Sunday 21 June 2015

A masterly live 2011 performance of Schubert’s Great C major Symphony from Claudio Abbado just released on Deutsche Grammophon

Recordings continue to appear of the great conductor Claudio Abbado who sadly died last year. Thankfully we can remember him through the recordings that he left, not the least of which are those live concerts that are finding their way on to disc.

Deutsche Grammophon have just released a recording with his Orchestra Mozart drawn from concerts in September 2011 at the Bologna Auditorium Manzoni, Bologna, Italy and the Bozen Konzerthaus, Bolzano, Italy. The single work on this disc is Schubert’s Great C major Symphony D.944

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The opening horn bars of the Andante bring a rather nostalgic feel before the orchestra join to bring a beautifully shaped theme.  As the music rises in dynamics to lead into the Allegro ma non Troppo Abbado draws his usual taut playing from his orchestra. There is such fine care of rhythm, phrasing and dynamics; nothing is ever routine, Abbado finding so many points of interest to reveal. This relatively small orchestra really delivers the goods in the broader, more dynamic passages with this conductor beautifully developing the movement throughout.

There is some terrific woodwind playing in the opening of the Andante con moto with Abbado drawing some punchy orchestral playing in the orchestral dynamics. The strings of Orchestra Mozart provide some fine moments, a beautifully silken sound yet with a firmness. There are many fine hushed passages with Abbado revealing all the orchestral lines. He allows the movement to breathe, building centrally and revealing some lovely details.

The Scherzo Allegro vivace – Trio is terrifically paced with Abbado’s subtle flexibility of tempi, his beautiful shaping of phrases as well as some lovely dance like episodes. He really drives the music forward in the long phrases with a gorgeously controlled trio section with so many subtleties revealed.

The Finale Allegro Vivace opens full of dash and energy, pushing ahead. As the movement develops Abbado reveals so many little details, always subtly adjusting the tempo and dynamics. There is spot on playing, taut and full of verve, really pulling the listener along.  There is such fine control in the quieter moments before he moves through some terrific passages as the music develops. Abbado builds the music to perfection showing just how naturally Schubert’s symphony develops over its glorious length. The hushed section towards the end brings a fine tension before we are slowly led to the coda.

This is another recording to treasure. Abbado always seems to bring something special to a performance and in this newly released recording he does so in spectacularly fine fashion. There will always be arguments over tempi and timings for recordings of this great work. Abbado’s performance, longer than many, shows just how to pace this work naturally.

This is a masterly performance from the hands of a master.

I should not forget to mention what a fine orchestra Orchestra Mozart are.

The live recording is first rate, very detailed and clear in a lovely acoustic. There are booklet notes on Abbado, Orchestra Mozart and Schubert.

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