In February 2001 Abbado and the BPO were guests at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome to perform the Beethoven symphonies. For these, Abbado chose to use a new edition by Jonathan del Mar, which consists of existing manuscripts, and "corrections by Beethoven," which gave the conductor the opportunty to "throw new light on his reading, which takes a consistent and lucid approach to articulation, phrasing and dynamics." The conductor elected to use fewer strings, reducing the bass group in symphonies 1, 2, 4 and 8 to only three double basses and four cellos. He also uses only two horns in symphony 5, three in symphony 3. The result is an uncommonly transparent listening experience. And the performances are spirited to say the least, no dawdling here whatever. There always is a forward impetus to these dynamic performances which are magnificently executed by the orchestra.
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.
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.
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.
A studio recording made in association with staged performances in Vienna in 1989 features the very beefy Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Abbado with Agnes Baltsa’s tangy mezzo giving a very characterful portrayal as Isabella. …[E]xpert Rossinians Corbelli and Enzo Dara sing Haly and Taddeo and are joined by a very characterful Ruggero Raimondi as Mustafa. Despite the size of the band, the performance goes along with zip with the finale of act one particularly invigorating.–Robert J. Farr
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”.