Notes and Editorial Reviews
Picture format: NTSC 4:3
Sound format: PCM Stereo
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: German, English, French, Spanish
Running time: 123 mins
No. of DVDs: 1 (DVD 9)
Review of the original release on Arthaus Musik 101065 in 1997.
The great Italian maestro Carlo Maria Giulini, 90 this year, has gained a considerable reputation in Bruckner. Surprisingly, in terms of recordings, this rests only on Symphonies 2, 7, 8 and 9, although there are both live and studio recordings of the last three. Here we have a live performance of the Ninth with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra captured on DVD video along with material of approximately equal length
from a rehearsal.
I have never spent much time listening to rehearsals on record. Where they have been included as bonuses on CDs, I have probably never listened to that part of such discs more than once. Seeing as well as hearing undoubtedly makes the experience more interesting. Giulini was over 80 at the time this was made – he almost looks it in rehearsal but not at the concert. Nevertheless he has still had great authority and there was obviously good rapport with the orchestra. Speaking mostly in German but with occasional interjections in Italian (bravissimo!) and even English, he can be followed with subtitles in four languages (see above). There was plenty of body language and, repeatedly, Giulini asked the orchestra to sing. For much of the rehearsal he sang along loudly with orchestra whereas, during the concert, instead he seemed to be counting furiously and, fortunately, inaudibly. Giulini ended the rehearsal by congratulating the orchestra and asking them not to overdo it at the concert – "we’ll just play the notes". One point about the rehearsal that I found surprising was that it did not seem to take place in the concert hall itself.
Perhaps Giulini’s last exhortation was humorous for, at the concert, the excellent Stuttgart orchestra did much more than just play the notes. Giulini came alive and, in the front view camera angle (from slightly below), he looked quite demoniac in parts of the scherzo. As well as singing superbly, Giulini’s Bruckner tends to be long-breathed and glowing but his tempi here were not particularly slow (about 62 minutes in total – the same as his 1976 Chicago recording but about 6 minutes less than he took in Vienna in 1988). He is an absolute master of the difficult transitions and uses slight, natural sounding fluctuations in tempo unobtrusively. The effect is one of great grandeur whilst retaining organic cohesion. The emotional temperature of the adagio was perfectly judged and the concluding bars beautifully sustained. Overall, this was certainly a performance which "came off" and I detected no significant fluffs. The applause at the end did not seem to do it justice. I almost felt resentful towards the audience – didn’t they realize how privileged they were?
In comparison with other DVDs of classical music I have seen/heard, the sound, camera work and picture quality are perfectly fine. My DVD player is a budget one and, despite listening through an amplifier and speakers of high quality, the sound is inevitably not as good as can be obtained on CD. The implication is that anyone in a similar position equipment-wise who has other versions of this symphony may prefer not to play this for the sound only. The documentation does not specify the date or location of the concert but includes reasonable notes on the work, the conductor and his association with this composer.
This seems to be the first Bruckner Ninth on DVD** and is conducted by one of the work’s great exponents. Bravissimo!
Patrick C Waller,
MusicWeb International - (Review of the original release on Arthaus Musik 101065) Read less
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 9 in D minor, WAB 109 by Anton Bruckner
Carlo Maria Giulini
Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1891-1896; Vienna, Austria
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