In memory of Claudio Abbado, who died on 20 January 2014 and who was closely associated with LUCERNE FESTIVAL for nearly five decades, audite and LUCERNE FESTIVAL are issuing three previously unreleased live recordings, approved by the conductor himself. They have now become a musical legacy, uniting all elements of his art in exemplary fashion: the absolute dedication which in itself made every one of his concerts an almost existential experience; the moments of highest musical internalisation, but also of rousing vitality, which characterised his interpretations; his self-professed view of himself as a “primus inter pares” within the collective of the orchestra, nurturing that chamber music culture of performers listening and responding to one another.
On 5 September 1978, Claudio Abbado and the Vienna Philharmonic performed Franz Schubert’s Unfinished in Lucerne – a moving interpretation, emphasising the lyrical character of the work and creating a single arc of suspense from the sombre opening to the concluding transfiguration of the second movement. This work closes a circle insofar as Claudio Abbado also conducted Schubert’s Unfinished at his final concert, given on 26 August 2013 in Lucerne. On 25 August 1988, on the occasion of the festival’s fiftieth anniversary, Abbado and the Chamber Orchestraof Europe performed exactly the same program with which Arturo Toscanini had opened the Luzerner Festspiele in 1938, including Ludwig van Beethoven’s Second Symphony and Richard Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, the latter written in Lucerne. The Neue Zürcher Zeitung commented enthusiastically that “the sonic subtleties of the Siegfried Idyll were masterfully executed and carried through to a poignant ending with consistency in formand content. And in Abbado’s interpretation of Beethoven’s Second Symphony the structural clarity of theindividual movements was combined with an unabated, almost newly inspired joy of performing amongst theorchestra”.
All three live recordings are released here for the first time. A particularly attractive aspect of this compilation is the fact that Abbado made studio recordings of the Beethoven and Schubert symphonies with the “opposite” orchestras - i.e. Schubert’s Unfinished with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (1987) and Beethoven’s Second Symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic (1988) - allowing revealing insights. The extensive booklet in three languages contains a portrait of Claudio Abbado by Peter Hagmann, tracing the conductor’s long-standing activities in Lucerne; also included are previously unpublished photos from the archives of LUCERNE FESTIVAL. In cooperation with audite, LUCERNE FESTIVAL presents outstanding concert recordings of artists who have shaped the festival throughout its history. The aim of this CD edition is to rediscover treasures - most of which have not been released previously - from the first six decades of the festival, which was founded in 1938 with a special gala concert conducted by Arturo Toscanini. These recordings have been made available by the archives of SRF Swiss Radio and Television, which has broadcast the Lucerne concerts from the outset. Carefully remastered and supplemented with photos and materials from the LUCERNE FESTIVAL archive, they represent a sonic history of the festival.