Presto News - 1st July 2013
Claudio Abbado conducts Schumann's Second Symphony
The great Italian conductor, Claudio Abbado, reached his eightieth birthday last Wednesday, and in celebration of this, Deutsche Grammophon has just released the latest of his discs conducting Orchestra Mozart (an ensemble of which he is Artistic Director), this time in a recording of Schumann’s Symphony No. 2, coupled with two overtures, Manfred and Genoveva.
I’ve often felt that Schumann’s symphonies don’t fully get the recognition they deserve, and so it’s always good to have a new recording of any of them, especially when it's as full of life and energy as this one. The ensemble’s name will give you a clue to their standard repertoire, and something I liked very much about this recording is how Abbado brought the chamber-like qualities that you need for Mozart to the music of Schumann. It’s never stodgy or heavy, and there’s such a vivacious sparkle beaming through every bar. Abbado’s evident love for this symphony is delightfully infectious.
Textures are really clear, and while the string section is larger than this orchestra usually wields, it still sounds and feels very much like a chamber ensemble, with all the transparency that such a group brings. The woodwind are remarkably light and airy, especially in the first Trio of the symphony’s second movement, as well as in the Manfred overture, where we’re treated to some absolutely exquisite oboe and flute playing in the slower passages. The brass have their moments, too: there’s some great fanfare-like stuff for the horns in the Genoveva overture, a piece which I must admit was new to me, but is certainly worth getting to know.
I think my favourite movement of the symphony, though, has to be the third, Adagio espressivo. There are bars here and there that remind me of Mendelssohn, but most of all I feel it definitely looks forward to the symphonies of Brahms. If you love the latter’s music then I’ll happily take a bet that you’ll love this symphony too, and I strongly recommend this recording. Although Abbado has recorded some of Schumann’s music before, I believe this is the first time he has committed any of the symphonies to disc; on this evidence I hope the other three will follow!
If you’re looking to celebrate Abbado’s birthday in even more lavish style, then there are two boxed sets worth mentioning also. The first is a collection entitled Claudio Abbado – The Decca Years, and is a seven-disc set consisting of the contents of nine LP recordings that he made for the label between 1966 and 1969. The repertoire covered is quite an eclectic mix, ranging from a few symphonies by Beethoven, Bruckner, and Mendelssohn to music by Prokofiev, Janáček and Hindemith (including a really rather good recording of the latter’s Symphonic Metamorphosis with the LSO).
Furthermore, for the truly extravagant among you, there’s DG’s Claudio Abbado: The Symphony Edition, with a whopping forty discs of, amongst other things, the complete symphonies of Brahms, Beethoven, Mahler, Schubert, and Mendelssohn, as well as some by Haydn, Mozart, and Bruckner. I think the Mahler and Brahms cycles in particular are fantastic recordings, and the selection of Mozart symphonies (also performed by Orchestra Mozart) is a joy. Happy eightieth birthday, Claudio!
Schumann: Symphony No. 2 & Overtures
Orchestra Mozart, Claudio Abbado
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Claudio Abbado: The Symphony Edition
A 40-disc collection of Abbado’s recordings for Deutsche Grammophon of great symphonies, including the complete symphonies of Brahms, Beethoven, Mahler, Schubert, and Mendelssohn, as well as some by Haydn, Mozart, and Bruckner. Abbado conducts orchestras such as Orchestra Mozart, Berliner Philharmoniker, Lucerne Festival Orchestra, and the London Symphony Orchestra.
Claudio Abbado: The Decca Years
A 7-disc set comprising the contents of nine LP recordings made by Abbado for Decca between 1966 and 1969, conducting orchestras such as the New Philharmonia Orchestra, Wiener Philharmoniker, and the London Symphony Orchestra. Repertoire includes symphonies by Beethoven, Bruckner, and Mendelssohn, as well as music by Prokofiev, Janáček and Hindemith.
25% off Eulenburg Miniature Scores
Until the end of September we’re offering 25% off the entire range, so now would be the perfect time to expand your library of miniature scores. Full details of the promotion here.
James Longstaffe - firstname.lastname@example.org
1st July 2013
Bruckner: Symphony No. 6 in A major
Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Jaap van Zweden
Part of a series of recordings of the symphonies of Anton Bruckner from the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and the celebrated conductor Jaap van Zweden, this release features one of the composer’s lesser known works, the Symphony No 6 in A major. Amsterdam-born Jaap van Zweden has risen rapidly in little more than a decade to become one of today’s most sought-after conductors.
Ligeti: String Quartets & Barber: Adagio
This release is another remarkable addition to the Budapest-based Keller Quartet’s discography, an album that bridges musical worlds. The Molto Adagio of Samuel Barber’s String Quartet No. 1 is offered as tonal terra firma between György Ligeti’s restlessly shifting First and Second Quartets, bracing creations of the 1950s and ’60s that - like the quartets of his great precursor, Bartók - are as mysterious as they are earthy.
Denis Matsuev plays Rachmaninoff & Gershwin
Denis Matsuev (piano), New York Philharmonic, Alan Gilbert
Mahler: Symphony No. 8 in E flat major ‘Symphony of a Thousand’
Christine Brewer, Camilla Nylund, Maria Espada, Stephanie Blythe, Mihoko Fujimura, Robert Dean Smith, Tommi Hakala, Stefan Kocán, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Mariss Jansons
Mariss Jansons’s interpretation of the Eighth Symphony is one more jewel in the crown of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; recorded during the same Mahler cycle as the recently released Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3, this ‘Symphony of a Thousand’ left a lasting impression on the audience.
Catrin Finch: Lullabies
Catrin Finch (harp)
This collection features the world’s best-loved lullabies, including favourites by Brahms, Schubert and Schumann, as well as music by star composers of today: Karl Jenkins, Eric Whitacre and Paul Mealor. Born on the West Wales coast and a native Welsh-speaker, Catrin Finch is the former official harpist to His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales. Hailed as “The Queen of Harps”, she delights audiences with performances around the world.
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Norrington conducts Stravinsky
Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Sir Roger Norrington
Conrad Tao: Voyages
Conrad Tao (piano)
The premiere disc from this remarkable young Chinese-American pianist and composer. Features music by Rachmaninov and Ravel, as well as compositions by Conrad himself, including an inspired work for iPad and piano. Also a work by New York born composer, Meredith Monk.
Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen
Chorus and Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera, Christian Thielemann
Christian Thielemann’s reading of Wagner’s complete Ring Cycle at the Wiener Staatsoper in 2011 was universally hailed as one of the greatest Wagnerian events of the last half-century and is now being released as a 14-CD boxed set, including 2 DVDs featuring introductory films to each opera. With the Chorus and Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera and an outstanding cast of today’s leading dramatic singers, these performances set the standard for Wagner interpretation in the 21st Century.
BBC Radio 3 CD Review
Saturday 29th June 2013
Building a Library - Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47
(as part of a 10 CD set of the complete Shostakovich Symphonies)
Wiener Philharmoniker, Mariss Jansons (conductor)
(as part of a 16 CD set of 20th Century Masterpieces)
Wiener Philharmoniker, Mariss Jansons (conductor)
Disc of the Week
Universe of Sound (Holst: The Planets, Op. 32) - DVD
Philharmonia Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen
Also available on blu-ray.
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