Monday, August 19, 2013

Bruckner symphonies in Claudio Abbado: The Symphony Edition

This 41 CD collection of Abbado recordings contains five live performances of Bruckner symphonies – four re-releases and one recording being released for the first time. The new recording is the First Symphony in the 189-/91 Vienna edition, recorded live with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in August 2012. It is one of the highlights of the mini-set, the other being a benchmark performance of the Ninth (from 1996 with the Vienna Philharmonic). The Ninth strikes a wonderful balance between power and lyricism, with the beautiful sound of the Vienna Philharmonic harnessed to a deep vision of Bruckner's final symphony. The other three performances are much less satisfying, unfortunately. Neither the Fourth, the Fifth, nor the Seventh really convince. The sound is always polished and Abbado is clearly at home in the score. But the performances lack the depth and intensity that we find in some of Abbado's more recent performances with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra (e.g. this recording of the Fifth from 2011).

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