This set would seem to be self-recommending: a composer, conductor and orchestra perfectly at one – and yet these late recordings of the Italian maestro have never before been gathered in one set.
There are, of course, other recordings of Giulini conducting Brahms, and with other fine orchestras. But the glow of the Vienna Philharmonic, especially in their own hall of the Musikverein, lends this always ambivalent music an additional richness without the burden of (German?) weightiness that can sometimes encumber Brahms. Giulini’s tempi by this stage in his life were steady, to be sure, but animated from within, just as his own interpretative experience was shaped by playing viola under the great conductors of a former generation in Rome’s Augusteo Orchestra.
If the Four Symphonies have their own personalities, ranging from the exuberance of the First to the brooding of the Fourth, then Giulini fills out such facile summaries with the fullest possible sense of these works as human dramas, sun and shade from bar to bar, in which the middle two symphonies must rank among his greatest achievements on record.
Includes an appreciation of Giulini in Brahms by the writer Richard Osborne.
Symphonies Nos. 1-4 (Complete)
Tragic Overture, Op. 81
Variations on a theme by Haydn for orchestra, Op. 56a 'St Anthony Variations'