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The Last Concert - Claudio Abbado and the Berliner Philharmoniker

The Last Concert - Claudio Abbado and the Berliner Philharmoniker

Berliner Philharmoniker  BHPR 160089 (2 discs)

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream (excerpts)
Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique

Deborah York (soprano)
Stella Doufexis (mezzo-soprano)
Damen des Chors des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Berliner Philharmoniker
Claudio Abbado (conductor)


Claudio Abbado (1933–2014) was one of the outstanding personalities in the history of the Berliner Philharmoniker. In May 2013, their unique partnership ended with Abbado’s last concert with the orchestra. The programme included two of the most important works of musical Romanticism: Hector Berlioz’s visionary Symphonie fantastique and Felix Mendelssohn’s magical, shimmering music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. To mark the second anniversary of Claudio Abbado’s death on 20 January 2016, audio and video recordings of this memorable evening have been released in a hardcover luxury edition. With comprehensive articles, bonus videos and previously unpublished photographs, it documents Abbado’s work with the orchestra whose chief conductor he was from 1990 to 2002.

The recordings impressively convey the special atmosphere of the evening: the great affection the orchestra and the audience had for Claudio Abbado – and of course the enthusiasm for the musical performances. Renowned not least for his clever concert programming, Abbado combined two works here that deal with the theme of dreams in music in very different ways: Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream conveys the multifaceted magical atmosphere of Shakespeare’s original, while Berlioz uses modern means to tell his delirious tale of fateful love and drug-induced hallucinations. Abbado’s performance brings out the full splendour of these scores. It is – as the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote – a “wonder, the freedom and youthful-like spirit with which the soon to be octogenarian expends himself, which he radiates and which he presents to his audience from the conductor’s stand.”

The edition contains the recordings on CD and in high resolution audio on a Blu-ray disc which also features a video of the concert. The bonus material includes a historical documentary about Abbado’s first year as chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker. In addition, the concert is now available in a new, lower-priced version on 2 CDs/SACDs which can be played on any CD or SACD player. For vinyl fans, the recordings are also being released in a limited collector’s edition on 3 LPs. Both editions include a hardcover booklet with many illustrations and extensive accompanying texts.

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Comment by Longjohns and Wifebeaters - February 15, 2019 (1 of 1)

Not Abbado's finest work ever, and not in the best possible sonics, either (although still quite good by most everyone else's standards). Start from elsewhere; this is for the conductor's fans, mostly. His Chicago "Symphonie" (on RBCD) is far more involving and impressively done and his Sony Mendelssohn is already legendary (and also available on SACD through the Esoteric procedure: Mendelssohn: Ein Sommernachtstraum, Symphony No. 4 - Abbado). Go for those to get a picture of this great, perhaps the greatest, of our more or less contemporary conductors, if you're not acquainted with these works from before.

The physical package is aesthetically impressive, however, and ultra high quality, and none of it will bankrupt you, just as with everything coming directly from BPO, which is very nice and cause to be grateful and happy.

EDIT: Just checked the prices of the linked items. Not sure what's going on, but those are near-astronomical. Bizarre. I paid about USD 20 for a new copy for the SACD (two SACDs) version. Check with the label itself, I'd say, if interested (they have their own shop).