This concert was dedicated to the memory of Cladio Abbado who had died a few days before on 20 January 2014. A minute’s silence was followed by an addition to the programme, the Adagietto from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. The conductor is Zubin Mehta who had been a close friend of Abbado for over fifty years.
With the Adagietto from Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, the Berliner Philharmoniker pay special tribute to Abbado as a great Mahler interpreter who conducted the orchestra in many unforgettable performances of Mahler’s symphonies.
Claudio Abbado also had a deep understanding of works of the Second Viennese School. The delicate fragility of Anton Webern’s Six Pieces for Orchestra, which Abbado conducted several times during his Berlin years, particularly reflected his ideal of a transparent sound. The Six Pieces were inspired by the death of Webern’s mother; the fourth piece is a stylised funeral march.
In Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto – with Rudolf Buchbinder as the soloist – the mood becomes triumphantly heroic, continuing in this spirit during Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben. Although Abbado’s interpretations were also characterised by emphatic intensity, even in moments of musical self-certainty they never lost their sense of compassion.