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Claudio Abbado - The Decca Years Box set

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (6 May 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 7
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B00BN1QV1M
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 177,374 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist - Artist (Sample)
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Disc 6
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Disc 7
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Product Description

Product Description

Between February 1966 and January 1969 Italian maestro Claudio Abbado made a series of 9 LP recordings for Decca. This small legacy already gives a clear indication of Abbado s musical sympathies and the range of repertory he was conducting in the concert hall and on record, and which would continue to characterize his future career.
This set brings together Abbado s complete Decca studio recordings for the first time.

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Format: Audio CD
I haven't played absolutely everything in this box yet (the fascinating-looking Brahms is next on my list), but on the basis of what I've heard so far, this is a splendid box in very good analogue sound, and while one might quibble at the margins, it contains sterling performances of a lot of different stuff. To take Abbado's measure, just try the Mendelssohn disc and the Prokofiev disc. It's hard to imagine more different sound worlds than those of these two composers, and yet clearly Abbado is alive to both. Prokofiev's Third Symphony (which I didn't know) receives a gripping performance -- all the sound and clatter, with an undertone of Russian melancholy (it was composed in 1928) which is as un-Tchaikovskian as you can get. And the high spirits of his First Symphony, the "Classical," which has fun with the very idea of "Classical," is well-worth comparing to Mendelssohn's very different appropriation of classical manners in his Third and Fourth symphonies. Abbado recorded the Mendelssohn again later, for DG, and these later performances are very good, but I actually prefer the sound in the earlier ones -- Decca's 1960's analogue sound was something special in the Culshaw era. Other items worth hearing are a Bruckner First and some Janacek and Hindemith -- adventurous programming in the '60's, and very well done. The Beethoven is OK -- Eighth better than the Seventh, which lacks the first-movement repeat -- and the Verdi disc with Ghiaurov in extended scenes from some operas is good to have too. To my ears, the "Nabucco" scenes don't come off as well as they should -- it's as if the chorus, the orchestra, and the singer aren't quite in the same "space," with the chorus not sufficiently foregrounded and Ghiaurov sounding firm but not warm. A pity, because the playing is good.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Fantastic quality. Great selection of recordings. Abbado at his best. The mp3 downloads - Amazon music storage - is very much appreciated. Note: if you download the files do need sorting out into folders and file names need a bit of attention.
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By Colpalu on 22 April 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
So sad that maestro Abbado has already left us : I remember his Debussy with the Boston symphony and indeed these Decca recordings came as a revelation when the LPs were issued . Never before had Debussy be recorded with that elegance and grace .
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I FOUND THE BPERFORMANCE SUPERB !!
I FOLLOW EVERY CONCERT CONDUCTED BY THE LATE CLAUDIO ABBADO -
THE GREATEST CONDUCTOR OF OUR TIME.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9341c660) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x93427b7c) out of 5 stars At His Young Best ! 28 Aug. 2013
By James S. Eisenberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I went out of my way to collect these recordings in their original LP issues. The young, technically assured, stylistically savvy conductor quickly became one of my favorites. He had already mastered styles as disparate as those of Tartini, Bellini, Nono and Mahler and was equally at home in concert hall and opera house by the time Decca signed him when in his early thirties.
It is wonderful to have these performances gathered together in a mid-priced box set.
I was unaware until I read the liner notes that the performance of the Beethoven 7th didn't get good reviews when it came out. It very quickly became my favorite performance of the work. It seems to me to exemplify what a "Dance" symphony should sound like. Virtually every other performance got raves upon release, and the raves were well deserved.
I tend to divide conductors into two groups..."structure" masters and "details" masters. It is the rare conductor who combines both that achieves greatness. Such is Abbado !
The Brahms, Bruckner, Prokofiev, Hindemith and Janacek recordings may just be the best available.
As regards the Deutsche Grammaphon and Sony performances with the same orchestras under Abbado mentioned by the other reviewers, they are NOT the same performances included here.
Sound recordings are generally excellent.
In this personality driven re-issue, there is much information about Abbado and recording sessions etc.in the liner notes, but nothing about the works themselves.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x93427dd4) out of 5 stars a mixed bag, but the quality is consistent 3 July 2013
By Stanley Crowe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Santa Fe Listener, the first reviewer of this set, has got it absolutely right -- this is a splendid box in very good analogue sound, and while one might quibble at the margins, it contains sterling performances of a lot of different stuff. To take Abbado's measure, just try the Mendelssohn disc and the Prokofiev disc. It's hard to imagine more different sound worlds than those of these two composers, and yet clearly Abbado is alive to both. Prokofiev's Third Symphony (which I didn't know) receives a gripping performance -- all the sound and clatter, with an undertone of Russian melancholy (it was 1939) which is as un-Tchaikovskian as you can get. And the high spirits of his First Symphony, the "Classical," which has fun with the very idea of "Classical," is well-worth comparing to Mendelssohn's very different appropriation of classical manners in his Third and Fourth symphonies. Abbado recorded the Mendelssohn again later, for DG, and these later performances are very good, but I actually prefer the sound in the earlier ones -- Decca's 1960's analogue sound was something special in the Culshaw era. Other items worth hearing are a Bruckner First and some Janacek and Hindemith -- adventurous programming in the '60's, and very well done. The Beethoven is OK -- Eighth better than the Seventh, which lacks the first-movement repeat -- and the Verdi disc with Ghiaurov in extended scenes from some operas is good to have too. To my ears, the "Nabucco" scenes don't come off as well as they should -- it's as if the chorus, the orchestra, and the singer aren't quite in the same "space," with the chorus not sufficiently foregrounded and Ghiaurov sounding firm but not warm. A pity, because the playing is good. The "Macbeth" and "Boccanegra" scenes sound much better balanced, and Ghiaurov sounds marvelous. A final impression -- after the voices stop in the "Boccanegra" scene, there's an orchestral passage that Abbado has the orchestra play with such beauty and with such aptness to the dramatic situation that it's almost worth the price of the box. I recommend this box -- excellent value for money, and a fine tribute to a great conductor.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x93427d98) out of 5 stars All of the young Abbado's early Decca recordings, many of them remarkable 25 Jun. 2013
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Here's another omnium gatherum at super budget price of the kind that seems to be flooding the market from every major label. This one covers the young Abbado's Decca recordings from 1966-69, when he flourished with the London Symphony (technically, the Decca years aren't over: Abbado recently recorded a Fidelio and aria recital album, both featuring the superb German tenor Jonas Kaufmann). These seven CDs represent the nine LPs he made for Decca, dominated by LSO recordings but straying occasionally to other orchestras. Most of the individual CDs are still in print, especially in Europe, and only one or two are hard to find on the used market.

Before making any detailed comments, here's the contents of the set.

Beethoven:

Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92

Wiener Philharmoniker

Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93

Wiener Philharmoniker

The Creatures of Prometheus Overture, Op. 43

Wiener Philharmoniker

Brahms:

Rinaldo, Op. 50

New Philharmonia Orchestra

Schicksalslied, Op. 54

New Philharmonia Orchestra

Bruckner:

Symphony No. 1 in C minor

Wiener Philharmoniker

Hindemith:

Symphonic Metamorphoses on Themes by Carl Maria von Weber

Janacek:

Sinfonietta

Mendelssohn:

Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 56 'Scottish'

Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90 'Italian'

Prokofiev:

Symphony No. 1 in D major, Op. 25 'Classical'

Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 44

Chout - Suite, Op.21a

Romeo and Juliet Suite

Verdi:

Gli arredi festivi (from Nabucco)

London Symphony Orchestra

Va, pensiero (from Nabucco)

London Symphony Orchestra

Chi v'impose unirvi a noi? (from Macbeth)

London Symphony Orchestra

O patria ... O tu, Palermo (from I Vespri Siciliani)

London Symphony Orchestra

A te l'estremo addio ... Il lacerato spirito (from Simon Boccanegra)

London Symphony Orchestra

If duplication is an issue, the Beethoven items were repeated on DG, sometimes several times over. Even as a young man - Abbado turned 33 in 1966 - he took a relatively restrained approach to Beethoven (it used to be called Apollonian), which in a way predicted the rise of the anti-heroic period performance movement. But the Vienna Phil. is far from a HIP ensemble, and their beautiful playing shines through in Sym. 7 and 8. Abbado went on to complete a Beethoven cycle with them in the Seventies. (Since my copy is a download, I can't verify if there's an actual overlap here. I assume not, since the later cycle came out on DG, but Decca's website is no help.) I am not a fan of the Vienna cycle, much preferring the later two with Berlin, but if you like such poised restraint, the Seventh and Eighth were probably Abbado's most successful interpretations from this period.

My greatest enthusiasm goes to the Hindemith, Prokofiev, and Janacek works, which rank among the best I know on disc. All are highlights of Abbado's early career. The Bruckner First from 1970 - not the remake from 1997 - is new to me (it can be bought singly on a new Decca Eloquence bargain disc issued in Australia), and it's doubly attractive for featuring Vienna again, since I can't think of another commercial version of the Bruckner First with them. This recording dates from a time when this formative work was held in low regard and was recorded basically to fill out a complete symphonic cycle. Abbado's reading is low-key and elegant, but the orchestral work is lovely, and he becomes more involved in the moody Beethovenesque slow movement.

The Mendelssohn "Scottish" and "Italian" sound the same to me as the LSO versions with Abbado in their complete cycle for DG, but the latter is digital, so they are in fact different. Both readings are vibrant without quite rivaling the best. The disc of Brahms choral works is a genuine rarity on the used market, although the Rinaldo with tenor James King as soloist made a big impression when first released; it remains among the best. Finally, the Verdi selections are from a program of scenes featuring the great Bulgarian bass Nicolai Ghiaurov in his astounding prime. I hadn't known of it and derived great pleasure from being reminded of opera's last golden age.

The sound is excellent on every disc, and despite the duplications and a bit of less than satisfying Beethoven - not that everyone will agree - this budget box set is full of memorable performances (it's also very worthwhile to seek out Abbado's other LSO recordings on DG, which continue the winning streak).
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Mary Hillier - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Nice
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