I’m not particularly fond of Roberto Abbado’s conducting, so this is going to be a mostly negative post and you may want to skip it. I do have something nice to say about Jorge Federico Osorio’s playing, though, in case you want to skip to the last paragraph to read that.
I’ve generally tried to avoid going to concerts where Roberto Abbado was conducting. I first started attending the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s concerts back in 2009 and Abbado seemed to be engaged to guest conduct each year. The programming has pretty much always been works that I enjoy, so I generally showed up excited about his concerts. After a few years, though, I realized that I didn’t like his style. He makes everything sound like Korngold: all schmaltzy and kind of hammy. The only reason that I went to last night’s concert was that I bought three series and, with only four concerts in the fourth this year, there really wasn’t anything that I wanted to exchange this weekend’s ticket to hear. Besides, he may have gotten better or my biases may have changed.
Well, his interpretations were as hammy as ever and my tastes were the same. I didn’t enjoy the concert very much. Abbado’s style was not that horrible for the Rossini, which is a dramatic piece, but it wasn’t that great, either. None of the mystery and intrigue of Schubert’s unfinished symphony came through at all, which is a shame because that is the only of Schubert’s orchestral works that I really get into (though I love much of his chamber music). And Abbado’s take on Beethoven’s piano concerto no. 4 sounded like he was confusing it with Korngold’s incidental music for Robin Hood. Honestly, it didn’t work for me at all.
I can’t help but wonder what I’m missing that makes Evans Mirageas, et al. book Abbado so often; hopefully it’s not just the cachet of his family name. I’d really rather not see him at all unless it was to conduct an all Korngold program. Actually, why hasn’t that been programmed? A program along the lines of his sinfonietta, the violin concerto, and the symphonic serenade would be an awesome show!
Fortunately Jorge Federico Osorio was there to save the day. I wasn’t excited by his take on Beethoven’s 3rd piano concerto a couple of weeks ago, but I thought he did a good job with the 4th. His fingers were light and his playing was solidly in the realm of beauty. While there was nothing exciting about his interpretation, it was a high quality performance and made it worth coming back into the auditorium after intermission.