Claudio Abbado, Lucerne Festival Orchestra – Bruckner: Symphony No 9 (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Digital Booklet | 614 MB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | © Deutsche Grammophon
In January 2014, music lovers worldwide were saddened to learn that Claudio Abbado had passed away. Deutsche Grammophon feels immensely blessed and proud to be releasing together with Accentus Music Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, which was recorded as part of Abbado’s final concert.
The concert received very positive reviews from the press:
“Mr. Abbado led an otherworldly account of Bruckner’s 9th Symphony. Never have I heard as magisterial and moving performance of the work as that given by the 80-year-old maestro and his fabulous Lucerne Festival Orchestra.” (Wall Street Journal)
The most recent Abbado / Mozart release featuring Martha Argerich has not only received critical acclaim worldwide, but did really well commercially: the album entered the pop charts in Italy at 16 and is still in the German classical charts at number 4.
With 40,000 units sold today, it is one of DG’ s bestselling core classical albums of 2014 & is still going strong.
This new and unique Bruckner album has a real potential amongst the core classical audiences worldwide.
To support the release, DG has filmed an interview with Sid McLauchlan who has been Claudio Abbado’s DG producer for many years.
The concert was recorded by Accentus Music during the 75th Lucerne Festival in 2013 with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra.
This release is a fitting tribute to an irreplaceable artist, who was one of the greatest conductors and most inspiring musical figures of our time.
With this record, Deutsche Grammophon and Accentus Music wish to pay tribute to the maestro and honour what would have been his 81st birthday at the end of June
Composer: Anton Bruckner
Conductor: Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble: Lucerne Festival Orchestra
Claudio Abbado usually has been a satisfying Bruckner conductor, but then his previous recordings were mostly made with the Vienna Philharmonic, a great Bruckner orchestra. Even so, his previous Ninth with that group was disappointing. This version is better, but not much. Granted, it has all of the virtues that we have come to expect: minute attention to dynamics, suppleness of phrasing, and, especially in the trio of the scherzo, remarkable transparency of texture. That said, it’s senseless to pretend that the Lucerne Festival Orchestra is a world-class ensemble with a genuine feel for Bruckner’s idiom, and Abbado was not the kind of conductor (like Stokowski, for instance) who had the ability to impose a unique sound on just about any orchestra.
You might not think that this matters so much in Bruckner, who was anything but an instrumental colorist, but it’s relevant here in one specific way: the ability to sustain tension and coherence at low dynamic levels. Abbado takes great pains over gradations in dynamics, especially piano to pianissimo. Indeed, the difference is often exaggerated to the point of mannerism in the lyrical second and third subjects in the first movement, and in long stretches of the Adagio. Whenever he does this, the music’s vitality and flow vanish (marginally slower tempos than before also don’t help). This is largely a function of the string playing, of the section’s understanding of how the music should be sustained. You will never hear this problem when, say, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, or the Staatskapelle Dresden play Bruckner. Even Abbado’s relatively lousy earlier recording was better in this one respect. The climaxes also have a soft edge–despite generally fine brass playing–notably in the first movement’s coda or the big outbursts in the scherzo (not so much the Adagio); but in soft passages the music turns dull, plain and simple.
There is a strong vein of narcissism running through many of these “festival” productions. They are all about the star performer. Everyone else is along for the ride. We see exactly the same issue with Martha Argerich’s most recent concerto recordings. Of course she is wonderful, and her glamor supposedly rubs off on her second-rate colleagues and accompanists—except that it doesn’t, often as not, and the situation is only amplified with conductors, who express themselves exclusively in terms of the sounds that the players make. Meanwhile the critics, particularly at local newspapers and those carefully selected to be guests of the festival, obediently rave about the results. The truth, however, is that most of the great, established orchestras are better at what they do than are most of their conductors, especially those ensembles with proprietary experience in certain repertoire.
Today’s conductors enjoy the unique opportunity of basking in an acclaim that derives from decades of tradition and expertise that they played no part whatsoever in fostering. How much credit for Abbado’s prior success in Bruckner goes to the Vienna Philharmonic? On evidence here, quite a bit.
Symphony No.9 In D Minor (Anton Bruckner)
1. Feierlich. Misterioso 00:26:47
2. Scherzo (Bewegt lebhaft) – Trio (Schnell) 00:11:02
3. Adagio (Langsam, feierlich) 00:25:16