Schumann: Symphony No 2 in C major, Op 61; Manfred, Op 115 (Overture); Genoveva, Op 81 (Overture)

Reviewed on Wed 16 Oct, 2013

Vienna's Musikverein was the venue for this concert performance of Schumann's glorious Second Symphony from Claudio Abbado and his hand-picked Orchestra Mozart. Amazingly, it's the 80-year-old maestro's first commercial recording of any Schumann symphony. So was it worth the wait? Oh yes, most certainly! Abbado secures some consistently stylish and responsive playing, his subtly moulded yet delectably unforced reading evincing a songful glow, humanity and wisdom that betoken a lifetime's experience on the rostrum. Other conductors – Szell, Kubelík, Solti and Sawallisch – may extract greater heartache from the towering slow movement, but there's enormous pleasure to be had from an interpretation which yields fresh insights with each new hearing. Both overtures come off very well, too: if Szell and his dazzling Clevelanders remain the touchstone in Manfred, there's little to fault in Abbado's marvellously invigorating and affectionate handling of Genoveva. Cherishable music-making, this, expertly captured by the DG recording team, and strongly recommended.
–Andrew Achenbach