Claudio Abbado's ad hoc group of old friends and students -- studded with famous soloists, members of leading chamber groups and principals with top orchestras -- may be the most virtuosic orchestra ever assembled.... No previous recorded performance has cleansed this "Resurrection" symphony of stale rhetoric and enabled it to sound truly spiritual.... The introductory bonus is perhaps the most luminous Debussy La mer on disc. [A]
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You have to listen to this disc. It justifies the whole invention of recording sound. Claudio Abbado -- a man of 70 who had just recovered from a life-threatening illness -- leads the Lucerne Festival Orchestra -- an orchestra made of up some of the best musicians in Europe -- in two of the greatest orchestral works of the fin de siècle -- Debussy's exciting, exhilarating, and ecstatic "La Mer" and Mahler's massive, monumental, and monomaniacal "Resurrection Symphony" -- in the cleanest, clearest, recordings ever made. Claudio Abbado had made magnificent recordings of both "La Mer" and the "Resurrection" before, but his performances here are more than magnificent: they are truly and profoundly transcendent. The Lucerne Festival Orchestra has never recorded anything before because it is an ad hoc band including the leader of the Berlin Philharmonic, all the members of Sabine Meyer's Wind Ensemble, all the members but one of the Hagen Quartett, and all the members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. But in these performances, the musicians play as if they were the world's greatest orchestra with both complete and perfect ensemble and complete and total individuality. Recorded in the crystalline acoustics of the Kultur- und Kongresszentrum on the shores of beautiful Lake Lucerne, Abbado and the Orchestra's performances are ideally reproduced in sound of staggering impact and stunning immediacy. After the last note of the "Resurrection" has faded into eternity, it is as if you are sitting in the tenth row center with an especially enthusiastic overweight Austrian standing next to you and applauding with delirious ecstasy. One of the greatest recordings ever made in the history of sound recording.