DAVID A. FLETCHER | Richmond, Va United States | 06/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With this release of last year's Lucerne Festival performance of the Mahler 7th, Claudio Abbado further enhances his credentials as one of the world's preeminent Mahler conductors, and his hand-picked Lucerne Festival Orchestra (now minus flutist Emmanuel Pahud, but no matter) convinces us yet again of its role as the agent of that conviction. All of the wonders of Abbado's earlier outing in the 7th with the Berlin Philharmonic are intact, with the DVD medium visually reinforcing the obvious sense of pleasure enjoyed by the participants. Given the heavy concentration of BPO musicians in the Lucerne Orchestra, supplemented as they are by stellar chamber music performers like Sabine Meyer and the Hagen Quartet, what we're presented with here is truly a "dream band."
I can't think of another conductor, even the much celebrated MTT, who more readily communicates the joy and exuberance contained in this score, the sense of wonder and mystery contained in all those things that "go bump in the night," and-- in the sphere of musical craftsmanship--the ability to negotiate all of Mahler's fits and starts and changes of mood so persuasively. Abbado revels in every turn of phrase, every change in voicing, but never loses focus of the overarching musical line. It is simply a masterclass in conducting.
The sound balance is a bit more forward than in previous Lucerne Festival issues; indeed, the audio perspective is that of Abbado's podium. I've not heard the surround playback, so I can't really comment on any differences there. Beyond that, the soundstage production is quite realistic, just not one of ambient depth.
This performance is a welcome addition to Abbado's remarkable DVD series, joining earlier outings with the 2nd and 5th symphonies by the Lucerne Orchestra, and that of the 9th with Abbado and the Mahler Youth Orchestra. Given Abbado's precarious health in the past several years, we can only hope that he'll be able to complete a full Mahler cycle on DVD, and perhaps revisit the 9th with the marvelous Lucerne ensemble. In the interim, we're all now privileged to join that lucky Swiss audience in witnessing more of Abbado's extraordinary Mahler. Watch, listen, and be amazed."
Probably the best Mahler's Seventh
Muraari Vasudevan | Everett, WA USA | 06/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Given that Abbado's famous CSO recording was already the best Mahler's 7th around, the fact that this one is even more brilliant surely means that this is a must buy for all Mahler and Abbado lovers. The performance is truly electric. My only complaint is that this DVD does not feature the multiple angle option to allow you to watch Abbado unlike the DVD release of Abbado conducting Mahler's 5th at Lucerne. Bravo Abbado for continuing to thrill us with some amazing renditions of Mahler's works and I look forward to more fantastic recordings."
Mahler's 'Symphonie Fantastique' -- It'll Give You Goosebump
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 06/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The series of DVDs of live performances of Mahler's symphonies with Claudio Abbado leading the Lucerne Festival Orchestra continues apace. We already had DVDs of Nos. 2, 5, 9 -- and now comes the Seventh recorded in the summer of 2005. All of them are simply marvelous in terms of interpretation, sound and video. Abbado has proven himself to be one of the best Mahlerians of our age and I hope this series continues until we have all of the symphonies plus Das Lied von der Erde.
I have a very special place in my heart for the Seventh. It was my first Mahler symphony -- Hermann Scherchen leading the Vienna State Opera Orchestra (the Vienna Philharmonic in its other guise) released in 1950 -- and I wore it out playing it. I had no idea at the time that I was listening to Mahler's quirkiest symphony. I simply knew I loved every note of it (including the Vienna trumpeter's two cracked high C's in the last movement). Only later did I understand that the Seventh is probably the least familiar for most musiclovers and often the least-liked as well. I continue to feel it is an extremely strong work. It helps newcomers to be told that it is spooky like much of Berlioz's 'Symphonie Fantastique.' It even has a Witches' Sabbath movement (Mvt. III) even though it's not called that by Mahler. The whole symphony, though, was called 'The Song of the Night' and that pretty much sums up its atmosphere, at least until we get to the dawn and sunrise of the fifth and final movement.
As for this performance, I can't find a single thing to criticize. The tempi are perfect, the shaping of phrases and the molding of dynamics are perfect, the orchestra's playing cannot be faulted. Indeed, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra may be the best orchestra I know, made up as it is of principals from the major European orchestras, string players from the Hagen and Berg Quartets, members of Sabine Meyer's wind ensemble (she is the orchestra's principal clarinet), as well as members of the crack young Mahler Chamber Orchestra founded by Abbado in 1997, all former members of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, itself founded by Abbado in 1986. (Many of the GMJO members have graduated to important positions throughout the world.) The MCO players' skill and enthusiasm are palpable in these DVDs. I suppose when you're playing behind some of the best players in the world (e.g. Kolja Blacher, concertmaster; Natalia Gutman, cello; Albrecht Mayer, oboe; Sabine Meyer; Wolfram Christ, viola, etc.) you do tend to play above your head. As for individual performances in this DVD one must single out principal trombonist Mark Templeton (principal in the London Symphony) who plays the euphonium (tenor horn) solos in the symphony's opening measures and throughout the first movement. Trumpet Reinhold Friedrich shines in the fifth movement's stratospheric trumpet writing. And we mustn't forget the marvelous horn playing of Alessio Allegrini, principal in the La Scala Orchestra. (And although he is not named, I must also mention the excellent mandolin player in Mvt. IV who gets to play the only mandolin part Mahler ever put into any of his symphonies -- unless you count 'Das Lied' as one of the symphonies.)
Sound is exemplary. Camerawork is unobtrusive, the editing clearly in touch with events in the musical score but without jumping about unnecessarily. There is plenty of opportunity to watch Abbado, who may be one of the most expressive conductors I've ever seen.
This DVD is one to treasure. I recommend it without reservation.
TT=78 mins. Sound: PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1. Disc format: DVD 9
Sustained beauty and energy, moving on deliberately and purp
Pater Ecstaticus | Norway | 07/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"All of the same as with maestro Abbado's excellent recording of the same symphony with the Berliner Philharmoniker (Mahler: Symphony No.7) goes here as well. And with some extra's, like the excellent and captivating images of the orchestra and the maestro at work. But also, the sound is even better (balanced) here than in the 2002 Berlin recording, which is quite a feat. The sound is even more 'rounded out' here, with a sense of more depth - a completely natural and positively crystal clear soundscape. Sometimes the mandoline or the guitar sounds 'spotlighted' somewhat, but since the camera is pointed directly at the instruments - so that it seems to be 'in our face', as it were - it only feels and sounds completely natural. I would like to repeat what I said earlier, for the Berlin recording, which I adore, namely that Claudio Abbado and the orchestra manage to sustain notes and melodies, 'energy', over the longest possible arcs, never lingering, providing the music with a wonderful sense of coherence - a feeling of the music continually moving on deliberately and purposefully. This sometimes feels like a swift performance, full of (nervous) energy, just because of this immence concentration and intensity of playing. But while other conductors would resort to 'tricks' or idiosyncracies to stress the character of certain passages in the music, maestro Abbado always seems to make the music sound the way it should (boisterous, mysterious, sweet, energetic, feverish...) without EVER (over)stressing any point or 'resorting to tricks'. And no sentimentality whatsoever: only the purest of sentiments here. True 'purified' or 'rarified' Mahler. Alongside for example the absolutely gorgeous DVD of Mahler's Ninth (Mahler - Symphony No. 9 / Claudio Abbado, Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, Accademia Di Santa Cecilia, Rome), this performance/recording is to be rated as some of the best Mahler ever, IMHO. Also, the playing of this Lucerne Festival Orchestra, with some of the 'best in the trade', could not be bettered, of course. Highly recommended."
Stupendous all around
Ronald D. Foster | Brush, CO United States | 05/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have recently started upgrading my music collection from cds' to dvds' for the quatum leap in sound quality and the added bonus of actually watching the performance taking place. Mahler is a particular favorite and this is truly as good as it gets without being there live. I also have Abbados 9th and 2nd and they are equally great. I understand the maestro is having health problems but what a legacy if he could leave performances of all the Mahler symphonies. Highest possible reccomendation."