Friday, May 05, 2006

CD REVIEW: Bartok/Lutoslawski

Another review I missed -- this time by Janelle Gelfand at the Cincinnati Enquirer (4/23/06):
Järvi connects with composers

Paavo Järvi, music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, enjoys making musical connections. His latest album, recorded with the orchestra last May in Music Hall, pairs Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra with that by the Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski, written just a decade apart.

It's in stores Tuesday.

Hearing the two concertos side-by-side is a revelation, if for nothing else than to point out that no music is composed in a vacuum. But most of all, both showpieces reveal the stunning artistic achievement the Cincinnati Symphony has made under Järvi. It is a recording that is, by turns, exuberant, arresting and virtuoso.

Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra of 1943 was his last completed masterpiece. Järvi gets inside the music with richly expressive detail, yet he never loses sight of the dramatic sweep of its five movements.

The central movement, an elegy, has a haunting atmosphere that evokes the mystery of Bartok's "night music." In the "Interrupted Intermezzo," Järvi brings out the nostalgia of the beautiful song "Hungary, Gracious and Beautiful."

Composed in the Stalinist years, Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra, moves beyond Bartok's folk music to become a powerful postwar statement. It opens in low strings, set against the pounding of the timpani that soon flows into a delicate counterpoint of winds, harp and violin. The finale is a driving, arresting passacaglia with a serene chorale at its center.

The orchestra gives it a supercharged performance, and Järvi's interpretation is intense, probing and rich with color.

The album also includes a splashy, pull-out-the-stops performance of Lutoslawski's "Fanfare for Louisville," composed in 1985 for the Louisville Orchestra.


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