Schubert

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: Symphony No. 9
ALBUM TITLE: Schubert
WORKS: Symphony No. 9
PERFORMER: Orchestra Mozart/Claudio Abbado
CATALOGUE NO: DG 479 4652

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This wonderful work, usually called No. 9 in the UK, and either No. 7 or No. 8 in German-speaking countries, was always a speciality of Claudio Abbado’s. In this recording, live from performances given in Bologna and Bolzano in 2011 with the last orchestra he founded, he reaches extraordinary heights, previously only reached, in my experience, by a couple of other conductors, and a long time ago. Every bar surges with energy, thrust, warmth of tone, miraculous detail in even the fastest passages and, all told, what I can only say is a huge joy in living, which must leave every sensitive listener stirred to the depths. Abbado seems freer here than he usually was, with beautifully tailored rallentandos (unmarked but always appropriate), climactic passages where he pushes the orchestra along, and vast thrilling climaxes which lift you out of your seat. He takes all the repeats, which means all the music apart from the opening Andante, so it’s perhaps the longest performance that I’ve heard. But you welcome every repeat, because you know something fresh and revealing will happen.

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The Orchestra Mozart, which apparently consisted of some older players than is often thought, is well up to every challenge that Abbado offers them, and there are plenty. Fortunately Deutsche Grammophon’s superb recording is fully able to cope with the immense volume that they often achieve. This is without doubt one of the records of a lifetime. Michael Tanner