Bruckner I/IX

Claudio Abbado / Lucerne Festival Orchestra

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Bruckner I/IX Review

by Blair Sanderson

Over the course of his career, Claudio Abbado recorded several, though not all, of Anton Bruckner’s symphonies, leading first-rate performances with the Vienna Philharmonic on Deutsche Grammophon. However, his later live recordings with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra on Accentus are equally superb. The Symphony No. 1 in C minor was seemingly a favorite in Abbado’s repertoire, and this energetic 2012 performance won the Bruckner Society Recording of the Year in 2014. The unfinished Symphony No. 9 in D minor was recorded at Abbado’s final concert with Lucerne in 2013 and received accolades for its visionary qualities and impeccable execution. Both recordings were previously issued separately, but they are presented here as a double-disc package from Accentus, essentially framing Abbado’s portrait of the composer as an innovative symphonist, and outlining his own involvement with this music. The contrasts between the First, with its more conventional and relatively compact Romantic symphonic form, and the Ninth, with its expansive and mystical orientation, transcending 19th century norms, give Abbado’s readings a focus that would be difficult to maintain through a full cycle of the symphonies. He had few rivals in his musicality, attention to details, and complete understanding of Bruckner's development of symphonic form, and listeners who might feel lost in these long, capacious symphonies will find Abbado's interpretations lucid, cogent, and ultimately inspiring.

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