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Bruckner: Symphony No. 9

4.8 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Lucerne Festival Orchestra
  • Conductor: Claudio Abbado
  • Composer: Anton Bruckner
  • Audio CD (7 July 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B00KJ2024S
  • Other Editions: Vinyl
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 38,003 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

Product Description

**GRAMOPHONE MAGAZINE RECORDING OF THE YEAR WINNER 2015**
Compiled from a series of performances at the Lucerne Festival, this disc of Bruckner's Ninth Symphony was performed by the Lucerne Festival Orchestra with Italian conductor Claudio Abbado in August 2013 and was the last performance from the great conductor.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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2014 has been a year of loss in the musical world, with the announced passing of Lorin Maazel following on from the equally sad loss of Claudio Abbado. Whereas Maazel was a controversial figure who divided opinion and aroused no small amount of animosity throughout his career, the genial, quiet spoken football loving Abbado was liked and admired in equal measure wherever he worked.
Abbado has left us an extensive discography, with many of his recordings from as far back as 40 years ago still among the top recommendations.
I treasure his recordings of Debussy and Ravel, Russian music, Italian Opera and also of music of the Second Viennese School among my extensive collection of his recordings.

He was also superb in Richard Strauss and to a degree in Wagner, but in general when it came to the German Romantic School I have always felt that he was too often afflicted by "Mercedes-Benz Syndrome", which is to say German engineering at its reliable best, beautifully upholstered and comfortable and providing a journey free from drama or the unexpected!

While this is exactly what I want in a saloon car, it is not what I want necessarily in music, and I have always found Abbado's Bruckner with the VPO to be exactly in this category-lush, gorgeous and with no exaggerated gestures, but rather careful and lacking in drama and intensity compared to the very best.
This was certainly true of his earlier recording of the Ninth-there was nothing obviously wrong with it, but neither did it set the pulses racing.
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Format: Audio CD
This recording, made at the Lucerne Festival in 2013, was to be Abbado's final conducting appearance - and what a farewell it proved to be. Abbado's earlier Vienna account is completely eclipsed by this glowing yet finely wrought performance. Clearly the product of deep study and reflection, Abbado draws from his orchestra of star performers something other than a great traversal of a powerful symphony - it seems to reach beyond that moment in the Lucerne KKL concert hall. Whatever Abbado was himself contemplating as he directed this piece, the effect is one of transcendence. The beauty of the Adagio as performed here not only makes a perfectly satisfying conclusion, it acts as an ideal preface to what will forever be the silence of Bruckner's projected finale. There really is nothing one can listen to immediately after this - all one can do is reflect on the passing of the great artist that was Claudio Abbado.
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Format: Audio CD
At the start of this review I must declare an interest; I was fortunate enough to attend two of the performances in Lucerne from which this recording derives. These concerts were intensely moving at the time; that they would be turn out to be Claudio Abbado's last performances only adds an extra poignancy.

This unmissable recording confirms what we heard in the concerts in full measure. There is so much beautiful and characterful playing from the Lucerne Festival Orchestra (and the recording lets us hear it all). The transparency and luminosity that they bring to the score is extraordinary; I feel as if it's the first time I've heard this piece clearly, without any distortion. There's a delicacy and human quality to much of this performance that sets it apart from so many others. It's not underpowered though; the end of the first movement and the climax of the adagio are shattering.

Compared to other performances; Giulini's gravity is impressive but to my ears his performance sags under the weight of his slow tempi (he's 5.30 longer than Abbado). Walter's performance has warmth and lyricism but the scherzo is rather heavy handed. Rattle is fascinating, as always, but the clarity that makes so many of his performances so stimulating, outweighs the feeling for the idiom in this case. Of course there is Furtwangler in 1944 but that's another story entirely...

It's hard to put words what makes this new recording of Abbado's so compelling but it's something between natural expression and direct communication that is striking. He keeps the music moving forward, as it should, but each moment is fully realised somehow. We feel we reach the end of the piece, which long-held horn notes, too quickly, before we are ready.
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Format: Audio CD
I've been struck recently by the similarities between Karajan and his successor at the BPO, Claudio Abbado. Not in terms of their music making or personalities, which were poles apart of course, but in other ways. Of course, both were principal conductors of the BPO, who were forced to give up their position for health reasons (amongst others). Both battled valiantly to overcome these serious health problems to continue conducting in their final years, until Abbado died a few months before his 81st birthday and Karajan a few months after. Both featured a Bruckner symphony in their last concert; with Karajan it was the Seventh, with Abbado the Ninth. DG was on hand to record live and release on CD Abbado's final concert performance, whilst they taped Karajan's Seventh in the studio during sessions that took place around the same time of his final concert.

(Sir Simon doesn't need to pay an awful lot of attention to this, since Furtwangler's final concert ended with a Beethoven symphony !)

But what of this new version of the Bruckner Ninth featuring the fabled Lucerne Festival Orchestra ? Well, the sound is very fine and the orchestral playing quite fabulous, the opening sting tremolando seemingly emerging from the very edge of sound itself - quite astonishing. Abbado's conception is noble, long-lined, eloquent and almost wistful at times. However, I have to say that it lacks the gaunt grandeur of Giulini's account with the VPO (Bruckner: Symphony No.9), the tragic splendour of Furtwangler (
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