Recorded live at a concert in the large hall of the Musikverein in Vienna in November 1991, this performance of Verdi’s dramatic Requiem is really commanding. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the chorus of the Vienna State Opera respond appropriately to Abbado’s exciting but not over-operatic handling of the work, and the recording is admirably clear. The soloists are a fine and well-matched quartet.
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.
In his final performances with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in August 2013, Claudio Abbado conducted Anton Bruckner's unfinished Symphony No. 9 in D minor, and this recording is drawn from the best takes from those concerts. Considering that this rendition came near the end of Abbado's life and stands as a worthy testament to his achievements, it's easy to read too much into the interpretation, and to view it as a mystical or transcendent reading because of the circumstances. On the one hand, Abbado's understanding of this symphony was as thorough as any conductor's, and the Lucerne musicians played with seriousness and dedication, offering a version that has impressive power and expressive depth. On the other hand, there are many competitive recordings that either match Abbado's for strength and feeling, or surpass it in purely technical terms of sound quality and reproduction. Certainly the sound is exceptional, according to Deutsche Grammophon's high standards, and this stereo recording is exceptionally clean and noise-free.
In February 2001 the Berliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado were guests at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome with all Beethoven symphonies. Their success was overwhelming with standing ovations after each performance. “Abbado, a Furtwängler admirer in principle, seems ever more Italian, his tauter lyricism allied to a sense of forward movement influenced, we are told, by period practice. The surprise is not the Mediterranean luminosity and scrupulous attention to instrumental detail - one expects nothing less from this source - but the animating sense of line. The Seventh Symphony… knows precisely where it's going and why… The sense of joy present throughout is overwhelming by the close.” - Gramophone Magazine.
Claudio Abbado is one of the leading conductors of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. He has held a number of prestigious posts, any one of which would be a crowning achievement for a conductor, and his musical presence in both concert and recordings has left an undeniable legacy of excellence. His family traces its roots to a prominent Moorish family expelled from Spain in 1492 and is said to include the architect of the Alhambra. His father was Michelangelo Abbado, a violinist and teacher who gave both Claudio and his brother, Marcello Abbado, their first piano and music lessons (Marcello has gone on to become a pianist and composer)… ~ Joseph Stevenson, Rovi