Verdi: Operatic overtures, preludes,

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Verdi
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Operatic overtures, preludes,
PERFORMER: Berlin PO/Claudio Abbado
CATALOGUE NO: 457 627-2
Where is the market for discs of orchestral music from the Verdi operas, and what does Abbado, one of the greatest living masters of the Verdian experience in the round, hope to say with potpourris and scene-setters? Both questions were banished with the first, compelling blasts and phrases of the Overture to The Force of Destiny and never entered my head again for the next 55 minutes. This is music-making of the keenest vitality and suppleness of movement, finely attuned to the characters in question. You register instantly that Luisa Miller is a drama of unusual intimacy, that Aida’s sorrow is tempered by unearthly sweetness and that Don Carlos’s love is fired by a visionary nostalgia. Both Violetta’s love of the frivolous in the Act I Prelude and her dying agonies in Act Three fade to the subtlest of pianissimos – the Karajan tradition lives on here – while between them the witches of Macbeth cavort with exhilarating lunacy. The Berlin strings quiver and burn for their conductor, and the glowing acoustics certainly help to make amends for some of the dismal DG engineering that bedevilled Abbado’s La Scala recordings of complete Verdi operas. There are no surprises in the programming, but Abbado’s ever-increasing ability to make his orchestra vocalise is cause enough for wonder. David Nice

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