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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Abbado's Stravinsky from his LSO period is very fine, September 21, 2006
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This review is from: Stravinsky: Le Sacre du printemps (Rite of Spring) / The Firebird / Jeu de cartes / Petrouchka / Pulcinella (Audio CD)
Abbado thrived in London in the Seventies and early Eighties with the LSO, and their collaboration produced some of his most vigorous performances. These Stravinsky ballets are among them. (I can't agree with David Hurwitz that Abbado never got better--he reached an inspired apex in his last years with the Berlin Phil.) DG's bargain two-fer features dynamic, high-impact sound, especially in Le Sacre. Admittdly, there are passing moments when Abbado, as was his wont, turns a bit tame and cautious, but the overall impression is of a brash, propulsive Le Sacre. The Firebird Suite is the only item that's seriously underplayed.

Petrushka gets another vivid recording and lots of commitment from the LSo; it also finds Abbado at his most involved. But for me the main attraction isn't the most familiar works but Abbado's complete Pulcinella and the Balanchine-commissioned Jeu de Carte (Hurwitz mistakenly calls Jeu a late work. With Stravinsky, late means 1950-71, not 1937, when this ballet was premiered). Abbado's approach is classical and balanced, but there's a good deal of inner life, which Stravinsky's subdued neoclassical ballets need if they are to connect with a concert audience.

I especially like the Pulcinella, which is an oddly difficult work to bring off desipte its hummable melodies a lively commedia dell-arte mood. Abbado plays it lightly, with refined textures and attacks that aren't as dry and sharp as we usually expect, articularly from the composer himself. Purists may find Abbado too mellifluous, but he's never rough and vulgar. He's lucky in his prestige vocalists (Berganza, Shirley-Quirk, and Davies), who struggle just a bit in songs that often defeat lessert singers.

All in all, there's stiff competition in these pieces, but Abbado gives ue the best omnium gatherum of all five.
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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 9, 2011 3:27:12 PM PST
"I can't agree with David Hurwitz that Abbado never got better--he reached an inspired apex in his last years with the Berlin Phil."

Does anybody agree with Hurwitz? I mean the guy doesn't have a clue as to what he's even talking about most of the time. He continuously praises recordings that, in most cases, don't deserve it and can't stand on their own against the competition. I read recently he gave Eschenbach's Tchaikovsky recordings on Ondine a 10/10 rating. Has he actually heard those recordings? They're not the finest in the catalog, but his overhyped review wouldn't have you to believe this. In Hurwitz's view, Eschenbach is a supreme conductor which rivals greats like Bernstein, Abbado, Karajan, Solti, Reiner, or Barbirolli. I simply do not understand his logic and I fail to understand how he's come to the conclusions he has had about music in the first place.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 9, 2011 4:05:00 PM PST
I doubt that he arrives at conclusions. His self-image and reputation (such as it is) depends on confounding received opinion. It's tiresome as a habitual stance, and it only works if you are more perceptive, far-seeing, or unorthodox than other critics. Hurwitz is simply an opinionator, and it must eat him up that another of his species, Norman Lebrecht, has reached the limelight using the same contrarian tactics.

Posted on Oct 11, 2011 8:27:44 AM PDT
STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Niether H*****z nor L******t deserve this attention. Thanks for another fine review. Eschenbach is another who bores me. Am I right in thinking he used to be a pianist? Was he any good at that?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 11, 2011 11:55:35 AM PDT
Eschenbach had a fairly prominent career in his younger days as a pianist for DG and EMi. A good many recordings are still around, but I would never say he was in the first rank. As a conductor he has his moments, and his career has been prestigious, but the Philadelphia musicians rebelled for a reason.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 7:20:46 PM PST
> Does anybody agree with Hurwitz?

In addition to disagreeing with most of his music reviews, his "factual" information is often riddled with errors. I always steer classical newbies away from anything of his. It's hard to get off on a worse foot as a beginner looking to understand classical music.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 7:21:31 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jun 9, 2013 4:34:13 PM PDT
> Am I right in thinking he used to be a pianist? Was he any good at that?

Yes and no.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 8:01:59 PM PST
I noticed at is website that he panned Frank Shipway's new Alpine Symphony, a marvelous recording.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 10:57:16 PM PST
marcabru says:
NB The reference to white ballets or "ballets blancs" is not accurate.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 11:06:17 PM PST
Yes, I've been corrected wherever I misuse the hrase. Thanks.

Posted on Jan 11, 2013 11:30:17 AM PST
At least Hurwitz isn't quite as bad as a certain individual currently on the BBC's books.
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