Five years after first conducting the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra in their Venezuelan home, Claudio Abbado continues his commitment to this stunning ensemble in this first joint audiovisual concert recording. Prokofiev's extrovert Scythian Suite is a gift for the boundless energy of these young players, while the intricacy and anguish of Berg's Lulu-Suite are an Abbado speciality, with soprano Anna Prohaska, in her Lucerne Festival debut, singing the heroine's dazzling statement of self-justification. The concert ends with an impassioned account of Tchaikovsky's Pathétique, his final symphony, one of the most moving works in music history.
All are equal before the work, before the mysteries of a score; this was Claudio Abbados heart-felt conviction. For him, the willingness to be open to one another and to the independent life of musical processes was the only prerequisite for making music. In the live performances documented here for the first time, Abbado could be sure of the devotion of these world-class artists: the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA, the sopranos Christine Schäfer and Juliane Banse, as well as the actor Bruno Ganz. They shared his credo of listening togetherness (Die ZEIT) that made possible those precious moments of musical truth toward which this great conductor strove throughout his life.
With his very own “mysterious seductive power and legendary elegance” (Le Monde), Claudio Abbado opened for the last time the LUCERNE FESTIVAL in the summer of 2013. Only a few months later, the world had to bid farewell to a monumental artist, humanist, great conductor and orchestra founder. Even in the concert itself, documented here, lived a moment of farewell, as the three great works performed tell of the transience of life. The centerpiece of the Eroica is the funeral march revealing “abysses of shattering dimension” - an “intense experience” (Neue Zürcher Zeitung). This record, the last audio-visual documentation of his work, captures once again the extraordinary atmosphere of “vibrant emotionality” that always emerged when Abbado created music with his “orchestra of friends”.
In November 2004 a new name caused listeners to prick up their ears on the international orchestral scene: under Claudio Abbado’s artistic guidance the Orchestra Mozart came into being. It combines both young instrumentalists on the threshold of a first-rate career as well as eminent chamber musicians such as Danusha Waskiewicz, Alois Posch, Jacques Zoon, Michaela Petri, Ottavio Dantone, Mario Brunello, Alessio Allegrini, Jonathan Williams and Reinhold Friedrich. As with his famous Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Abbado hand-picked an ensemble to his liking, this time one of early- and Baroque-music specialists, all masters in their field.
Claudio Abbado (1933-2014) was one of the outstanding personalities in the history of the Berliner Philharmoniker. He made his debut with the orchestra in 1966 and was their chief conductor from 1990 to 2002. In May 2013, their unique partnership ended with Claudio Abbado's last concert with the orchestra – a “triumph”, in the words of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The programme included two of the most important works of musical Romanticism: Hector Berlioz's visionary Symphonie fantastique and Felix Mendelssohn's magical, shimmering music for A Midsummer Night's Dream. Audio and video recordings of this memorable evening are now being released in a hardcover luxury edition. The bonus material includes a historical documentary about Abbado's first year as chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker. In addition to extensive texts, the booklet contains numerous photos, some of which have never been published before.
Arguably Modest Mussorgsky's greatest work, Khovanshchina was incomplete at the time of his death and so this glorious production, from the Vienna State Opera, employs Shostakovich's scoring with the addition of the final chorus composed by Stravinsky in 1913. It is a work of immense power and humanity, set at the time when Peter the Great assumed power in Russia, a turning point in Russia's history when old forces came into conflict with new. Political intrigue, religious persecution, the tragedy of a nation, all form a backdrop against which individual dramas are acted out. The great Bulgarian bass, Nicolai Ghiaurov sings Prince Ivan Khovansky, the leader of the revolutionary Streltsys and Paata Burchuladze sings Dositheus, the leader of the Old Believers. Fellow Russians, including Ludmila Semtschuk as Marfa and Vladimir Atlantov as Khovansky's son, complete this formidable cast. This live recording of Alfred Kirchner's production of Khovanshchina is conducted by Claudio Abbado. Triumphantly hailed as "one of the great performances of our day, an unforgettable display of skill and sympathy combined", by the Financial Times, it is a recording to treasure.
This is one of those great Rossinian singing competitions in which everyone–and, in particular, the listeners–wins. Composed as a piece of occasional entertainment for the coronation of Charles X in Paris, Rossini borrowed liberally from his recent comic success Le Comte Ory and fashioned a musical necklace chock filled with one shiny bauble after another. Each character has a showpiece aria, from the highs of soprano Cecilia Gasdia as a melodramatic poetess all the way down to the basso realms of Samuel Ramey and Ruggero Raimondi. The ensembles are as delicious as the solos, and Claudio Abbado, in a very theatrical mood (this was recorded live) keeps everything going wittily and with great elan. The plot is practically nonexistent, but with singing like this, it's hard to complain. A real dazzler–and great fun.–Robert Levine
Abbado's Verdi recordings are some of the finest available and this Requiem recording is no expection. Abbado takes a less ferocious approach than say Muti, or Barenboim, balancing the dramatic moments effectively against the more introspective aspects of the score. Ricciarelli is in fine form here, singing with a fine sense of line and intense emotional declamation. Her intonation is perfect. Verrett blends seamlessly with Ricciarelli, making the most of their duet and capturing the intense sadness of much of the writing quite well. Domingo, in his first recording of the part, provides a steady stream of golden tone, effortlessly produced. His emotional temperature runs about right here - not overly dramatic - after all, this is not Aida - but strong feelings kept on a tight rein. Ghiaurov is phenomenal. His gigantic bass somehow anchoring the entire quartet and chorus into an imposing yet gorgeous Verdian soundscape. There are many excellent Verdi Requiem recordings - this is surely one of the very best.