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 With comprehensive articles, bonus videos and previously unpublished photographs, it documents Abbado’s work with the orchestra whose chief conductor he was from 1990 to 2002.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.” (Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings)