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Bruckner: Symphony No.2

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Oct. 1 2001)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Testament
  • ASIN: B00005K3PZ
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #101,347 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Most helpful customer reviews

Carlo Maria Giulini has managed to confound the critics throughout his career. Just as they thought they could pigeonhole him he would go in a totally different direction. From Italian opera to Britten or Franck to Bruckner. Giulini has given us very fine recordings of the 7th , 8th and 9th symphonies but his first recorded Bruckner was far from a safe choice. It is this recording from 1975 of the rarely played then , and even now, 2nd Symphony for EMI using the 1877 version edited by Leopold Nowak. Far too many performances of this work seem tentative as if the conductor is not quite sure what to make of it. Giulini does not have that problem finding a nobility and vitality in this work that makes no excuses for it and puts it on par with Bruckner's later works. Testament, under license from EMI, is owed a hearty thank for restoring this recording to circulation. It was deleted rather fast in the 1970's when most listeners then found it hard to associate Giulini and Bruckner. That barrier was broken by his subsequent Bruckner recordings. Hopefully listeners will now discover this forgotten gem.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
One of the greatest Bruckner interpretations June 16 2005
By Richard Steiger - Published on
Verified Purchase
My first reaction to hearing this disc was "Someone opened the windows and let the fresh air into this symphony." Corrupt text and all, this performance is absolutely gorgeous from beginning to end. The analogue sound is beatiful and rich, allowing us to hear every note of Bruckner's orchestration (particularly the winds, which emerge with astonishing clarity throughout the performance). The cellos' rendition of the second theme of the first movement is particularly beautiful. The scherzo is exciting, and the finale exultant. No matter how many interpretations of Bruckner symphonies you own, you need to add this one to your collection (and while you're at it, add Giulini's DGG performances of the Eighth and Ninth). You'll never hear more enjoyable Bruckner.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Fine but flawed June 20 2007
By P. Edwin - Published on
I do not like to read great, lengthy novels that have been abridged, nor do I like to listen to great lengthy symphonies that have been cut. This is what you get with this acclaimed recording. Giulini uses the 1877[Nowak Edition]version of this most lyrical of symphonies. and subsequently too many beautiful moments are lost, particularly in the finale. [Remember, that Bruckner was greatly disturbed by the contemporary reaction to the symphony].The Schubertian elements of this lovely work are downplayed,too, making this interpretation sound like a later Bruckner work.
Sure, the orchestra playing is impressive, the conducting is impressive, and the sound quality is more than acceptable, but not as impressive.
To return to the caveat, to hear this symphony in all its glory look no further than to Tintner on Naxos. It is cheaper, has better sound, distinguished conducting, and you get to hear the whole work, as it was intended. Compare the timing: Over 71 minutes for the Tintner, and a tad over 58 for the Giulini. If you are in a hurry, then the Giulini fits the bill. Otherwise look to Tintner.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By Brucknerian2006 - Published on
First before reviewing the performance I am wholly obliged to note the exceptional quality of Bruckner's mighty symphony 2 in C minor. This key often denotes fate and deep melancholy, yet in this work there is not a trace of demoralized sadness, instead it seems to tell of mighty happenings in the present and to come, indeed I thought of the apocalypse in certain passages, and remembered the 8th in C minor also contains a prophetic tiding. Often thought of as more subtle and benign than its predecessor the 1st also in C minor, this symphony is just as exciting and well written. The themes are so plentiful and perfect illustrations of Bruckner's melodic genius that one is hard pressed to not appreciate it as much as the other great symphonies. Indeed the more I hear this work the more it has grown on me and its character and beauty of structure and content becomes even more apparent. Another wonderful quality of Bruckner's 2nd are its links both thematically and orchestrationally to the classical era, as well as Schubert and Beethoven. One could go on for lines lauding this work of art. Suffice it to say this symphony is just as wonderful to listen to as the 8th, 1st, or 4th. Now for the performance.

Guilini has conducted a splendid performance. The scherzo never sounded so expansive and exciting. However in comparison with other performances it is hard to find a favorite, they all impart their own virtues. Guilini seems to give this performance and larger canvas, as if he was conducting the 9th, this comes out splendidly in the scherzo and finale. Overall the acoustics and instrumental clarity in each section of the orchestra is satisfactory, perhaps the timpani could have been a little more noticable. Do not miss this performance, for two reasons:

1. Guilini and the orchestra perform beautifully

2. Bruckner's symphony 2 is a treasure one cannot do without
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Worth hearing, but not a successful reading, let alone a first choice Nov. 27 2010
By Mogulmeister - Published on
I think most others have had a much more favorable response to this performance and interpretation than I have. It has the ingredients to be a great performance, but it falls quite short of that. In its favor, anything that Carlo Maria Giulini does is worth a listen, especially his Bruckner. He brings to this symphony a genuine understanding and reverence for Bruckner's astonishing music. The symphony gets off to an exceptionally strong start with the first movement, which is done better than any other performance I've heard. It's urgent, white-hot, and Giulini plays up the stresses and dissonances in the music more than most performances, setting up the rest of the symphony *really* well. And then it's all downhill from there. The second movement, one of the most spiritual movements Bruckner ever wrote, lies flat and inert, two-dimensional rather than three-dimensional. The third movement has no bite or urgency at all, it's more like a frolic. And the fourth movement, with the cuts observed (which totally disrupt the structure), seems in a rush to just get it over with, missing so much along the way. It's too bad, because I really think Giulini is capable of much better than this. Certainly his Bruckner performances grew more imposing as time went on, culminating in the overwhelmingly magnificent performance of Bruckner's 9th with the Vienna Philharmonic on DG--a must if you haven't purchased it.

Fortunately, there is a GREAT performance of Bruckner's 2nd available, and that's Karajan's performance with the Berlin Philharmonic on DG, available as a part of his boxed set, or as a single disc if you look for on the website that maintains a remarkable Arkiv (hint hint). While the sound is less than optimal, the performance is stunning and moving beyond words. Anyone who suggests that Bruckner's 2nd symphony is anything less than a masterpiece has not heard Karajan's white-hot, passionate, deeply spiritual, and tremendously moving performance. Those who love Bruckner must hear it. Horst Stein's recording with the Vienna Philharmonic on Decca/London is also very good, but certainly not in the same league as Karajan's definitive performance (though not definitive recording).
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Guilini's Bruckner 2 is Sublime Nov. 8 2006
By James W. - Published on
When listening to this performance of the 2nd Symphony, I inately sense that there could be no better interpretation. No exaggeration, yet powerfully emotive and moving. This recording makes me love this early Bruckner symphony on a par with the massive 8th and 9th. Guilini brings the perfect subtlety, emotion, and phrasing detail without the slightest affectation. It combines a slow tempo and softness, yet at the same time, has power, authority, and drama. The slow movement is so heartfelt it's difficult for me not to shed a tear, even while listening in the car on a busy freeway. The playing and ensemble is excellent, sound quality very good 70s engineering, with perhaps a slight lack of dynamic range in the crescendos (very minor drawback). This performance is a great alternative to more aggressive and quicker performances, such as Wand's, which is an equally exciting way to do this symphony. But this Guilini/VSO performance is very exciting Bruckner.