While some may say April is the cruelest month, for concertgoers in Europe, Riccardo Muti bred more than lilacs out of the dead land. In his first return performances since 2009, Riccardo Muti conducted the Berlin Philharmonic in Schubert’s Overture in the Italian Style, Mozart’s Haffner Serenade, and Strauss’ Aus Italien to four sold-out audiences in Berlin and Munich. An additional 4,500 online viewers watched the April 17 performance live-streamed via the Berlin Digital Concert Hall. One of the many enthusiastic reviews included Munich’s Abendzeitung (Evening Paper), with the headline “Riccardo Muti for President!”

Immediately following, Muti continued on to Vienna, where he conducted the Vienna Philharmonic, with which he has given more than 480 performances over 44 consecutive years, in works by Haydn, Schubert, Mozart, Brahms, Verdi, Strauss and Tchaikovsky. In addition to three sold-out concerts in Vienna, Muti conducted the Vienna Philharmonic at the Mariinsky 2 in St. Petersburg, at the Kremlin Palace in Moscow to more than 12,000 people over two nights, and at the Tchaikovsky State House Museum in Klin.

Following are excerpts from reviews of his concerts in Berlin and Vienna. Click on the links to read the full review (in German).

Berliner Morgenpost, April 17, 2015
Majestic elegance, noble flow: with Riccardo Muti, the philharmonic’s unusual aristocratic shine has returned. The strings of the philharmonic are radiant gold, the wind instruments flow like a stream. A sound from distant times conquers the audience ears. A lovingly rounded sound, cultivated and delicately refined. The great Master Muti lets the orchestra smile — a tribute to the past.

Abendzeitung, April 20, 2015
We keep on hearing from the supposed Old Music Specialists that one should play the Vienna Classics with a cold absence of vibrato and pseudo-rhetorical shortness of breath. Many musicians don’t even know any longer how wonderful a modern orchestra can sound in a Mozart symphony.

Kurier, April 25, 2015
As music lovers know, Riccardo Muti and the Vienna Philharmonic are artistically one heart, one soul. There is one simple reason: very few of the Neapolitan maestro’s conducting colleagues understand the specific qualities of this orchestra; Muti, gratefully adopting the “Vienna Sound,” yet brings to all the music his own interpretation.

Der Standard, April 26, 2015
Riccardo Muti, who conducted the subscription concerts in the Musikverein on the weekend, is perhaps the most important interpreter committed to the great romantic symphonic tradition. Unlike others, his conducting is individual and analytical, yet unpretentious, without aplomb and with classical restraint. Muti loves — like the orchestra — the full and rounded sound, phrases modeled as if they themselves sing.