Friday, May 05, 2006

CD REVIEW: Bartok/Lutoslawski

During my extended period of computer tech problems, I missed this review of the new CSO CD by Mary Ellyn Hutton in the Cincinnati Post (4/20/06):
CSO has heart, technique in music with WWII roots

Paavo Järvi: Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Bartok, Concerto for Orchestra. Lutoslawski, Concerto for Orchestra and Fanfare for Louisville, Telarc, A.

Relish this one. It may be the last of its kind for Paavo Järvi and the CSO.

Since becoming CSO music director in September, 2001, Järvi has led the orchestra in several pairings of familiar and less familiar works, including Sibelius' Symphony No. 2 and Eduard Tubin's Symphony No. 5, Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" and Carl Nielsen's Symphony No. 5 and Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 ("New World") and Bohuslav Martinu's Symphony No. 2.

All feature stylistic, historic or nationalistic parallels that stretch the listener's imagination. This latest release, the ninth by Järvi and the CSO, continues in that vein, with the Concertos for Orchestra by Bartok and Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski. The parallels here are even closer than in some of the others, with matching genres, styles and milieu, both works stemming from the turbulence and dislocation of World War II.

Lutoslawski's 1954 Concerto is the real stunner, virile, virtuosic and vibrant. The CSO players outdo themselves in technical proficiency which, allied with Järvi's interpretive and communicative skills, yields a performance that may well be definitive. Bartok's 1943 score is lovingly crafted, exuding color, strength of gesture and a quality of heart that is Järvi and the CSO's own. Lutoslawski's 90-second Fanfare for Louisville, written after he won the University of Louisville's 1985 Grawemeyer Award for composition, rolls off the brasses' lips like sparks from an anvil.

This is a handsome CD that will rank high among Järvi's CSO output. But don't look for this type of mix to be repeated soon (Järvi's contract expires in 2009). Upcoming CSO Telarc recordings are safely mainstream. Elgar and Britten ("Enigma" Variations and "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra") and an all-Rachmaninoff CD will be released next season. Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5 and "Lieutenant Kije" and an all-Tchaikovsky CD will be recorded in 2006-07.

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