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Symphony 9
Mahler, Giulini, Chicago Symphony
Symphony 9
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #2

In certain respects Carlo Giulini's 1977 Mahler Ninth is a sonically and orchestrally upgraded counterpart to Bruno Walter's valedictory remake from the early '60s. The Italian conductor's lovingly nuanced first movement...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Mahler, Giulini, Chicago Symphony
Title: Symphony 9
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Polygram Records
Release Date: 11/22/1994
Genre: Classical
Style: Symphonies
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 028943746724

In certain respects Carlo Giulini's 1977 Mahler Ninth is a sonically and orchestrally upgraded counterpart to Bruno Walter's valedictory remake from the early '60s. The Italian conductor's lovingly nuanced first movement and genuine feeling for the Ländler's bumptious gait recalls the older conductor, although Giulini's slower pace for the former allows the more sparsely scored portions more time to breathe. The Chicago brass section truly shines in the Rondo- Burlesque, while the strings dominate Giulini's anguished yet dignified Adagio. While Herbert van Karajan's Berlin Ninths stand alone for surface sheen, DG's closer microphone work in Chicago brings out more detail without detracting from the big picture. A moving souvenir of the Giulini/Chicago partnership. --Jed Distler

CD Reviews

Ridiculous recording 2
Mr Darcy | Australia | 10/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Giulini's recording of Mahler's 9th is like so many of his other performances: extremely individual and crafted in the most exacting way. No note, no detail is glossed over.

It continues to divide critics. The Penguin Guide, whilst admiring the playing of the Chicago Symphony, argues that the performance, surprisingly, betrays a lack of the very quality expected of Giulini: dedication. The late Martin Hibble, in the International Record Review, described the performance as turgid, and, indeed, condemned all of Giulini's recordings for DG or Sony as not worth listening to (despite having previously praised some of these recordings on a radio program that he once hosted).

As my rating indicates, I disagree with these views. The strengths of the performance are most evident in the first movement, which many regard as Mahler's finest piece of symphonic writing. At a measured and sustained tempo, Giulini prepares every facet with great care: the stormy climaxes are the more towering for being built up gradually; quieter passages are executed to achieve an eerie mesmerizing stillness. The overall impression is of something quite frightening, but also unearthly. The movement can seem episodic in some hands (eg Rattle's version with the Vienna Philharmonic), but, with Giulini, the organic quality of the music emerges powerfully.

The main purpose of my review is to address comments made by Michael Leghorn. It is gratifying that someone else has noticed the problem with the recorded sound. The wobble that is present when strings are playing en masse is irritating, although it is not sufficient, in my case, to spoil the entire performance. I had always assumed that it was a recording fault. If, however, it is "artificial vibrato", as suggested, it is, indeed, a disgrace. One thing to note, however, is that the phenomenon is less noticeable on the most recent remastering of the recording (on the DG Originals series)."
DG Originals Remastering is Fantastic
George John | Houston, TX United States | 12/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Having been long frustrated with the recording/engineering problems of my LP version of the 1977 DG Mahler 9th with Giulini and the CSO, I rejoiced when I learned on this forum that the DG "Originals" release had fixed these problems. My local classical shop was able to special order it from Europe, and while it took time to get it and it was not cheap, I'm delighted to report that the wait and the expense were well worth it. In short, a truly outstanding performance has been finally unveiled. Initially, I was concerned because the vibrato of the first violins at the beginning of the first movement is very wide and the section is closely miked. However, either the wide vibrato decreased and the sound stage moved away from the firsts or I adapted, because what was soon presented with was a very nice, well-balanced sound stage, neither too close, nor too far away. But even more important than the recording balance, is Giulini's balanced approach to the music, which reveals more of the detail, especially the inner voices. Some of the solo work is just wonderful. Most memorable is the concertmaster's and especially the 1st horn player who nails all of his (her?) solo's with the most gorgeous tone, and what seems to me perfect execution. Unlike the Solti/Decca performances/recordings, the brass are neither closely miked nor do they too frequently overwhelm the other sections except where appropriate, for example, the "collapse" at around 21:31 into the 1st movement which is appropriately shattering and complete. The sense of loss of meter and time at the end of the 1st movement is simply magical. The orchestra sounds extraordinarily well-rehearsed. Everyone seems completely comfortable with their parts. There seems to be no hesitation anywhere. Even the 3rd movement holds together well, in contrast to other performances I have heard, which at times sound somewhat ragged and incoherent. Listening to this performance was a powerfully moving, deeply emotional and fully satisfying experience. I consider the Mahler 9th to be one of the most challenging works to interpret and perform, and Giulini and the CSO meets the challenge with complete success. The coupling with the Schubert 8th at first seemed odd to me. First, I must say the performance of this work sounds at a minimum very good and is potentially an outstanding performance. I simply don't know since I have no other copy of this work. I played this work back in my days as an amateur cellist. I thought Giulini held the celli back too much at times, but this is of course a matter of taste. Elsewhere, I very much appreciated at how well both viola's and celli dig into the music. Back to the pairing, the coupling now makes sense. Perhaps more than any work I know the Mahler 9th seems to capture well some of the greatest ideas of a Austrian-Germanic tradition that starts with Bach (and what a homage to Bach the 3rd movement of the 9th seems to me to be), moving through the late quartets of Beethoven, and on to the inspired ideas of Wagner and Bruckner, but also points the way forward to the music of the 20th century. Clearly, the Mahler 9th is at the transition of the Romantic and Modern period. And, very much in parallel to the Mahler 9th, so is the Schubert 8th at the crossroads of the Classical and Romantic periods. Something more specific, I was struck at the elongation and thinning of the sound at the end of the Schubert 8th and how much that reminded me of the closing bars of the final movement of the Mahler 9th. They seem to share a common spiritual kinship even though their musical vocabularies are so very different. In summary, this release is easily moves to the top as the finest Mahler performance in my collection and into the top ten of my entire collection. I can easily see why it won so many awards when it was first released even with the handicap of having flawed sound. My hat goes off to the team that remastered this recording. ..."
Giulini & Karajan: Supreme Mahler Conductors
Thomas Hengeveld | Amsterdam, the Netherlands | 05/07/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Inexplaineble why this brilliant recording is never mentioned as one of the greatest Mahler Nines ever. Although he's not the only important Italian Mahler-conductor (don't forget Abbado, Sinopoli, Chailly and the semi-Italian Barbirolli), he's is the only one with a true understaning of the Austrian tradition that is so important and evident in Mahler's music. The reason, ofcourse, is that Giulini grew up in Northern-Italy, near the Austrian border, near Tirol where Mahler composed his last symphonies, in Toblach (now Dobacio, Italy) to be exact. In other words: the young Giulini grew up with Beethoven and Mahler, instead of Verdi and Puccini. This interpretation of Mahler last completed and probably his greatest symphony is in the vein of Walter (his 1962 recording that is!) and Karajan (his 1982 live-recording). The tempi are slow and the sound is beautiful, well shaped, never harsh or sharp like in the Vienna live recording from Rattle (a true "angry young man's" Mahler). The adagio is almost regal, stoic and profoundly moving, unlike Bernsteins tear-jerking aproach. But why does is work exactly? There is something missing in this music, something that's also missing is Das Lied von der Erde, something that sometimes makes the earlier symphonies seem unbearebly mondain and forever imprisoned in their typical fin-de-siecle world. Mahler is missing, his deceased daughter is missing, his impotent marriage, his heart-condition, his debacle with the Vienna Court opera are missing.. Mahler is long gone and so are all the aesthetics, neurosis, progammes, deeper meanings and signifigances. Giulini, like Karajan and (to a lesser extent, Haitink), understands this and lifts the music to a higher platform by just playing the notes as Mahler wrote them."