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The Wanderer Chronicles - No. 34: Abbado at Lucerne (March 19th 2010)
Claudio ABBADO conducts the Sinfonica della Juventud Venezolana Simon Bolivar (SBYO) at the Lucerne Easter Festival (March 19th 2010)
It was on March 19th in Lucerne, the first Spring concert in Europe of Claudio Abbado after two months spent in Venezuela and some concerts with the Sinfonica de la Juventud Venezolana Simon Bolivar. They came especially for four concerts to Lucerne. First of all: he was looking very well, he skipped up the steps, conducted with a baton again, was all smiles and very energetic. That those who are worried about his health be reassured: he is very well and as usual the contact with young people galvanizes him.
A conversation the following day with some of the very young members of this orchestra was enlightening: « Where he leads us, we go », « We realize that we play better without knowing why », « He makes us do incredible things ».
Incredible, that is the word. Even if we attend ten Abbado concerts a year we forget every time again the energy, vigour, dynamism, explosion of youth and freedom which he emanates - to the musicians as to the audience. It is like an endless discovery of the obvious: something happens there, something strong, rare, deep in (almost) every concert.
The other evening in Lucerne it was a miracle. The conjunction of a splendid programme, a fantastic energy and an absolutely extraordinary, inspired orchestra. Barely had Abbado jumped onto the podium and the explosion of the paroxysmal Scythian Suite by Prokofiev started. I am not a big enthusiast of this certainly powerful music, composed originally for a future ballet by Diaghilev, but without being much liked. For Diaghilev Prokofiev will write "Chout". The orchestra plays fortissimo, at a bewildering speed, the score is interpretated with a crystalline clarity and formidable precision.
Wonderful. But what a contrast to the Lulu Symphony, full of subtlety: the same clarity, the same precision, but this time instead of an enormous power a lyric sparkling of notes. A music of an amazing lyricism, where we are rather accustomed to the cold surgery of Boulez. The final part is really remarkable, it sounds like the Mahler of the 9th Symphony, an irremediable, infinite sadness. And then a voice, fresh, smooth, technically perfect, which immediately IS Lulu: that of Anna Prohaska, a young soprano from Berlin, who Abbado would like as Lulu. Abbado wants her so much that he gives an encore for her, " Ach ich fühl's " from the Magic Flute. In perspective with the music of Berg the music of Mozart sounds heartrendingly sad too. An exceptional moment, sung with a softness and a depth which are surprising .
The symphony "Pathétique" is then approached in an interpretation which reminds us of the big Mravinski, but that, when you listen again to the old Russian conductor, goes even further in way of energy and contrasts. The most lyric parts are exacerbated, the interpretation is hypersensitive, moving.
Then comes the 3rd movement and this explosion of energy makes us drunken. It is like a rough ocean, (ah! these 13 double basses, the 15 violoncellos!), to such an extent that some in the audience try to applaud, but Abbado does not mark even a split second of silence between the third and fourth movements - a movement he fills with depth, bitterness and painful humanity.
Creation date : 31/10/2010 @ 10:20
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