Thursday, March 23, 2006

CD REVIEW: Bartók/Lutoslawski

Well! It isn't even available for sale yet, but the reviews are already beginning. Like this great one from Classics Today.com by Victor Carr Jr.:
WITOLD LUTOSLAWSKI
Concerto for Orchestra; Fanfare for Louisville
BELA BARTÓK
Concerto for Orchestra
Paavo Järvi and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Telarc- 60618(SACD)
Reference Recording - Lutoslawski: This one; Bartok: Kubelik (DG); Bernstein (Sony)

ARTISTIC QUALITY 10/SOUND QUALITY 10

The gripping Intrada to Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra, with its pounding timpani and gutsy strings, immediately displays the stunning high-fidelity sound Telarc has achieved on this SACD in both stereo and multi-channel formats. Instrumental groups make their entrances from clearly defined points in the sound picture, thanks to the recording's remarkable clarity and vivid imaging. Of course, all of this counts only if it serves the music, and Paavo Järvi plays Lutoslawski's fascinating score for maximum sonic--and musical--impact.

Järvi encourages his players to go for virtuosity, and they make the most of the opportunities provided by the score's many exposed solo passages
, from the intriguing interplay of orchestral sections in the Capriccio, to the uncanny juxtaposition and interweaving of instrumental layers in the Passacaglia. The brief Fanfare for Orchestra (1985), in the composer's later, aleatoric style explodes in a brilliant flourish of brass, which the Cincinnati musicians tackle with real gusto.

Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra is of course more familiar than Lutoslawski's, long ago having attained warhorse status, but you'd never know it from Järvi's ever-fresh approach. The Introduzione opens with a mystical air reminiscent of Bluebeard's Castle before launching headlong into the movement proper. Again, the Cincinnati musicians make a fine impression in Bartók's frequent concertante passages, while Järvi's conducting exudes engaging energy and imagination. There's scarcely a passage where you can relax into lazy listening as Järvi invests each moment with a sense of anticipation and discovery. Even the finale's (in)famous coda sounds fresh in Järvi's clever phrasing. This is a performance that makes you appreciate Bartók's genius once again, and the disc as a whole is a highly rewarding listening experience. Recommended, absolutely!

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