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Sir Georg Solti is particularly authoritative when dealing with the music of Bela Bartok. This 2.CD set is an extremely attractive collection of some of Bartok's major orchestral masterpieces. Played by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the renditions here are consistently fresh, engaging and adheres diligently to Bartok's directions within the scores. Full marks must also be given to Decca, who have made sure all recording levels blend perfectly together. Recorded at Orchestra Hall, Chicago from January 1980 to November 1993; Decca's digital sound-reproductions are typically bright yet well balanced spatially. A must-have for Bartok fans!
This double CD contains all of Bela Bartok's Orchestral masterpieces played by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Georg Solti. This includes the Concerto for Orchestra,Music for Strings,percussion and Celesta,the Miraculous Mandarin [in suite form only,without the choir and the original ending],the Divertimento,Hungarian Sketches, Romanian Folk Dances and the Dance Suite. They are extremely well played and interpreted.I often find Solti's recordings on the fierce side,but here that suits Bartok's music fine. I am not a big fan of Bartok's chamber music,the string quartets etc,but his orchestral music is essential listening for an appreciation of 20th Century music.It is no tougher than Stravinsky's for example,or Shostakovich's music. In addition to these major works,I can recommend Bartok's three concertos for piano,his two violin concertos and his ballet the Wooden Prince. This is a very good place to start a collection of Bartok's orchestral music.It will lead you to wanting more!
Bela Bartok will never ever be classed as easy listening. At first I wondered what on earth I had purchased, bit with a little persistence I started to ‘get’ what the Hungarian was trying to achieve. I have other CDs performed by Solti’s Chicago Symphony and like those, the outcome has always been an energetic and passionate interpretation. The only other Bartok I own is the Concerto for Orchestra, conducted by Charles Dutoit’s Montréal Symphony Orchestra, also on the Decca label, but that now costs the best part of £20 for a single disc. Although I prefer that recording, for someone wishing to explore Bartok for the first time, then this double CD is good value. My advice would be to stick with it!
Bartok stunningly executed with the best (in my opinion) interpreter of his work. A delight to listen to. Phenomenal, imaginative orchestration, dynamic rhythms & East European V American themes all brought out with sensitivity & compassion. Thoroughly recommend this recording
I came to these pieces from the string quartets expecting music of similar difficulty, but it would seem that Bartok reserved the quartet as his most experimental medium. All of these pieces are filled with beauty, colour and excitement.
Nothing on the first disc is difficult music. Though there are some atonal harmonies and some non-standard time signatures, these are rooted in tonality and the rhythms of folk dance. All the pieces on the first disc include clashes of dark and light, but all conclude with an overwhelmingly positive character. The Concerto for Orchestra is the most large scale work and includes several memorable moments, one of my favourites of which is the glorious brass section in the second movement. The remaining pieces on disk one are filled with East European folk idioms that are predominantly gay and flamboyant.
The second disc includes the pieces that might be thought a little more difficult to the Classical ear. The Concerto for Strings, Percussion and Celeste has a very mysterious flavour with some dazzling twelve-tone harmony, but with such rhythmic excitement as to carry it out of the realms of difficulty. Though relatively brief, the following Divertimenti for Strings continue the twelve-tone polyphony with great power and gusto. The final piece, The Suite from the Miraculous Mandarin, is truly strange, as is its theme, basically a sequence of chase scenes, filled with macabre and sinister humour.
These discs are fantastic value at the price. Although I can imagine more spacious recordings of these pieces, I cannot imagine them more tonally balanced - each instrument glows. Neither can I imagine them more beautifully played or perfectly paced. Clearly this is Solti's home ground.