Giulini conducts Rossini Overtures
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Pressing: ED1 (semi-circle first)
Price range: $25-124, $44
Comments: I apologize for going out of order here again, but I was just in the mood for Rossini this evening. Who doesn't like Rossini's overtures? These are some of the most fun, most energetic, most uplifting orchestral works ever written, with melodies and themes which will remain branded in your memory for a lifetime. This recording was actually Giulini's second record of Rossini Overtures for Columbia. The first was a collection of both Rossini and Verdi Overtures released as SAX 2377 which included the overtures to L'Italiana in Algeri, Il Barbieri de Siviglia, Il Signor Bruschino, and La Scala di Seta. Interestingly, the next album issued by Columbia in the SAX series (SAX 2378) was yet another album of Rossini overtures with the Philharmonia, this time with Karajan conducting. Giulini picks up where he left off with the overtures to La Cenerentola, Tancredi, La Gazza Ladra, Semiramide, and Guglielmo Tell. I haven't had the chance to sample SAX 2378 for comparison, but Giulini's Rossini sounds just right to me. The Philharmonia is in fine form here, and my ears couldn't pick up any obvious problems with balance or intonation. Tempos are well judged, and one can really feel the life in these works. Rossini's many crescendos are handled very well by Giulini, who is able to gradually build up the musical tension. The sound is warm and clear with a good dynamic range throughout the entire album. The soundstage is fairly wide and comparably wider to the one heard in Karajan's SAX recording with a closer presentation of the orchestra (Karajan's Philharmonia sounds a bit more recessed). One of the small things I will sometimes listen for when I compare recordings of these Rossini overtures is the snare drum part heard throughout La Gazza Ladra. On this recording, it is deep, crisp, and clear with nice spatial separation from the other instruments in the orchestra without sounding overbearing.
This album is not only very available, it is quite affordable. In fact, I just picked up a second copy in NM- condition on Ebay for $9.99! Snatch it up if you can. The music will bring you much enjoyment, and you can appreciate the vitality and humor in Rossini's music in very fine sound. If you prefer to go digital, it has been recently remastered and reissued by EMI (including the overtures on SAX 2377) and can be purchased in the budget to mid-range price. The CD is also excellent. Another fine vinyl alternative is Pierino Gamba's recording with the London Symphony Orchestra on Decca, another fabulous sounding album from the golden age of classical recording.