This last installment in Claudio Abbado's fine Brahms cycle has the same virtues as the previous recordings: excellent playing, fine recording, and an intensely lyrical response to the music that never precludes a healthy dose of energy where required. The high point of the cycle is the Third Symphony, followed by the Second. If you have those and wish to collect the others, they are not far behind in quality and you can buy this disc (and the one with the First Symphony) with complete confidence. The couplings are also very well done. –David Hurwitz
With his very own “mysterious seductive power and legendary elegance” (Le Monde), Claudio Abbado opened for the last time the LUCERNE FESTIVAL in the summer of 2013. Only a few months later, the world had to bid farewell to a monumental artist, humanist, great conductor and orchestra founder. Even in the concert itself, documented here, lived a moment of farewell, as the three great works performed tell of the transience of life. The centerpiece of the Eroica is the funeral march revealing “abysses of shattering dimension” - an “intense experience” (Neue Zürcher Zeitung). This record, the last audio-visual documentation of his work, captures once again the extraordinary atmosphere of “vibrant emotionality” that always emerged when Abbado created music with his “orchestra of friends”.
New Year’s Eve Concert 1996 – Dances and Gypsy Tunes The fascinating Russian virtuoso violinist, Maxim Vengerov (winner of the Echo Klassik) lends radiance to the gala performance under the baton of Claudio Abbado. Johannes Brahms’Hungarian Dances and Gipsy Songs; Maurice Ravel’s Tzigane and La Valse and Hector Berlioz’s Hungarian March make this New Year’s Eve with the Berliner Philharmoniker unforgettable. New Year’s Eve Concert 1997 – A Tribute to Carmen The program of the Berlin Philharmonic bore the title «Dances of Life, Love, and Death», and it was hardly coincidental that it was meant as an homage to Carmen. The recording of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra’s traditional New Year’s Eve Concert, conducted by Claudio Abbado, offers not only a cross section of worldfamous melodies from George Bizet’s opera, but also famous dance music that was intensely or subtly influenced by it. With: Anne Sofie von Otter, Bryn Terfel, Roberto Alagna, Gil Shaham, Mikhail Pletnev. New Year’s Eve Concert 1998 – Songs of Love and Desire Love was the theme of the 1998 New Year’s Eve Concert. And who wrote better music about love than Mozart and Verdi? Maestro Claudio Abbado has chosen two of the best Mozart interpreters, Christine Schäfer and Simon Keenlyside, for this traditionally meaningful event. Marcelo Álvarez from Argentina interprets highlights of the tenor repertoire, and Italian Primadonna Mirella Freni tops the occasion with a breathtaking performance of the Letter Scene of Tchaikovsky’s Eugen Onegin.
This generous coupling of Brahms’s two concertos for stringed instruments has become relatively common in the age of CD thanks to compilations like the Philips disc of Szeryng and Starker‚ analogue recordings dating from the early 1970s. Modern digital recordings expressly designed for issue in coupling are much rarer‚ the Teldec issue of Kremer and Clemens Hagen being the most notable one.
The Odeon Trio go for gold. Unlike either the Beaux Arts (Philips) or the Fontenay (Teldec), they use three CDs to include everything by Brahms that could possibly be called a piano trio, not forgetting the Op. 114 and Op. 40 wind trios, whose wind parts can well be rendered by strings. They decide, too, that the original 1853 version of the B major Trio is for them, rather than the revised version of 1889 which is more generally favoured.
Not autumnal, not reflective, not reserved, and definitely not restrained, this coupling of Brahms' two string sextets may seem to some to be at best wrong-headed and at worst simply wrong. After all, isn't Brahms the composer for whom the adjective autumnal was coined and to whom the adjectives reflective, reserved, and restrained are reflexively applied? Yes, but that doesn't mean all of Brahms' music is autumnal: he was young once, too and the expansive and exuberant young Brahms is emotionally far from the reflective, reserved, and restrained composer of later years.
This is an exceptional disc. Exceptional both for the music Johannes Brahms’ three violin sonatas contain some of his most lovely writing and the performance French violinist Augustin Dumay and Portuguese pianist Maria Pires project a strong interpretive vision. The interpretation is more lyrical and thoughtful than typical, with somewhat slow tempi generally. This is married to exquisite – and I mean, exquisite – technique from both Pires and Dumay as well as an outstanding sound engineering job from DG. The excellence of this CD is comprehensive.