Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Carlo Maria Giulini in Rehearsal Symphony 9 D Min|
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Giulini made his debut as an opera and concert conductor in the 1940s, then led Milan?s Radio Orchestra and worked at La Scala and Covent Garden. He was principal guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony, principal conducto... more »
A Valuable Documentation of Giulini's Rehearsal Technique...
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 11/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...and a pretty good performance of the Bruckner Ninth Symphony, too. Unfortunately the Stuttgart Radio Symphony has to compete with audio recordings of Giulini conducting far better orchestras--the Vienna Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony.
This DVD comes from 1997 when Giulini was 83 years old and is divided into two sections, a rehearsal and then a concert performance of the Bruckner symphony. The first part is the more interesting to me and I suspect to anyone buying this release, although I must say that the Stuttgarters give him their all in the performance; more about that below. As far as I know this is the only rehearsal DVD of Giulini currently available. When Giulini comes out to begin the rehearsal he looks frail, walks slowly, seems a little diffident (although his German is fluent and idiomatic). But within a few minutes he seems energized and from then on one is much less aware of his advanced age and physical health. (He has just celebrated his 90th birthday but is in poor health, I believe.) He is uniformly kind and collegial in his approach to the orchestral musicians, yet he is able to stop and get precisely what he wants from individual musicians or sections of the orchestra. There is one point where he is not getting what he wants from the trumpets and trombones and one can see him slightly losing patience after a couple of repetitions of the same passage, but then there is a rather obvious edit before yet another repetition and one never quite hears whether they give him what he wants. Later, in the concert performance, though, it is clear that they managed what he wanted--it had to do with a diminuendo to pianissimo that leads to a quick return to a mezzo-piano that allows the first trumpet to bring out the thematic line that otherwise would be lost in the surrounding harmony.
Throughout the hour-long rehearsal section, Giulini is an efficient rehearser and does not lose any time with philosophizing or unnecessary chatter. He gives strictly musical and technical instructions. He is free with compliments, muttering 'Schön' or 'Bravi' from time to time.
As he grew older Giulini tended, in this repertoire, to get slower and broader in his tempi. One can trace this with his three recordings of the Bruckner Ninth. Interestingly, this one, eight years after his masterful 1989 audio recording with the Vienna Philharmonic, is several minutes faster. Perhaps that is because this was a live recording. I certainly can't pretend to know. But familiarity with two of those three earlier recordings allows me to make some comparisons. There is one spot 5 minutes into the Second Movement--at the lead in to a return to the main theme--where he makes a rather breathless accelerando that was not so obvious in the earlier recordings and frankly it stuck out as rather artificial to me. But otherwise I don't detect any obvious tempi alterations as compared with the earlier recordings. I do suspect that the first movement is where the alteration lies. In any event, it is a matter of only three or four minutes overall. As in his previous recordings, the exalted Third Movement brings out the best in Giulini. He was always, and particularly so in his later years, what I would call a 'spiritual' conductor. His recording of the Mahler Ninth with the Chicago, for instance, bears that out. And that is certainly true here; perhaps here it seems partly so because of Bruckner's use of a theme in the last movement that is reminiscent of the Dresden Amen. For me, this last movement is the high point of the performance. It is clear that the Stuttgart orchestra is caught up and they play like angels. They do not have the depth of sound that the Vienna or the Chicago do, but the strings have enough velvet and the horns and Wagner tubas in particular sound pretty close to those of the VPO. Overall, this is worthy performance and it is a treasure to be able to SEE Giulini conduct.
A worthwhile issue.
A worthy testament to a great artist
Mr Darcy | Australia | 03/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I enjoyed this DVD immensly, although i found the second half of the program (the actual performance) the more satisfying. Had the rehearsal sequence been backed up by, perhaps, an interview with Giulini about his thoughts on Bruckner, the 9th symphony etc, it would have been more revealing. As it is, we get a series of episodes which, as one of the other reviewers indicated, are mainly concerned with dynamics and balance rather than the deeper issues of interpretation. There is one point, during the scherzo where Giulini indicates to the orchestra that we need to look more closely at the notes: it would have been good to see the ensuing exchanges, but we don't.
As to the performance itself, as other reviewers have noted, it is somewhat different from his earlier performances. To me, it has a slightly more flowing lyricism than the others, and the last movement seems to end on a more positive, less hushed note. But the similarities generally outweigh the differences. The outer movements are still broad and grandly conceived, and the second movement is mightily powerful (and quite fast like the performance with the VPO).
The orchestra plays well. There are no glaring fluffs, as far as I could tell. The strings produce quite a lush, warm sound - very Giulini, and are well complemented by the horns. On occasions, the woodwind seemed slightly sour. The trumpets and trombones were perhaps the least impressive, not because they did anything particularly wrong, but because their sound was a bit raw and not very well integrated with the rest of the orchestra. But these are fairly minor points.
To see Giulini, a favourite conductor of mine, at 83 years of age on the podium, is quite inspiring. Though I am no expert on conducting, not once did I detect that he was not in absolute command of his brief. His gestures on the podium are ardent, but firm. One unusual aspect of the performance is that Giulini uses a score, which, in his earlier days, he never used. Perhaps, at 83, he needed the reassurance of a score.
The sound and picture quality are good. I also liked the way in which the performance was filmed - there is no excessive emphasis on the conductor or on particular sections of the orchestra, and close-ups are fairly imaginitively done. One disappointment, however, occurs at the climax of the last movement when we are presented with a wide angle view of the orchestra from the back of the hall. It would have been much more effective to have seen a close up front shot of Giulini.
Finally, one oddity to note is that the rehearsal takes place in a different location from the concert."
Good rehearsal document, a worhty performance.
L. Chisholm | Denton, TX United States | 12/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Great DVD. Buy it.
Picture is great, sound is excellent. The subtitles are good. First half is rehearsal excerpts, about 57min-27 for mvt. I, 8 for mvt. II, and 21 for mvt. III. The performance is about an hour.
Its hard to tell the merits of a performance (and worse, compare to other performances and performers) since it is only a recording . It ultimately becomes a purely subjective exercise making comparisons and contrasts, something music critics shamefully do in abundance, and it becomes pointless to actual artistic merit of the performance at hand. And certainly, not many critics actually bother to study the score to make their determinations!
The rehearsal excerpts were slightly disappointing for my taste. I am a musician and would have appreciated a more detailed approach. He went more for balance and dynamics. But to be fair, this was a dress rehearsal, so I will assume that most of the details and philosophical ideas were already worked out. And incidentally, I like it when a conductor wants to talk about a work during rehearsal rather than sleepwalk through rehearsals and then play the concert-this unfortunately happens in most world-class orchestras to the detriment of the musical experience. But for the general public, and most are non-musicians, this rehearsal is probably more tolerable and understandable. They will like it.
There are plenty of great shots of Mr. Giulini. His fans will be delighted! He knows the score and lets the musicians play with their hearts. His gestures are calm and simple, which brings out more of the power of the work.
I enjoyed it thoroughly!!