Notes and Editorial Reviews
The Largo is memorably elegiac, and Othello is driven with the intuitive sense of drama that characterizes Abbado's best Brahms, and the closing is truly stirring.
As with Masur, Abbado's performance was recorded live, though it has taken almost three years to reach us. Both conductors observe the first movement's exposition repeat, but where Masur is fairly laid back, Abbado favours a more generous quota of drama. He is also rather more attentive to instrumental detail.
I think, in particular, of the forte bassoons that drive towards the first big statement of the Allegro molto's principal theme (2'22") and the expressive second-violin line that leads into the second set (2'50"). Listen also to
how the violins kick in at 908" into the recapitulation, and to the sheer power of the coda (though there are no crescendos to the trumpet line at 1127"). The Scherzo's 'echoes' (woodwinds answering strings) are very carefully balanced, which greatly clarifies the dramatic effect of Dvorák's writing. Abbado doesn't so much slow clown for secondary episodes as relax into them, but the most telling detail occurs in the second movement, at the brow of a big crescendo (9'28") where the strings — and basses in particular — audibly keep the basic pulse going. On most other recordings, the timpani drown everyone else virtually out of existence.
But there is more to Abbado's New World than mere detail. The Largo's entire central episode is memorably elegiac: beam up 647", then follow the music until the first violins take up the secondary theme over a shimmering accompaniment. No recent recording says it more beautifully. True, the finale doesn't quite match Ancerl's for stealth or judicious timing, but the last minutes truly blaze, and the closing chord fades to a skilfully tapered diminuendo.
Othello is driven with the sort of intuitive sense of drama that characterises Abbado's best Brahms, and the closing pages are truly stirring.
-- Gramophone [3/2000]
Works on This Recording
Othello Overture, Op. 93 by Antonín Dvorák
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Date of Recording: 05/1997
Venue: Live Grosser Saal, Berlin, Germany
Length: 13 Minutes 37 Secs.
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