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Paul E. Robinson
La Scena Musicale, January 2010

Both the Schoenberg and the Mahler works on this DVD date from around 1900 and it was an excellent idea on Abbado’s part to combine them in the same concert given in Vienna in 2006. While they are contemporary, there is plenty of contrast. The Schoenberg is dark and tragic but the Mahler is among his more light-hearted creations. Before the Schoenberg there is a 15-minute introduction that is helpful in relating the Pelléas and Mélisande story to the music.

The Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester (GMJO) is a youth orchestra in name only. Its quality rivals all but a handful of the world’s great orchestras. For this concert the orchestra was huge, including twelve double basses and four harps. Under Abbado they explore a vast dynamic range but play with amazing subtlety, especially in the last movement of the Mahler.

Abbado is by now a widely recognized Mahler authority on the basis of recordings with the Vienna Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and this Mahler Fourth with the GMJO is as good as it gets. Abbado is never selfindulgent in the Bernstein manner nor does he distance himself in the manner of Boulez. He is deeply involved on an emotional level but only after making sure that all the technical problems have been solved. A fine concert and very well produced for film by Paul Smaczny and Hans Hulscher.

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4:01:46 PM, 2 September 2015
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