Claudio Abbado and his hand-picked players of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra take their acclaimed Mahler cycle to a new level with this performance of the most complex and compelling of the symphonies, the intense, searching Ninth. Abbado brings all his renowned clarity of vision and the experience of a lifetime to this contradictory music – half valedictory, half life-affirming – and his “orchestra of soloists”, including some of the leading instrumentalists of our time, revels in the transparent textures and virtuosity of Mahler’s last completed symphony. “A rendition … of astonishing depth and subtlety” (Daily Telegraph).
Claudio Abbado was undeniably the supreme Mahler conductor of our time. With his Lucerne Festival Orchestra he has set new standards in the field of classical music, especially in the interpretation of works by Gustav Mahler. The core of the orchestra is provided by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, itself an élite body of players. Soloists like violinist Kolja Blacher, clarinettist Sabine Meyer, oboist Albrecht Mayer, violist Wolfram Christ, cellist Natalia Gutman, the Hagen Quartet and members of the Alban Berg Quartet to name just a few, make the Lucerne Festival Orchestra a star-studded ensemble.
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.
A “touching and magnificent reunion” (Der Standard). The public and press enthusiastically celebrated the long-awaited return of Claudio Abbado to the Salzburg Festival in 2012. The conductor brought with him Mozart’s youthful Mass K. 139, the so-called Waisenhausmesse, and Schubert’s late Mass in E flat major. In a fascinating way, Abbado succeeded in merging the singers and instrumentalists into a total collaborative effort: “Seldom has one heard such a perfect balance between choir, orchestra, and vocal soloists; one has also seldom heard such a beautifully coordinated and perfectly balanced vocal ensemble” (Salzburger Nachrichten).
This thought-provoking, modern-day interpretation of Rossini’s “Mosè in Egitto” sets the scene for superior music-making at the prestigious Rossini Festival in Pesaro. For conductor Roberto Abbado, the transposition of the action to the present day releases the energy of Rossini’s music. At his disposal is a cast of top-quality vocalists such as the “refined bel canto artist” (Bresciaoggi) Sonia Ganassi as Elcia, and the “outstanding” Dmitry Korchak as the Pharaoh’s son, two lovers fatefully drawn into the political turmoil and catastrophes of their time. Also among the protagonists are the “thoroughly brilliant” (DeutschlandRadio Kultur) baritone Alex Esposito as Faraone and, in his Rossini Festival debut, young, full-bodied bass Riccardo Zanellato as Moses. Conductor Roberto Abbado “inspired his musicians to deliver a spectacular performance” (Salzburger Nachrichten).
Juan Diego Flórez stars in the only available blu-ray version of Zelmira, filmed at the celebrated Rossini Festival in the composer s home town of Pesaro. The final opera Rossini wrote for Naples is a dramatic and musical tour de force and a magnificent showcase for the bel canto superstar of our time. Recorded in high definition at the 2009 Festival, Giorgio Barberio Corsettis production places the classical tale, set during the Trojan Wars, in modern times and modern dress. Joining Juan Diego Flórez are a major international cast, described as near miraculous by Opera Today and led by American mezzo-soprano Kate Aldrich in the virtuosic title role. The evening remained another distinguished triumph for Juan Diego Flórez as Prince Ilo, whose arrival in his homeland, to rescue Zelmira, was marked by a dazzling tenorial display which evoked a nearly twenty-minute ovation (Opera Today) .
The first new release for ten years from Martha Argerich and Claudio Abbado is their first ever album of concertos by Mozart. The legendary pianist and conductor add the sublime music of Mozart to their unrivaled, multi award-winning DG discography of concertos by Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Ravel, Prokofiev, Beethoven and Liszt. Both concertos were recorded with Claudio Abbado s Orchestra Mozart, at concert performances at the 2013 Lucerne Festival that had critics searching for new superlatives. The album contrasts two very different works. Written in D minor, the key of the Queen Of the Night and the opening of Mozart s Requiem, the darkly dramatic No.20, K.466 has a stormy, operatic temperament that looks forward eighteen months to the premiere of Don Giovanni. With its majestic and radiant opening and a march famously reminiscent of the Marseillaise, No.25 in C major, K.503 is the culmination of the twelve transcendent concertos Mozart wrote in Vienna between 1784 and 1786. This release is Martha Argerich s first recording of solo concertos by Mozart on Deutsche Grammophon.
This new recording of…the great D minor, K466, made last November with the LSO under Abbado, is immensely welcome. The old magic is still there: the ability to make every semiquaver in a run count: the way he can invest even quite 'innocent' music…with real meaning and character; the pathos and lyricism he brings to the slow movements; and the tension and drama he reveals in the outer movements of K466.
Abbado's splendid Petrushka was among the very first CDs to be reviewed in these pages. Robert Layton extended a warm welcome in March 1983. The fact that it appeared with no coupling didn't seem to bother him unduly at the time; I've no doubt that it would today. … The Petrushka is full of sensitive and dramatic detail: I don't know of a more intense account of the poignant scene in Petrushka's tiny backstage cell—all shadow and nervous apprehensiveness. Nor have we seen any more clearly into the elaborate texturing of the outer tableaux (this is the more lavishly scored original version); the tactility of the inner-part writing is constantly arresting. Vividly and imaginatively characterized, these performances are shining examples of Abbado's best work with the LSO. (from the review of the Mussorgsky/Stravinsky reissue DG 423901)
Bartók's Piano Concertos are among the most difficult ever written; only a piano virtuoso of amazing dexterity, along with a virtuoso orchestra, can play them. Maurizio Pollini is that pianist, and the Chicago Symphony is that orchestra. The pianist's command of the music is consistently impressive, and Claudio Abbado leads the orchestra in extremely close sympathy with the pianist. The result is a set of performances that would be ideal except for two factors. One is that this LP reissue contains only two Concertos, when all three can fit on one CD. The other is that the recording balance so undervalues the orchestra that you can't hear everything. I'd love to hear these artists rerecord the same music with better engineering. –Leslie Gerber