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Bruckner/Beethoven - Symphony No. 7, Piano Concerto No. 3, Alfred Brendel, Claudio Abbado

5.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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  • Bruckner/Beethoven - Symphony No. 7, Piano Concerto No. 3, Alfred Brendel, Claudio Abbado
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Editorial Reviews

Alfred Brendel performs with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado at the Lucerne Festival, summer 2005.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Lucerne Festival Orchestra
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Classical, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: EuroArts
  • DVD Release Date: June 20, 2006
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000FGGK9E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #170,174 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Birman TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 30, 2006
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To categorize the nature of these two performances as similar to chamber music in style and sound is definitely not hyperbole. Not when the musicians in the Lucerne Festival Orchestra include the Hagen String Quartet, members of the Alban Berg String Quartet, clarinettist Sabine Meyer and her woodwind chamber ensemble Blaserensemble Sabine Meyer. There are assorted principal instrumentalists from the world's greatest orchestras, as well. It is a stunning collection of talent led by a gaunt but tanned Claudio Abbado, now 72 years old. He elicits subdued excellence from this assemblage: as if this orchestra is so convinced of its talent it has nothing to prove. There are no gratuitous grand gestures in either the Beethoven concerto or the Bruckner symphony. No bombast, even in the louder passages. The crescendos are played superbly but with restraint. This is confident music making.

Alfred Brendel, the great pianist whose reputation is for poetry and intelligence is provided an absolutely appropriate partner in the Beethoven. By emphasizing the lyrical serenity of Beethoven's score, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra establishes a real dialog with Brendel: allowing the pianist to shine by alternating Beethoven's louder public utterances with quieter, more introverted private musings. By maintaining this balance, it produces a reading that can truly be categorized as Olympian in its grandeur. This is one of the finest Beethoven Third Piano Concertos I've heard. In the Bruckner Seventh Symphony we hear a performance best categorized as Schubertian in its lyricism: with an almost Mozartian elegance in the first and second movements. Stentorian Wagnerisms are banished from the outer two movements, replaced by a lovely Viennese lilt.
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It's no secret that many people believe that Claudio Abbado, now back in reasonably good health after some health problems a few years ago, is one of the great conductors and possibly the greatest conductor currently before the public. I tend to agree with that assessment and treasure the one time I heard him conduct the Chicago Symphony as well as the growing number of CDs and especially DVDs that he has made with some of the world's great artists. The Lucerne Festival Orchestra is one that he fashioned from the members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (a group he also founded) plus world-famous soloists like clarinetist Sabine Meyer, flutist Jacques Zoon, cellist Natalia Gutman, members of the Alban Berg and Hagen Quartets, and principals of some of the world's great orchestras like Kolja Blacher, concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic, and horn Bruno Schneider, formerly of the Suisse Romande. This group plays like a large chamber ensemble and I can't tell you how important that is to the two works presented here.

The Third Beethoven Concerto, with the redoubtable Alfred Brendel as soloist, is played in a classic manner with impeccable ensemble, with a glowing but not glaring spotlight on the orchestral sections and principals as they converse with the Brendel. Brendel's approach is rather introverted in slight contrast to the orchestra's more outward commentary. This comes across more like a chamber music performance than a big public statement. Clearly this is at least partly the doing of Abbado. Every nuance is indicated by him and one can see him gently shaping dynamics and phrasing in a manner one might expect in, say, a string quartet or piano trio. The camera focuses for long periods on his conducting which I find extremely rewarding.
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This disc contains two fine performances of standard repertoire but with clear characteristics that set them apart from many of the competition.

The Beethoven concerto is the least surprising in so far as Brendel's approach to playing Beethoven has been honed over an entire working life and has been made familiar to collectors by recordings made at differing points in his career. Generally it would be fair to comment that his earlier recordings on Vox were somewhat livelier as befits a younger man and that his later performances have become more deeply thoughtful as befits a player of increasing maturity in age. However, Brendel has always been essentially a thoughtful pianist and these differences are more a matter of degree rather than type. Brendel has always been Brendel and recognisable as such. What we have here, with attentive support from Abbado and his excellent orchestra is a satisfying culmination of years of consideration unhindered by any technical consideration.

The Bruckner 7 is a quite different interpretation from the norm. There is an increased dynamic range downwards to increased pianissimos and variety of quiet and soft phrasing. This is, at times, almost akin to private conversations between instruments and instrumentalists. Abbado has put together an orchestra made up of players with experience in chamber music and who therefore have an enhanced sensitivity to such playing. This comes over strongly in this performance where individuality is more apparent than the usual imposing blocks of sound. Throughout Abbado keeps a gentle forward flowing tempo and the overall effect is one of enhanced sensitivity to phrasing rather than of architectural structures. This is more of an inspirational reading rather than an imposing one.
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