It was an eminently sensible decision to couple Zimerman's previously separate Chopin concertos on a single CD. The Ax/Ormandy/RCA disc is the only rival as a coupling, so let me say at once that in different moods I would be equally happy with either. The main difference, I think, is the actual sound. From DG we get a closer, riper sonority, with Zimerman's piano much more forwardly placed. Both orchestra and piano are more distanced on the RCA recording, especially Ax's piano. This, together with Ax's lighter, more translucent semiquaver figuration (and sometimes his greater willingness to stand back and merely accompany—as in certain episodes in the F minor Concerto's finale) often conjures up visions of Chopin himself at the keyboard, and we know he was often criticized for insufficiently strong projection.
When Carlo Maria Giulini returned to conducting public performances of opera after an absence of fourteen years, he chose for the occasion one of the enduring comic masterpieces - Verdi's Falstaff. The composer was almost eighty when he broke the six-year silence following the premiere of Otello, and startled the musical world by revealing his complete mastery of comic invention. Renato Bruson, the renowned interpreter of Verdi and one of the leading lyric baritones of the day, sings the title role.
"…Giulini's conducting incorporates elements of Furtwängler's and Toscanini's styles. His dynamism and purity of sound are reminiscent of Toscanini, but the spacious, Romantic approach reminds one of Furtwängler. His particular attentiveness to inner voices results in a rich sound. Giulini eschews podium theatrics or autocratic attitudes. Instead, he approaches the musicians as co-workers serving the music…"