Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Claudio Abbado

The problem with musical tastes that are, as I keep saying, broad rather than deep is that when someone as significant and much-loved as Claudio Abbado dies, I can't add useful insight. Yes, I really like such-and-such a recording but I'm not qualified to explain to you why it was maestro Abbado's insert conducting quality here that lifted it to the realms of the transcendent. I can tell you that I was once transfixed when I turned on the radio and heard him conducting the slow movement of Mahler's 6th. I can tell you that the first proper Abbado recording I bought was a Decca selection of Hindemith on which he led the LSO in the Symphonic Metamorphoses, and I'm really fond of that album. I can even tell you that the first non-proper Abbado recording I owned was an excerpt from his recording of Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande on a Classic CD cover disc (issue 23, the one I keep going on about), though I'll admit that didn't particularly catch my ear. Also, his was the only Beethoven 9 I had for a long time. And the most recent of his recordings that I own seems to be his work with Isabelle Faust on the Berg and Beethoven violin concertos.
He will be missed. I suspect this will be the only obituary/appreciation/inane rambling that gives you Abbado's Spitting Image puppet though.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Of his Mahler 6 recordings, I was especially fond of the May 1967 Vienna Symphony performance. Heartbreaking winds in slow movement. May 67 was a magic year. (The liner notes alluded to Abbado's acknowledgement of Bruno Walter, to the extent of studying Walter's recordings.)
I think he implemented an approach he was quoted as expressing, to the effect that he polished the sound to the extreme point of being beautiful as opposed to gritty (compare with Perlman's comments in The Art of Violin about "zhit")- it surprises me that an approach I would not advocate works so well in Mahler.