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Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra; Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta / Alsop

Album Summary

>Bartók, Béla : Concerto for Orchestra, Sz. 116, BB 123
>Bartók, Béla : Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, Sz 106
Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Béla Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra, one of his greatest works, was written in the United States after the composer was forced to flee Hungary during World War II. It is not only a brilliant display vehicle for each instrumental section but a work of considerable structural ingenuity that unites classical forms and sonorities with the pungency of folk rhythms and harmonies. Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta explores darker moods through a score of marvelously poised symmetry. This release follows Marin Alsop's 'riveting' (Gramophone) Baltimore Symphony recordings of Dvorák's symphonies. director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. With her inaugural concerts in September 2007, she became the first woman to head a major American orchestra. Her most recent appointment as principal conductor of the Sao Paulo State Symphony Orchestra (OSESP), starting in 2012, marks another historic appointment for her. In 2005, Marin Alsop was named a MacArthur Fellow, the first conductor ever to receive this prestigious award.

"Marin Alsop’s new recording with her Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is a cracker. Alsop’s strength is her honesty, by which I mean something preciseshe plays it straight and never goes for a quick fix.I think it’s a strength that pays lasting dividends. In the Concerto for Orchestra she minimizes display: the atmospherics shimmer without show, the electric rhythms grip without flamboyance and, in the brass fugal passage in the first movement, the BSO strings come pouring in with overwhelming effect. The Game Of Pairs is wit incarnate, and Alsop understates the parody in the Shostakovich quote: she does not caricature it. Recommended." -The Sunday Herald

"Two classics Bartók works are performed with pungency and bite here. Marin Alsop transmits persuasive ideas about pacing, rhythmic emphasis and instrumental colouring, conjuring up also the spectral atmosphere that is so much a part of the Elegia in the Concerto for Orchestra. The orchestra’s definition and intensity are equal assets in a vibrant interpretation of the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta." -The Daily Telegraph

"The music seems to have been conceived with the upfront style of American orchestral playing in mind...[Alsop's] account of the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta...is very impressive, controlled and pungent, albeit without quite the expressionist edge that the music sometimes needs." -The Guardian

American Record Guide, September / October 2012
If you are seeking full, rich, and warm sounding Bartok, with glorious string tone, look no further than this beautifully played, Westernized performance of the Concerto for Orchestra. What hits you first is that string tone, which is rich, dark, and full-bodied. The interpretation is full-textured and mostly moderate (never really slow) in tempo. While it lacks the Hungarian color and spice that Bartok injected into the music, it has a point of view and is not just a sound bath. Right from the opening, which is slow, creepy, and smooth - including the trumpet entrance, which is so smooth that the last note is barely articulated - everything flows richly, like a broad river, including the well-rounded brass fugue.

Fanfare Magazine, November/December 2012
If you don't have Reiner's recording, it has now been remastered in SACD, coupled with the conductor's Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta... You owe it to yourself to acquire it, as it's one of the great recordings of all time. If you do already have it in one form or another, and you'd like a more recent recording to keep it company, Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra make a wonderful shelf mate, which I promise won't just sit there and gather dust. A fine, fine, effort, and strongly recommended.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Meyerhoff Hall, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


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Works Details

>Bartók, Béla : Concerto for Orchestra, Sz. 116, BB 123
  • Conductor: Marin Alsop
  • Ensemble: Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Meyerhoff Hall, Baltimore, Maryland, USA (10/02/2009-10/04/2009)
  • Running Time: 37 min. 20 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 1943-1945

>Bartók, Béla : Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, Sz 106
  • Conductor: Marin Alsop
  • Notes: Meyerhoff Hall, Baltimore, Maryland, USA (2010-06-03&2010-06-04&2010-)
  • Running Time: 28 min. 39 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1936