For this 2017 CSO-Resound release, Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra present Anton Bruckner's unfinished Symphony No. 9 in D minor in a monumental performance that impresses with its marmoreal weight, poignant lyricism, and brutal volatility. Not widely known for his few Bruckner recordings, Muti nonetheless delivers this symphony with the passion and sensitivity of an experienced Brucknerian, and possibly because he hasn't recorded it before, this live rendition of the Ninth seems like an attempt to make up for lost time. Muti's intensity and the orchestra's ferocious power combine to make a memorable reading that may remind listeners of performances by such greats as Günter Wand, Eugen Jochum, and particularly Carlo Maria Giulini, whose recordings of the Ninth are recognized benchmarks. While Muti only performs the three completed movements, and eschews any attempted reconstructions of the surviving Finale sketches, the performance has a genuine feeling of wholeness, and the Adagio particularly has the grandeur and pathos that make it feel like a convincing ending, albeit one that the composer did not intend.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has long been renowned for the sound of its brass section. This CD features the symphony's brass in a selection of pieces that span almost 250 years, including some works originally written for brass and some transcriptions of works for keyboard, orchestra, or band. It's a diverse and appealing program that effectively shows off the players' virtuosity and should interest any fans of brass.
Even as he is most closely associated with the music of Wagner and Beethoven, conductor Georg Solti enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the orchestral music of Johannes Brahms. Solti's own personal preferences in terms of Brahms, judging based on his performance history, were slanted toward the Haydn Variations, German Requiem, and the concerti, but in the late '70s he undertook a cycle of the symphonies with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for Decca London that some expert listeners feel have never been bettered since.
Claudio Abbado was an Italian conductor. One of the most celebrated and respected conductors of the 20th century, particularly in the music of Gustav Mahler, he served as music director of the La Scala opera house in Milan, principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, principal guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, music director of the Vienna State Opera, founder and director of Lucerne Festival Orchestra, music director of European Union Youth Orchestra and principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra.
…On this release Reiner and his orchestra are in glorious form. The quality of these Strauss family waltzes can survive even the most inept amateur and hand-organ grinder. In the hands of Reiner, however, the waltzes sound marvellous and are a real joy. Reiner was conducting in Vienna as early as 1915 and one can clearly hear that the Viennese stamp of authenticity is attached to these performances. The spirit of Vienna is also perpetuated with the Chicago Symphony having several Vienna-trained members at the time of these recordings. Reiner is able effortlessly to adapt to the contrasting moods and fast-changing tempos. He manages to deliver real excitement and an anticipation of what is to come next. He knows how to obtain the slight buoyancy on the second beat, an almost inaudible accent after an almost inaudible pause…
This is the second in a two-box series of Giulini in America releases, reissuing recordings from the Italian conductor that have long been out of print. The first box covered Carlo Maria Giulini's recordings from the late 1970s and early 1980s with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and focused on Beethoven and Brahms; these, from the mid-'70s, feature the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and are partly devoted to late Romantic pieces that put the famed Chicago brasses to work.