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Claudio Abbado In Concert

Abbado,Claudio
Release Date: 07/08/2008 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 001140709  
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus MozartFranz SchubertJohannes BrahmsGioachino Rossini
Performer:  Karita MattilaRobert HollJerry HadleyJorge Antonio Pita,   ... 
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic OrchestraVienna State Opera Chorus KonzertvereinigungMilan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



CLAUDIO ABBADO IN CONCERT Claudio Abbado, cond; Karita Mattila (sop); Marjana Lipovšek (alt); Jerry Hadley (ten); Jorge Pita (ten); Robert Holl (bs); Maurizio Pollini (pn); Vienna PO; Vienna St Op Ch; La Scala O & Ch DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 001140709 (2 DVDs: 143:00) Live: Vienna 11/1986; 1 5/1975; 2 9/1981; 3 Salzburg 8/1972 4


Read more class="COMPOSER12">MOZART Kyrie in d, K 341. 1 Grabmusik: Betracht dies Herz. 1 Vesperae solennes de confessore: Laudate Dominum. 1 SCHUBERT Mass in E?. 1 BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2. 2 ROSSINI Cinderella: Overture. 3 The Barber of Seville: Overture 4


This is an interesting set that shows a much younger Abbado, and the conductor right before his accession to music director of the Vienna State Opera (Schubert). I have not been a fan of the younger Abbado, often finding his interpretations a little willful and distorted, and particularly uninspired. His Alexander Nevsky comes to mind as an example of the latter, and the Tchaikovsky series with the Chicago SO on Sony as part of the former. But as he has aged, his interpretations seem to have deepened (not always the case—just look at Ozawa), and I have in general found many excellent things—often revelatory—in his mature interpretations.


A case in point refers to his Mozart. Abbado has often been criticized for this, and his Sony recordings especially have come in for hard times (I myself have never warmed to his Requiem on DGG, but loved his C-Minor Mass). But here in this concert, the first ever involving the VPO on an All Saints Day performance, he gives us some beautifully shaped and wonderfully sycophantic Mozart, three pieces not often heard in concert, including the captivatingly theatric Kyrie in D Minor, a torso of an uncompleted piece that surely would have found a marvelous finish had Mozart had the inclination. Followed by a lively Grabmusik selection sung by Karita Mattila and ending with the Solemn Vespers , this is about as soft and inviting an All Saints concert as I can imagine.


The Schubert, his last and greatest Mass, is a strange bird, using five soloists (or not using them, actually) in a way that only enhances the predominantly choral singing. Flutes are gone, and the presence of trombones adds to the instrumentation that lends a dark and burnished color to the sound. Abbado takes his time with it, and the playing and singing are impeccable. I cannot say that it tops the version that Shaw gives us on Telarc, more mahogany in color and perhaps a bit more joyful, but it is very fine indeed.


I should mention the sound at this point. I prefer generally the DTS 5.1, though I know some reviewers in this magazine tend to shy away from it and rest comfortably in the more standard PCM. Both are very good, and even though the DTS is “artificial” the surround sound is very nice, and the acoustics are captured beautifully. The same goes for the second disc, where 1975 technology would seem to be a detriment to this kind of production, but in fact is not. Even here the sound is wonderful, including the fake surround. I cannot say the same for the 1972 Rossini, or even the 1981 Cinderella —this sound is glaring and uncomfortable, and recorded at a much louder level than the others—not acceptable.


Video-wise, I much prefer the Brahms concert to the Schubert, for the 1986 is videotaped while the 1975 is filmed, and that makes all the difference in the world. The Schubert concert has some very dull production work, focusing on the conductor and segments of the choir singing (usually the same few singers at that), while the Brahms is far more “artsy” in its approach, making clever use of camera angels, and some beautiful shots of the soloist—Maurizio Pollini demonstrating his thundering left hand and rock-solid right-hand acrobatics. Pollini has often been criticized for a hard edge and unyielding focus to his interpretations, but I must say that I find this Brahms very relaxed and pointed. Abbado actually proves the more demonstrative physicality-wise, as his podium actions (which he loses over the years) are far more energetic than I remember from back then. But he also is an excellent Brahmsian (the early recordings on DGG with multiple orchestras being particular favorites in the symphonies) and shows himself in fine fettle with the Second Piano Concerto as well. Does this top other favorites like Richter/Leinsdorf, Backhaus/Böhm, Kovacevich/Sawallisch, or my favorite, Rubinstein’s last recording of the work with Ormandy in 1971? Probably not, but I daresay anyone who is a fan of Brahms will come away immensely satisfied with this performance.


The Rossini pieces, as I said, are not as well played (mainly due to the scrappy La Scala orchestra), and the sound is not comfortable. On top of that, the last piece ( Cinderella ) is simply a recording while we get a tour of La Scala—and not a very good one at that. Fortunately these are just two small blemishes from an otherwise terrific production, and a nice retrospective of Abbado’s career.

FANFARE: Steven E. Ritter


2 DVD-VIDEO NTSC 073 4442 |G|H 2|
STEREO: PCM / SURROUND: DTS 5.1
Picture Format: 4:3
Subtitles: Latin/German/English/French/Spanish/Chinese Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Kyrie in D minor, K 341 (368a) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus Konzertvereinigung
Period: Classical 
Written: circa 1788; Munich, Germany 
2. Grabmusik, K 42 (35a): Betrachte dies Herz by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Karita Mattila (Soprano)
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1767; Salzburg, Austria 
3. Vesperae solennes de confessore, K 339: Laudate Dominum by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Karita Mattila (Soprano)
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus Konzertvereinigung
Period: Classical 
Written: 1780; Salzburg, Austria 
4. Mass no 6 in E flat major, D 950 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Robert Holl (Bass), Karita Mattila (Soprano), Jerry Hadley (Tenor),
Jorge Antonio Pita (Tenor), Marjana Lipovsek (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus Konzertvereinigung
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; Vienna, Austria 
5. Concerto for Piano no 2 in B flat major, Op. 83 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Maurizio Pollini (Piano)
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878-1881; Austria 
6. Il barbiere di Siviglia: Overture by Gioachino Rossini
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1816; Italy 
7. La Cenerentola: Overture by Gioachino Rossini
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Written: 1817 

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