Tuesday, April 25, 2006

More on Abbado

I listened to the Abbado Mahler 4th on my Grado SR-225s in a quiet room and I was even more impressed with Abbado's concept of the score. Perhaps a good speaker setup or Sennheiser's top-line headphones would further impress me; however, I refuse to get into a debate over the relative merits of the Grado and Sennheiser sounds.

His new Mahler cycle has been called "Mahler-lite" in several places, generally following Hurwitz, and I understand that. However, the clearer and somewhat less emotional sound really allows Mahler's score to shine. Pierre Boulez, whose Mahler I still adore, is the master of total realization of the score, but I am not entirely sure that Abbado isn't far behind.

At the great climax toward the end of the 3rd movement (Ruhevoll), some recordings tend to get a little crowded. That's OK, but Abbado (and Boulez) keep things clear. The jarring wall of sound is cleanly composed of bricks.

I have not been entirely happy with the new Abbado series. His Lucerne Festival 2nd was disappointing to me. It seemed to be merely, as others have noted, a one-off record for Festival-goers. However, compared to his earlier Deutsche Grammophon cycle, this is successful.


At 7:10 PM, Blogger jfl said...

A refurbished HD580 gets you VERY close to the Sennheiser 600/650 sound (moreso than the excellent, livelier 595) - and assuming you don't mind getting a HeadAmp of some sort (or better: have one), it's a wonderful thing to experience.

At 11:28 AM, Blogger Patrick J. Smith said...

I have heard much about the benefits of an amped Sennheiser for classical, but I am partial to the Grado sound, which is good for some classical but too forward for other stuff. Hearing Fournier's breathing throughout his Bach Cello Suites is interesting, but - in some ways - a distraction.


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