Astounding performances and rich in its selections
Pork Chop | Lisbon, Portugal | 04/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There is no doubt that from start to finish, on both CD's
(there are 2) every performance is extremely strong
and the audio is incredible.
The weak spot, of this release, however, is the lack
of continuity between the numbers, considering that
some of them are very differnet from each other,
such as from one composition to the next, there is
a noticeable change in mood, and musical point of view,
which distracts from the enjoyment experience.
As such, my pick on this set is unquestionable the
"Miraculous Mandarin" which is incredible in the skill
shown by the musicians and by the man leading the group
in playing and showing a cohesive musical message.
The loudness of "Miraculous Mandarin" slams the listener
like a hurricane that's never been felt before....which
is an experience that most music fans will have difficulty
achieving anywhere else.
The other pieces, on their own, are simply perfect and
gems that only the composer's, the genius Bela Bartok,
could have crafted."
Patrick W. Crabtree | Lucasville, OH USA | 03/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If I wanted to represent Bartok in my classical CD collection with multiple popular works, this would be my CD of choice. A two-CD set, these well-known Bartok compositions are perfectly rendered. Add to that fact that the engineering/sound is just great and there you have it.
I'll let you do your own researching about the composer and his respective works but I will say that there's not a bad cut on either CD of this set. There is a mixing of three different orchestras and conductors on this recording but they all mesh right in, all superb.
What more can I say? It's an awesome set -- buy it!"
Bartok--Young and Old
Micromegas | Ada, OK | 03/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This disc brilliantly contrasts the mature, maverick Bartok with the younger, more traditional (but no less inspired) composer. Surprisingly, the earlier works hold up quite well, and still bear Bartok's distinct stamp and color--which is certainly not the case for many great composers (Stravinsky's early symphony, for example). Dorati is among the greatest interpreters of Bartok's music, and his version of the Mandarin is astounding, as expected. Full of fire, atmosphere, and passages of eerie beauty. His Music for Percussion and Strings is also amazing, though I actually prefer his version on Mercury with the London SO (coupled with his rare ballet, The Wooden Prince--better sound, too). But this is a small quibble, and the performance is spirited and inspired.
But I feel I really have to pitch the two largely unknown early works, the Rhapsody for Piano & Orch., Op.1 and the Suite No.1 for Orchestra, Op.3. The Rhapsody is a pungent, virtuostic piece, somewhat similar to Strauss' early Burleske, though with a more Hungarian lilt to it. It also complements his Violin Rhapsodies, though this piece is more squarely in the tradition of Liszt, Dohnanyi, and Kodaly. Why this is not more performed I will never know--it would be a sure crowd pleaser (particularly for those who are unfamiliar and unenthusiastic about his idiom).
However, my favorite piece of all is the remarkably inventive Suite, which overflows with Romantic Nationalism in a vein that skirts Dvorak and the Russians, though sounds nothing at all like them. The first movement opens up with a Straussian march, heroic, even a bit pompous, though orchestrated with glitter and fireworks. The second movement is all grim, Hungarian atmosphere, and indeed, the ominous drumbeat with muffled trumpets is quoted in the Concerto for Orchestra so many years later (or so I believe, maybe he didn't mean it?). Indeed, this piece is itself a kind of Concerto for Orchestra, as the orchestra is kept very busy embellishing his folk-like melodies. A dashing scherzo follows, and then a haunting slow movement which again sounds very nationalistic, a kind of piece Bartok would never write again. Even less Bartokian is the festive finale, which sounds a lot like Smetana--though it's completely captivating in its own, derivative way. In short, the Suite is a work of genius, if a slightly immature one; but that doesn't stop me from listening to it over and over again. Sadly, I don't have a recording of his Second Orchestral Suite...is there a Dorati version floating around somewhere?
The disc concludes with the most haunting, atmospheric, intense account of the oft-recorded Two Pictures, Op.10 I have ever heard. The sheer longing of the opening melody is almost unbearable. I also love how Dorati brings out the Debussyian sheen of the orchestra in this piece. We hear Bartok's distinct voice for the first time in the second "picture," which smacks of the sardonic humor of the Mandarin.
A wonderful, bargain of a disc that should not be missed, no matter how many Mandarins you have in your collection."