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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 29 June 2013
This recording of Schumann is altogether an exceptional happening. Set down live in Vienna's Musikverein, it more than fulfils the promise of Abbado's Mozart with the same band. Many people think the Second is Schumann's finest symphony, no doubt because of its yearning slow movement. It certainly does reach the heights, although in one sense less than other versions: where the violins are scored an octave apart he emphasises the lower part, where my impression is usually of how high the writing goes at these moments. I like Abbado's way very much, as the heart of the music is ablaze. It is vigorous, solid, yet somehow airy in the way the sounds float up with maximum immediacy. It is as if we are in that big acoustic space with the air full of the sounds, big percussion, and like a dough where everything is properly mixed in, yet you can hear individual strands to perfection. It is only recently that this degree of faithfulness to the concert hall sound has been achieved, and it gets the full elusive wonder of that greatest of sounds, the orchestra. This degree of fullness and ambiance makes you feel the tension as if the performance were unfolding in real time. I compared it to Christian Thielemann's version from the 90s (also on DG) and there is no denying the extra degree of excitement in the sound of the new recording, even if the Thielemann is arguably clearer. From the bits I heard Abbado also opts for a slower tempo in the first movement, but beautifully sprung rhythmically, which made the other sound a bit too driven. The two overtures are also from the peak of Schumann's inspiration, Manfred being absolutely sublime in its transport - I don't think the orchestra has ever been made to sing with a more united passion, and the colour, so often criticised in the past, seems a thing of perfection in itself, like finding the perfectly upholstered sofa and never wanting to sit on any other!
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on 16 October 2013
Schumann's second symphony is arguably the greatest of his cycle of four symphonies. I have various readings of this wonderful symphony by well known orchestras under great conductors including Karajan, Bernstein, Barenboim, Sawallish, Szell and Gardiner. Even though these are all fine performances, only Karajan's and Sawallish's strike me as being truly great. Abbado's new Schumann 2 is a benchmark reading in the same class as Karajan and Sawallish. A great performance not to be missed.
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on 17 October 2013
Finally Abbado records a Schumann symphony, after previously only touching the concertos and various choral works. Here everything works: The performance is beautifully shaped and the recording oustanding. The two ouvertures are marvelously played too. Strongly recommended.
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on 6 March 2014
Something intriguing,first : the cover says this CD was made on the occasion of Abbado's 80th Birthday,( after which he had to cancel everything or nearly...).
In fact,I seriously worried when I heard on the French "Radio Classique" FM Channel, the announcer and musicologist Alain DUAULT saying ALL OF A SUDDEN that the Maestro COULD NOT deal with the last concert of the Lucerne Festival, as he usually did , because of serious health problems,

Knowing that the miserable Maestro had been struck by a stomach cancer as early as Year 2000...and had miraculously
managed to survive for 13 years ,after several surgeries, ( Heavens only knows how !!!! ).....I was stunned this time as something inside me told me it was ominous.....

Then we waited for 4 1/2 months without any new mention....

just to hear on the same channel, on the morning of 20th January 2014, that he had passed away surrounded by his family in his
house at around 8 a.m. !!

I wasn't dreaming : that was rather a nighmare.....

Sorry : even nearly two months later, I am still overwhelmed by grief that I can't write more.....

Requiescat in Pace !


Ps:can't determine if THIS is Abbado's LAST recording, or else the two lovely Mozart Concertos he eventually recorded with
Maria Joao Pirès ?

In France, I read everywhere the final sequence was Mozart....but strangely this CD of Schumann
Symphony N° 2 is hardly known.....

Sorry for having been so long !

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on 9 April 2014
Andy Warhol - the Pale Rider cometh - coined the statement that in the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes. The maxim applies selectively to posthumous fame. Oblivion and/or eternity care nothing for our petty achievements. Me, not even a nanosecond of renown will come my way (and rightly so). What of Abbado? Having crossed the River Styx, will he receive his full tithe of fifteen minutes or something less . . . . . .

To my mind, what is one to say of a conductor who is congenitally humdrum in core repertoire such as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Bruckner, Wagner et al? Even his Mendelssohn is cause for concern. Success came elsewhere.

This performance of Schumann's Second Symphony does not change this dynamic. In his twilight years, for reasons best known to himself, Abbado hobbled around with the period practice wolf-pack in his own fashion. Here, the occasional ululation - light textures and semi-clipped phrases - broadcast his lupine fealty. The Orchestra Mozart is not the last word in tonal lustre. If you get your cheapies from the English Chamber Orchestra or the Academy of St Martins in the Fields - fine enough ensembles in their own way - there is much to enjoy. The outer movements of the Symphony are not without excitement and panache within the parameters of a solid two-stroke outfit. The Scherzo is not Schumann at its most inspired. In response, Uncle Claudio jazzes up the articulation from the strings and successfully so.

Mysticism is not Abbado's strong suit - to wit, his mundane Bruckner 5 from Lucerne. Here, the rubber-chickens come home to roost in the slow movement: it's as otherworldly as Augustus Gloop.

Turning to the Manfred and Genoveva Overtures, I cannot hear anything special here - they're professional, polished and nothing more. The wildness and menace that Furtwangler and Giulini evoke in the former are muted.

Alternatives abound: Schumann, Symphonies 1 - 4 & Manfred Overture &Schumann: The Symphonies &Schumann: Sym Nos 1 - 4 / Overture &Schumann: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 &Schumann: Symphonies No. 3 "Rhenish" & No. 4 / Manfred Overture

The market is now awash with Abbado retrospectives. Fame-wise, I cannot answer for the longevity of his Mahler, Verdi, Janacek, Mussorgsky, Ravel, Prokofiev or Hindemith. On the basis of core Austro-German repertoire, you would not want to blink. Who knows - the Ghost of the Pale Rider might take their cover-art and work them into a variant of his Campbell Soup Cans.

As crows watch on, the rest is silence on Boot Hill.
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on 29 April 2016
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on 10 July 2013
My experience of the compose Schumann was very limited but I did enjoy this CD I will now look and and consider other classical in this ciompsition by Schumann to tickle my music taste buds. I can recommend this album to any person taking an wishing to explore the virtues of good music.
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