Claudio Abbado: 10 great recordings with 10 different orchestras

James McCarthy
Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Claudio Abbado left a substantial recorded legacy, and looking through his discography, it’s striking how many different ensembles he worked with. Here’s a list of 10 outstanding recordings made with 10 different ensembles.


Mendelssohn Symphonies Nos 1-5; Overtures

London Symphony Orchestra (DG 471 467-2GB4) Buy from Amazon

'This was one of Abbado’s biggest recording projects with the orchestra of which he was music director and remains a richly rewarding legacy...' Read full review


Berg Wozzeck

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (DG 423 587-2) Buy from Amazon

'One is aware that this is a genuine performance, not a studio replica of one. A tiny example is the way that Behrens's voice momentarily breaks with pity and guilt as Marie thanks Wozzeck for giving her his wages: it is a spur-of-the-moment thing, even an involuntary one, and certainly not premeditated; it is over in a second, but it adds a poignantly graphic stroke to her portrayal...' Read full review


Gramophone Recording of the Year 1986

Rossini Il viaggio a Reims

Chamber Orchestra of Europe (DG 415 498-1GH3) Buy from Amazon

'Abbado's conducting is masterly. His ear for Rossini's sonorities cannot be faulted. The wind playing is exemplary and the strings of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe wonderfully catch that peculiarly Rossinian sound, fire and ice at the same time...' Read full review 


Gramophone Opera Award 2006

Mozart Die Zauberflöte

Gustav Mahler Chamber Orchestra (DG 477 5789GH2) Buy from Amazon

'This is certainly the most desirable version using modern instruments to appear since Solti's second recording in 1990...' Read full review


Gramophone Recording of the Year 2006

Mahler Symphony No 6

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (DG 477 5684GSA2) Buy from Amazon

'Whatever the revolution in playing standards since January 1966, when Barbirolli conducted Mahler's Sixth in Berlin, I can't remember hearing a tauter, more refined performance than this, nor one that dispenses so completely with the heavy drapes of old-style Mahler interpretation...' Read full review


Verdi Macbeth 

Orchestra and Chorus of La Scala, Milan (DG 449 7322) Buy from Amazon

'The recording is glorious, reconciling pit and stage and putting the entire drama tangibly, lucidly before us. The editing, the matching and linking of scene with scene, has also been done with more than usual care and imagination...' Read full review 


Debussy Nocturnes. Ravel Daphnis et Chloé. Pavane pour une infant défunte. Scriabin Le poème de l’extase

Boston Symphony Orchestra (DG 479 0012) Buy from Amazon

'Anyone who wants to wallow in a warm bath of French impressionism rather than be coolly stimulated will love this record...' Read full review 


Mahler Symphony No 7

Chicago Symphony Orchestra (DG 4163 773-2GH2) Buy from Amazon

'As ever, Abbado is the unpretentious, keen-eared elucidator. So conscientious is he that there are moments in the first movement when it's possible to think the score over-annotated by the composer...' Read full review


Gramophone Opera Award 2012

Beethoven Fidelio

Lucerne Festival Orchestra (Decca) Buy from Amazon

'One of the many glories of this thrillingly articulated Fidelio is the playing of the basses and lower strings, sharp-featured and black as the pit of Acheron...' Read full review


Gramophone Concerto Award 2012

Berg. Beethoven Violin Concertos

Isabelle Faust vn Orchestra Mozart (Harmonia Mundi HMC90 2105) Buy from Amazon

'It’s entirely characteristic of this performance that the sudden orchestral outburst at the end of the Larghetto, heralding the cadenza that leads to the finale, which so often seems inappropriately formal, here comes as a shocking surprise, a rude awakening from an exquisite dream...'  Read full review

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