Album of the Week: Mozart and Haydn, conducted by Claudio Abbado

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 December, 2014, 12:10am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 December, 2014, 12:10am

Mozart and Haydn
Claudio Abbado

This is the last studio recording of the late Claudio Abbado (1933-2014), and what a swan song it is. With a lifetime of recordings of massive works such as Mahler symphonies and operas, the Italian maestro returned to two early classical works of Mozart and Haydn and recorded them with the last orchestra he put together as its chief.

Orchestra Mozart Bologna, a chamber-size ensemble of 40 players, delivered refined sound quality in light texture in Mozart's oboe concerto.

The crystal-clean strings were matched by Lucas Macias Navarro, the superb principal oboist from the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, another Abbado band in his last years.

His exquisite phrasing added to the charm of the music, especially those long lines in the slow movement. The cadenzas were his platform for virtuosity and there was no lack of it. The orchestra was by no means passive. The soaring viola passage in the final movement was a nice surprise.

In Haydn's Sinfonia Concertante, the oboe was joined by a violin, a cello, and a bassoon to form a quartet in a dialogue with the orchestra. With timpani strokes, the structure was full-bodied but the balance remained sound, thanks to the excellent acoustics at the hall in Zaragoza. The four instruments intertwined in duet or trio in great music-making. The vivacious mood reached a height in the final notes, a smiling and fitting conclusion for the accomplished maestro.