Friday, November 30, 2007

CD REVIEW: Bartok and Lutoslawski

November 30, 2007

Review by Gavin Borchert, eMusic

One of the orchestral world's best-kept secrets displays their best. Ironically, it's partly because of the economic troubles besetting the classical recording industry that the Cincinnati Symphony, one of the orchestral world's best-kept secrets, is gaining greater recognition as the virtuoso ensemble it is: its relationship with Telarc has remained firm while other more prominent orchestras have lost their major-label connections. This disc of two showpieces, a Concerto for Orchestra from 1943 by Bartók and one from 1954 by Witold Lutoslawski, displays their prowess no less in the slow passages (Lutoslawski's serene, slightly eerie "Corale") than in the fast ones (the whirlwind finale of the Bartók or the glistening, unearthly colors of Lutoslawski's "Capriccio" movement). Their virtuosity even extends to raucousness: the "interruption" in Bartók's fourth movement, an un-affectionate parody of Shostakovich's "Leningrad" Symphony, has never sounded ruder. As a bonus, there's Lutoslawski's 1985 "Fanfare for Louisville," a minute and a half of brassy in-your-face-ness.

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