Composer: Anton Bruckner
Orchestra: Wiener Philharmoniker
Conductor: Carlo Maria Giulini
Number of Discs: 2
Format: FLAC (tracks+cue)
Size: 676 MB
CD 01 Symphony no.7
01. Allegro moderato
02. Adagio sehr feierlich und sehr langsam
03. Scherzo sehr schnell
04. Bewegt noch nicht schnell
CD 02 Symphony no.9
01. Feierlich misterioso
03. Adagio langsam feierlich
Outstanding 7th, less than outstanding 9th
If you can find this set and are a fan of Carlo Maria Giulini’s, it’s worth having. However, if you can’t, worry not, because you have other options (discussed below).
The 7th here is an outstanding performance, in very good stereo sound. Giulini has four recordings (that I’m aware of) of the 7th: this one, the DG VPO (studio) performance, a live BPO performance on Testament, and live recording with the Philharmonia on BBC (which I haven’t heard). Of the three others that I’ve heard, this is definitely the best of the lot. The BPO performance is marred by ragged playing in the first movement and to a lesser extent the 2nd, and also has tempo fluctuations in the 1st movement that are disruptive and don’t work. The studio VPO performance is a bit less vibrant than the live recording here but it still enjoyable. But this is the best of them all.
The recording of the 9th is taken from the series of live concerts that eventually resulted in the release of Giulini’s VPO 9th (recorded live) on DG. Not only is that recording and performance a “10” in every respect, some (including the conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin) have expressed the opinion it is the single greatest recording of any work ever made. I certainly understand the sentiments behind the claim, and they are with merit. This performance, however, has a number of blown entrances, flubs, and imperfections that the DG recording does not have. In conception, the two performances are nearly the same. So anyone who wants Giulini at his best in Bruckner’s 9th must get the DG recording and can be comfortable bypassing this. The DG recording with the VPO is an incredibly powerful, moving, and deeply spiritual performance that is mandatory for any serious lover of Bruckner’s music. By any standards, the DG recording is a “definitive” performance of that great work.