Recorded live, this "two-fer" SACD set captures the mix of raw emotions and tonal beauty elicited from the Berlin Phil by Claudio Abbado, in his first concert with the great band since relinquishing its music directorship. The Italian conductor's affinity with Mahler flows from head and heart, allowing him to grasp the Sixth's irony as well as its overwhelming pathos and emotional extremes. Expect to see glowing reviews and full-on interest from classical collectors.
Eloquence is the touchstone of Abbado's latest reading. A surprise, perhaps, given the work's fundamental life-and-death struggle, but all the more striking for his integrated overview of the essential conflicts, developments and structures revealed with keening potency rather than exaggeration or blatancy.
. . . Abbado never loses sight of the music's lyrical impulse, and the standard of orchestral playing is jaw-dropping, not least the woodwind's ability to play so quietly and to blend so beautifully. Abbado places the slow movement second rather than (as usual) third ¿ fair enough, given Mahler's own uncertainty about this, and it makes for intriguing listening.
I can't remember hearing a tauter, more refined performance than this, nor one that dispenses so completely with the heavy drapes of old-style Mahler interpretation.
Here is a cherishable memento of Abbado returning to his old orchestra and drawing playing of tautness and refinement.
. . . Claudio Abbado offers a sophisticated and scholarly modern alternative.
I can't remember hearing a tauter, more refined performance than this, nor one that dispenses so completely with the heavy drapes of old-style Mahler interpretation . . . an effortless, sometimes breathtaking transparency prevails . . . For all its fine detailing, Abbado's finale lacks nothing in intensity, with a devastating corporate thrust . . . I should add that the finale's hammer-blows are clearer and cleaner than I have ever heard them . . . the hard, dry brutality of his clinching fortissimo is guaranteed to take you by surprise. Donald Mitchell provides excellent booklet-notes to cap a remarkable release . . .
Abbado was a legendary Mahler conductor. His final recording of the Sixth, live in Berlin, is magnificent in its passion . . . His ravishingly beautiful Andante is peerless . . . The hammer blows here are as effective as you'll find on disc . . . DG's recording, like the playing, is superb.
Minutiös legt Claudio Abbado das verborgene Humanum von Mahlers sechster Sinfonie frei . . . staunt man . . . über die strenge Architektur, die präzise emotionale Kontrolle, die festgefügte Objektivität und die vielen schönen Stellen und idyllischen Momente in Abbados minutiöser Abbildung dieser lärmenden Sinfonie des Grauens.
Welch sinfonischer Schauer. Claudio Abbado disponiert Mahlers gigantisches Katastrophenszenario in lobenswerter Schlüssigkeit und lässt den kontrapunktischen Reichtum in fabelhafter Durchhörbarkeit erscheinen. Im Labyrinth der entfesselten Blechbrutalitäten, der klangverzauberten Naturidyllen bis hin zu den alles zermalmenden Hammerschlägen leuchten die Vorzüge der Berliner Philharmoniker: ein hell timbriertes Klangflair, erwärmende Horntöne und präzis intonierende Streicher. Gut, dass im mehrkanaligen Format nichts in breitflächiger Brillanz mündet.