There's no such thing as a "definitive" recording, but if there were, this one would come close to that imagined ideal. Its special qualities haven't dimmed a bit in the four decades since it was recorded, and every interpretive decision comes across with the inevitability of fate itself… If you don't own this performance in some form, then you don't know the "New World". –David Hurwitz
The Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989. On Christmas Day 1989, only six weeks later, due to the organizational skills of Leonard Bernstein (and others) an historic concert of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was given in the Schauspielhaus in the former East Berlin with instrumentalists and singers from a number of different countries. These included orchestra members from the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, the Staatskapelle Dresden, the Orchestra of the Kirov Theater of Leningrad, the London Symphony, the New York Philharmonic and the Orchestre de Paris. The choruses were those of Bavarian and Berlin Radio as well as, unusually, the Children's Choir of the Philharmonie Dresden. Soloists were June Anderson (soprano, American), Sarah Walker (mezzo, British), Klaus König (tenor, German) and Jan-Hendrik Rootering (bass, Dutch). The concert was broadcast all over the world and the crowd in the plaza outside the Schauspielhaus could be also seen watching the event on television. I remember seeing the event but strangely remember it as having been an outdoors concert; obviously, I was mostly remembering that joyous crowd of Berliners outside the hall. One could see them and the audience inside the hall hugging in celebration of the event and of the new-found ability of citizens of the two Germanys to mix with each other again.
Claudio Abbado and his hand-picked players of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra take their acclaimed Mahler cycle to a new level with this performance of the most complex and compelling of the symphonies, the intense, searching Ninth. Abbado brings all his renowned clarity of vision and the experience of a lifetime to this contradictory music – half valedictory, half life-affirming – and his “orchestra of soloists”, including some of the leading instrumentalists of our time, revels in the transparent textures and virtuosity of Mahler’s last completed symphony. “A rendition … of astonishing depth and subtlety” (Daily Telegraph).
In his final performances with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in August 2013, Claudio Abbado conducted Anton Bruckner's unfinished Symphony No. 9 in D minor, and this recording is drawn from the best takes from those concerts. Considering that this rendition came near the end of Abbado's life and stands as a worthy testament to his achievements, it's easy to read too much into the interpretation, and to view it as a mystical or transcendent reading because of the circumstances. On the one hand, Abbado's understanding of this symphony was as thorough as any conductor's, and the Lucerne musicians played with seriousness and dedication, offering a version that has impressive power and expressive depth. On the other hand, there are many competitive recordings that either match Abbado's for strength and feeling, or surpass it in purely technical terms of sound quality and reproduction. Certainly the sound is exceptional, according to Deutsche Grammophon's high standards, and this stereo recording is exceptionally clean and noise-free.
Combining the forces of two of the 20th century´s greatest musicians – Yehudi Menuhin and Herbert von Karajan in their only recorded performance together – this magnificent programme marks a high point in filmed classical music. Both features, Mozart´s Violin Concerto No. 5 and Dvorák´s “New World” Symphony, were directed by master film-maker and long-time Karajan collaborator Henri-Georges Clouzot (The Wages of Fear). Bonus: Herbert von Karajan in conversation with Yehudi Menuhin (on Mozart) and Prof. Joachim Kaiser (on Dvorák). Special bonus feature: Previously unreleased rehearsal session prior to Violin Concerto No. 5!
Pairing evergreen works by Dvorak and Mussorgsky, this superb video from Belvedere featuring the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under the incomparable Mariss Jansons is a musical feast. Ever since its world premiere at New York's Carnegie Hall on December 15, 1893, Dvorak's American-flavored Symphony No.9 has been a cornerstone of the orchestral repertoire. Similarly, thanks to Ravel's superb orchestration, Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition is a perennial audience favorite.
"…I've known and loved the Solti/CSO "New World" recording for years; it is now relegated to the re-gifting pile. If you are a Dvorak fan, buy this disc." ~sa-cd.net