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Tag: Claudio Abbado

Berliner Philharmoniker – Memorial Concert for Herbert von Karajan 1999 720p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

In a newspaper interview, Claudio Abbado once said Herbert von Karajan had been “like a father” to him. The veteran passed on much valuable advice to the man who became his successor in Berlin, also decisively promoting Abbado’s career by inviting him to the Salzburg Festival in 1965. So for Abbado it was not only a duty but also a matter of personal significance to conduct this 1999 Memorial Concert by the Berliner Philharmoniker in Salzburg Cathedral to mark the tenth anniversary of Karajan’s death. The programme included the Requiem by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Hardly any other work is surrounded by such a similar sense of mystery. Firstly, because of the story of its composition. In the summer of 1791, a strange messenger came to Mozart requesting him to compose a requiem. Some later alleged that this messenger was to blame for Mozart’s early death – a mistake, because as we now know, the Requiem was commissioned by a harmless count whose eccentricities included passing off works by other composers as his own creations.

The mythical status of the Requiem was strengthened by the fact that Mozart died during its composition – we experience him here, as it were, on the threshold of the afterlife. The unusual character of the work may however be critical to its strong appeal. Throughout his life, Mozart had clearly separated his life and composition, his feelings and moods are expressed at best indirectly in his music. The Requiem, however, seems to give us an unfiltered reflection of his feelings, his fear of death – the pent-up composer becomes a fellow man.

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Berliner Philharmoniker – Memorial concert for Claudio Abbado with Simon Rattle and Frank Peter Zimmermann 2014 1080p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

In this concert from May 2014, the Berliner Philharmoniker remember their former chief conductor Claudio Abbado who died 4 months earlier on 20 January. In remembrance of this sad loss, Frank Peter Zimmermann plays Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Violin Concerto in G major without conductor. In the second part of the concert, Sir Simon Rattle performs Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7.

The Berliner Philharmoniker’s statement on the death of Claudio Abbado: “The Berliner Philharmoniker mourn the loss of an extraordinary musician and man: His love of music and his insatiable curiosity were an inexhaustible source of inspiration for the musicians of the orchestra and shaped our work together ever since his first concerts with the orchestra in 1966. The Berliner Philharmoniker are proud to be able to include him among their chief conductors and to be a part of his musical heritage. His death is an infinitely heavy loss for all musicians. The Berliner Philharmoniker bow before Claudio Abbado in deep love and gratitude, and dedicate this concert to his memory.”

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Berliner Philharmoniker – European Concert 1991 in Prague 1991 720p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

This was the concert with which the Berliner Philharmoniker founded the tradition of the European Concerts. Every year on 1 May – the day in 1882 when the orchestra was founded – they give a concert in a historically significant location in Europe, keeping alive the memory of the collective cultural heritage of the Old World. The first of these concerts took the orchestra and its chief conductor to Prague in 1991, where an all-Mozart programme marked the 200th anniversary of the composer’s death. 

Mozart himself would probably have been very satisfied with this choice, as it was here he finally gained the recognition which he was so cruelly denied by his superiors in Salzburg and Vienna. On his first visit to Prague in 1787, he happily noted that in the city’s streets, “the only thing being played, sung or whistled is – Figaro”. So it is no surprise that his next opera Don Giovanni was premiered in Prague, where, according to Mozart, it was received with “the loudest applause”. Of course, the opera could not be left out of this European Concert. Cheryl Studer sings Donna Anna, the role which played no small part just a few years before in laying the foundation of her global career. 

What in particular is shown in the two Mozart Symphonies of this concert is the exciting artistic phase the Berliner Philharmoniker found themselves in at that time. The full, elegantly flowing sound which Herbert von Karajan had cultivated over the decades is unmistakeable. But as Karajan’s successor for a year and a half, we can already hear Abbado making his mark on the orchestra, giving this particular performance a buoyant Italianate expression.

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Gidon Kremer, LSO & Claudio Abbado – Vivaldi: Four Seasons (Remastered) (1981/2017) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Gidon Kremer, LSO & Claudio Abbado – Vivaldi: Four Seasons (Remastered) (1981/2017)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 38:29 minutes | 687 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Of all the world-renowned violinists born in the decade after World War II—an exclusive club that includes Pinchas Zukerman, Pierre Amoyal, and Kyung Wha Chung—Gidon Kremer has taken the least- expected path to lasting fame. Today he is best known as a passionate champion and performer of modern music, the founder of an iconoclastic chamber orchestra in his native Latvia, and a public critic of the glitzy marketing of classical music.

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Berliner Philharmoniker – Concert with Claudio Abbado to mark the 100th anniversary of Gustav Mahler’s death 2011 1080p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

Gustav Mahler died in Vienna on 18 May 1911. Exactly 100 years later, the Berliner Philharmoniker commemorated this anniversary with a special concert under the direction of their former chief conductor, Claudio Abbado, with Anne Sofie von Otter and Jonas Kaufmann as soloists. Over the decades, the partnership of Abbado and the orchestra frequently turned to the works of Mahler after first performing the Rückert-Liederin the Philharmonie in 1967. And for many music fans, Abbado’s interpretations of Mahler marked the highpoint of his years in Berlin.

Just how enthusiastic the response was, can be understood today from concert reviews of the time: “It was almost a surprise that they didn’t literally bring the house down in the finale. With a concert like this, no-one can match the Philharmoniker,” was how Die Welt described a performance of the Seventh Symphony in 2001. To mark the one hundredth anniversary of the composer’s death, Abbado conducted two works by the composer on the theme of saying farewell. On the one hand, Das Lied von der Erde, composed at a time of personal tragedy in 1907 when Mahler’s daughter Maria died, and the composer himself found out about his own serious heart condition. As a result, the Lied von der Erde seems in many passages like an elegiac meditation on the finiteness of all life. The same can be said about the Adagio from the Tenth Symphony. The movement starts off tentatively, without any clear direction: music which wants nothing more and which, as it continues, dissolves slowly into nothingness.

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Berliner Philharmoniker – Claudio Abbado’s Inaugural Concert from 1989 1989 720p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

It was only logical that Claudio Abbado should start his tenure with the Berliner Philharmoniker in December 1989 conducting Mahler’s First Symphony. Firstly, because Abbado was even then considered one of the great Mahler conductors of his time, and secondly because this symphony by the still young composer is infused with an irresistible expression of freshness and new beginnings. Even today we can feel the special magic of this new beginning in this video document.

The election of Claudio Abbado came as a surprise to the music world – not least to the conductor himself. In many ways he embodied a contrast to Herbert von Karajan who, particularly in his later years, had became ever more remote from his musicians. Claudio Abbado, however, made it clear from the outset that he was simply “Claudio” to everyone. Furthermore, he followed new musical directions; he aimed at a more transparent sound, and put an emphasis on new music – and also on Mahler who had only occasionally appeared in Philharmoniker concerts under Karajan.

Mahler was only in his mid 20s when he composed his first symphony. It is particularly astonishing that even in this work, all the features of his symphonic style are already present: the sounds of nature, the parody, the monumentality and the affinity with folk song. On top of that, there is the consummate compositional craft which nevertheless never hems in the optimistic naturalness of this work: an expression that perfectly reflects the sense of optimism for the future that shines through in everyone involved in this concert.

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Berliner Philharmoniker – Claudio Abbado’s final concert with the Berliner Philharmoniker 2013 1080p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

This recording documents Claudio Abbado’s last concert with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Even in this encounter, Abbado’s musical curiosity and open-mindedness can be seen in this performance of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique which he was conducting with the Berliner Philharmoniker for the very first time. The programme also includes Felix Mendelssohn’s incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The juxtaposition of these works is also a fascinating idea as it throws into relief the early period of musical Romanticism. The two composers met for the first time in Rome in 1832. Berlioz was full of admiration for Mendelssohn, who for his part had difficulty putting up with Berlioz’s effusive behaviour, “this enthusiasm turned inside out, this desperation as presented to the ladies, this ingeniousness printed in Gothic type.” And the Symphonie fantastique alienated him. Particularly in the final Witch’s Sabbath, Mendelssohn saw “utter foolishness, contrived passion mere grunting, shouting, screaming back and forth.”

His Midsummer Night’s Dream music, in which he congenially set the material of Shakespeare’s play to music, shows us his own ideal of Romantic composition. The overture from 1826 – a stroke of genius on the part of the 17-year old composer – captures the atmosphere and flavour of the world of the fairy kingdom in which the royal couple Oberon and Titania reign. In 1843, Mendelssohn followed up with 12 additional musical pieces, commissioned by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia for a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the New Palace in Potsdam. The results were a collection of instrumental, vocal and melodrama pieces, of which the Wedding March is probably the most famous. 1843 was also the year the composers met once again when Berlioz conducted the Symphonie fantastique in Leipzig. After an initial distance, they gradually began to understand each other better and better – culminating in a highly symbolic scene, when Berlioz and Mendelssohn exchanged their batons as mutual mementos.

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Berliner Philharmoniker – Claudio Abbado’s Beethoven cycle from Rome 2001 720p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

Claudio Abbado conducted Beethoven’s symphonies on many occasions in the Philharmonie in Berlin. But only at the end of his tenure as chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker did he decide to give a performance of the complete symphonies. It was left to audiences of his native Italy to witness these concerts in February 2001 in the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. For both critics and the musicians alike, they marked great moments in the partnership of conductor and orchestra.

The audiences also applauded enthusiastically, demonstrating not least their gratitude at experiencing Claudio Abbado as a conductor of unbroken creativity, after he had spent several months overcoming a serious illness. Above all, it was the sinewy, driving interpretations themselves which led to standing ovations after each concert. The Financial Timesspoke of a “revolution”. Instead of the monumentality of earlier times, here there was “something leaner, earthier, more experimental: something that borrows from the period movement’s wardrobe without causing a personality change”. This stylistic change is also apparent visually: in contrast to previous years, Abbado employs a reduced string section for the symphonies. In addition, a new edition of the score by Jonathan Del Mar is used which reflects the most recent research. For Abbado, these innovations are not just for their own sake, but are merely the means to revealing the core of Beethoven’s music. He described his point of reference in this question as follows: “If you try to look at Beethoven’s world objectively, then an interpretation à la Haydn is just as wrong as an interpretation à la Wagner. Ideally it should be – and this is the difficulty – Beethoven. “

Although orchestra and conductor performed all the Beethoven symphonies in Rome, the Ninth was not recorded at the time as the work had been produced for television just a few months before for the European Concert in May 2000. This recording is also available in the Digital Concert Hall.

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Berliner Philharmoniker – Claudio Abbado, Maurizio Pollini and Anna Prohaska 2011 1080p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

Claudio Abbado and Maurizio Pollini covered much of their artistic careers together, giving many joint concerts, including the ones with the Berliner Philharmoniker. In this recording from 2011, they perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 in G major together for the first time in Berlin. The same evening, Claudio Abbado conducted the Adagio from Mahler’s unfinished Tenth Symphony with his old orchestra for the first time.

The appeal of the G major concerto lies not least in the prominent role given to the woodwind. On an almost equal footing, they converse with the piano, awaking memories of ensemble scenes in Mozart’s operas. And just as in an opera, the gamut of emotions is run: “Within its friendly key”, the work is “full of secret smiles and secret sorrows,” fittingly wrote the Mozart scholar Alfred Einstein. There is genuine theatrical drama in this concert with Mozart’s concert aria K 418, giving us the opportunity to meet Anna Prohaska, a young soprano from the Staatsoper Unter den Linden and a rising star of the Berlin music scene.

The concert opens with Alban Berg’s Symphonic Pieces from Lulu, which Berg put together to promote his opera, at a time when he saw the planned premiere threatened by the Nazi regime. The result is a fully-grown five-movement symphony resembling not least the symphonies of Mahler – a composer who Berg deeply admired and whose baton he once stole as a souvenir. Notably, the parallels between the last of the pieces, an adagio, and the Adagio from Mahler’s Tenth are clear; both manifestations of the hopelessness of, and a farewell to life.

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Berliner Philharmoniker – Claudio Abbado conducts works by Schumann and Berg 2012 1080p WEB-DL AAC2.0 H.264-CHDWEB

Whenever Claudio Abbado and the Berliner Philharmoniker performed works by Robert Schumann, it was mostly rarities that were to be heard: the Szenen aus Goethes Faust, or the melodrama Manfred. The overture to Schumann’s opera Genoveva, which Abbado conducts in this performance at the Philharmonie, is also likely to be a discovery for most. On the other hand, the concert ends with one of the composer’s most popular works: his Second Symphony.

Schumann composed the symphony at the end of 1845, when he was suffering from the effects of severe depression. “It seems to me that one must hear that in it,” was how he judged it himself. And in fact this is highly sensitive music that seems, for example in the Adagio espressivo of the third movement, as if the real world is left ever more behind. Other sections come across as more robust, more confident – but a fragile nervousness constantly emerges. However, the symphony should not be understood as a “musical medical report,” but as a particularly impressive document of Romantic sensibility.

The second composer in the programme is Alban Berg, who repeatedly devoted himself to the works of Schumann. Many of Schumann’s characteristics have since been revealed in Berg’s own style. For the listener, the influence is provided rather by the authentic sensitivity which is inherent to both composers. In Berg’s case, this is exemplified in the Altenberg-Lieder and in the Violin Concerto, which is performed in this concert. To explore the emotional depth of these works, the services of two outstanding soloists were secured: the mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter and the violinist Isabelle Faust.

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