1463   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Review Quotes:

"These live Berlin performances, beautifully transferred from original German Radio sources, come into competition with alternative accounts, both live and studio, from the Italian maestro. The “Unfinished,” like a closely contemporaneous studio version with the Chicago Symphony for DG, occupies a middle ground between his 1961 recording with the Philharmonia (EMI) and a late one with the Bavarian Radio Symphony (Sony, 1995). The Berlin reading is smooth, refined, and deeply lyrical, at leisurely tempos. Weight of tone is imposing but always cushioned, and accompaniment figures lovingly tended... the “Great C Major” entered Giulini’s repertoire much later, only in the 1970s. In addition to studio recordings
Read more in Chicago (DG, 1977) and Munich (Sony, 1993), this joins another live version from 1975 with the London Philharmonic (BBC Legends). His conception of the first movement is an original one that will not be to all tastes: Giulini solves the tempo issue by equating the pulse between the opening Andante (taken at a lively clip) and the main Allegro ma non troppo (stately and rolling), dispensing with the customary mediating accelerando...Excellent sound and production values, as usual from Testament..." - Fanfare, [May 7, 2012]


Two evening concerts in the middle of January 1977 featured the symphonic legacy of Franz Schubert: the twomovement Unfinished in B minor, and the later four-movement Great C major. The rage of critical reactions to Giulini's interpretations can be seen clearly from the headlines in three Berlin daily papers: "Schubert - a Traditional View" (Tagesspiegel ), "Schubert - Poetry without Harshness" (Spandauer Volksblatt) and "On the Brink of Silence" (Die Welt). In the Tagesspiegel Wolfgang Burde noted Giulini's achievements, through "plaintive, tender, entreating gestures", in these two very different works. "The orchestral players reciprocated all of this invested passion and devotion of musical expression with an instrumental performance that both represented the overarching lines and showed a constant corresponding investment of themselves." Giulini's music is not so much "communicated", not so much progressively experienced as from thought to thought, but rather an expressive outpouring of the inner self. Hans-Jörg von Jena described Giulini in the Spandauer Volksblatt as "the antithesis of the stereotypical Italian conductor. He is worlds apart from the empty outbursts of temperament or vacuous operatic pathos. He has an integrity that will not be satisfied with the mere craft of conducting; it is focused on the very heart and spiritual core of the music." The great symphonic works of Schubert were offered here in deeply felt, sometimes overwhelming interpretations marked by self-determining independence from norm and tradition. "The B minor Symphony was presented in surprisingly unified emotional tone. The defiance and rebelliousness of the first movement gave way to a more gentle resignation; no painful consolation emerging from the Ländler theme of the cellos, only bitter grief. In both movements the message was one of plaintive beauty, hopelessness embodied in melody, lyrical without harshness and with not a trace of sentimentality." In the C major Symphony, played with all the repeats, the conductor's pleading gestures conjured up a flowing stream of music. The architecture of the piece seemed in this case to interest him less. For Klaus Geitel (Die Welt) this was a concert of contrasts, "revealed in the oeuvre of one and the same master." Giulini, he wrote, authentically liberated the B minor Symphony from the spurious layers of tradition that have encumbered it with sentimentality. This was like an endgame to the symphonic form, a fragile image of extreme sensibility, hovering on the brink of silence. The C major Symphony followed "with masterful force, in powerfully projected and broadly conceived forms." Excerpt from the note: Helge Grünewald, 2011 Translation: Jonathan Katz
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 9 in C major, D 944 "Great" by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1825-28; Vienna, Austria 
Symphony no 8 in B minor, D 759 "Unfinished" by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1822; Vienna, Austria 

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