Exemplary Martinu, interesting Bartok
Kostas A. Lavdas | Boston, MA USA | 02/02/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ondine's recent Philadelphia recordings under Christoph Eschenbach have been, on balance, superb if at times somewhat idiosyncratic. This CD is no exception. Bohuslav Martinu's moving elegy is given here its best reading on disc. The sound colors are just right and the atmosphere more than convincing. I was not familiar with Klein's piece before and I wouldn't have much to say. When it comes to Bartok, however, things get more complicated. The Concerto for Orchestra is, of course, easier to assess in a comparative perspective given the great number of recordings. I've always considered Chicago/Solti and Berliner/Karajan to be my favorite readings, for different reasons each. Eschenbach's approach seems uneven in comparison. It lacks the refinement of Karajan's reading without offering as much original insight as the Chicago/Solti disc. This is somewhat paradoxical if we consider other recent Phil/Eschenbach recordings. In contrast to their Saint Saëns 3rd, for example, which gets a brilliant reading, the Concerto for Orchestra is approached in a restrained manner, bordering occasionally on the understated. There is much that is of interest here, of course. Playing is taut and rich in tone without a hint of roughness, there are some wonderful woodwind passages and - predictably - the Philadelphia strings are just wonderful. Overall, I would strongly recommend this disc to collectors. Still, for those who just want to purchase their first Bartok, I think Chicago/Solti (Decca) might be a better idea.
Great performance - OK recording
Mark Knox | 02/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The performance is outstanding (would one expect any less from the Philly Orchestra?) But, the recording is just a bit on the dark side. Can't put my finger on it, but something about it sounds "muted." Nontheless, I'm glad to have purchased this CD and hoping for more new recordings from one of the best orchestras on the planet."