Review By Carlhåkan Larsén,Sydsvenskan.se,November 2012
Review By Jerry Dubins ,Fanfare,November 2012
If the ability of a performance to raise the hair on your arms and the nape of your neck is one measure of its success, Alsop’s with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra succeeds brilliantly. But the rhythmic precision and motor drive achieved in the work’s two Allegro movements are also thrilling. This is a great Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta, no doubt about it.
Review By Patrick Szersnovicz,Diapason,
Review By Roger Hecht,American Record Guide,September 2012
If you are seeking full, rich, and warm sounding Bartók, 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…it has a point of view and is not just a sound bath. Right from the opening, which is slow, creepy, and smooth…everything flows richly, like a broad river, including the well-rounded brass fugue.
Review By Robert Cummings,Classical Net,August 2012
Alsop’s Bartók Concerto for Orchestra is epic in character, as it should be…Alsop makes a strong case for her way with this work, presenting the music in a fairly straightforward fashion, allowing the colorful Bartók instrumentation and varying moods to carry the listener along.
The first movement is mysterious and folkish, while the second is humorous but with a solemn middle section. The third movement is very dark, but followed by a brief light intermezzo that also parodies the Shostakovich Seventh, an enormously popular symphony during the war which Bartók very much disliked. The finale is epic and triumphant. All of these qualities emerge strongly in Alsop’s well played and well recorded effort here…
Review By Steve Arloff ,MusicWeb International,July 2012
I’ve said before that at one time the very name of Bartók would have caused me to believe I wouldn’t like the music in the same way that some people believe that there are certain foodstuffs that they won’t like though they’ve never tried them. If there are any people who feel that way then the Concerto for Orchestra is without a doubt the best way to conquer that feeling. It is the most wonderfully musical piece with exciting melodies, especially the folk-inspired third movement in which Bartók exploits his unique facility with using folk tunes which he introduced into so many of his works. If there are people who also believe that he was not a composer that could ‘let his hair down’ then the fourth movement should dispel
Once again with Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta we have another example of Bartók as a mould breaker—surely not even Vivaldi who wrote music for just about every conceivable instrument could have come up with that combination…Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta is a marvellously atmospheric work with a whole gallery of interesting instruments being marshalled with percussion comprising side drum, snare drum, cymbals, tam-tam, bass drum, timpani and xylophone with the celesta, harp and piano ranged in the middle of two sets of strings. Within the four movements of roughly equal lengths there is wonderful writing that fully exploits the individual characteristics of the various sections used and the whole work is a thrilling and exhilarating listen. Once again this orchestra throws itself wholeheartedly into the performance giving full vent to the possibilities the composition allows for. I can imagine that it is extremely taxing for everyone concerned, especially the conductor who must be quite exhausted by its close as there is no let-up from start to finish.
I thoroughly enjoyed these highly energetic performances and am eager to explore other recordings Marin Alsop has made with this fine orchestra, including her highly acclaimed Dvořák cycle. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review
Review By Phil Muse,Audio Video Club of Atlanta,July 2012
What impresses you immediately about the Concerto for Orchestra is its imaginative orchestration and its great emotional range. The most memorable moment in the entire work, at least for yours truly, is the bucolic interlude that occurs, like a glorious sunset, clouds suffused with a golden glow, just before the strife and conflicting moods in the Interezzo. And the whirling perpetual-motion finale has lots of fireworks in this performance. Throughout, not just in the Giuoco movement, the music and Alsop’s solid interpretation draw strong soloistic and virtuosic responses from each family of the Baltimore SO…
Review By Christophe Huss,ClassicsTodayFrance.com,July 2012
Ce CD fait très clairement partie des meilleurs accomplissements discographiques de Marin Alsop.
Il apparait toutefois comme un “CD Naxos recommandable” plutôt que comme une version marquante de la discographie qui, depuis 50 ans (Fricsay, Dorati et Reiner pour les deux; Solti et Leinsdorf pour le Concerto; Mravinski pour la Musique), engrange les réussites majeures—Ivan Fischer l’emportant parmi les versions de l’ère numérique.
Review By John Miller,Classical Candor,June 2012
The disc begins with probably the most celebrated music of Hungarian Bela Bartok…the Concerto for Orchestra…The second-movement Allegretto moves along at a graceful, if fairly leisurely, pace. It lightens the mood considerably. In the third-movement Bartok turns to dark yet lyrical material…Alsop handles it in a kind of wispy, dreamlike way, building in mysterious, almost spooky intensity as it goes along…
Next, we find a brief Intermezzo borrowing…Shostakovich that sets up the dance rhythms of the Finale: Presto, where Bartok went all out to show the vibrancy of life. Alsop treats it gently, yet with much joy. It’s a worthy realization of the score.
Review By Infodad.com,June 2012
…a very worthy recording…The very start of Concerto for Orchestra is particularly impressive here, building highly effectively from the depths of the orchestra to a main section…certainly well-played. Indeed, the orchestra’s playing is a major plus of this disc: the ensemble is sure in sound, very well balanced and as virtuosic as the music needs it to be. Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta is also very well played, paced rather slowly, ebbing and flowing through its sequence of mostly darker moods in a well-balanced reading that…has lovely flow in the slower ones. © 2012 Infodad.com Read complete review
Review By David Hurwitz,ClassicsToday.com,June 2012
Marin Alsop leads a splendid performance of this oft-recorded work, full of character, whether in the jocular “games of pairs” second movement, the ensuing spooky elegy, or the finale that begins (seemingly) a touch reserved but takes off like a shot in the coda. It’s a memorable and wholly successful effort, excellently engineered to boot.
…this is very, very good, and wholly recommendable as a pairing of these two iconic works. © 2012 ClassicsToday.com Read complete review
Review By Misha Donat,BBC Music Magazine,June 2012
Two quintessential Bartók works in fine performances, and at an irresistible price. The Concerto for Orchestra, in particular, is a piece that suits Marin Alsop down to the ground, and one that allows her to put her Baltimore players through their paces…Alsop responds to all these facets of the piece with both intelligence and vitality, producing a vivid performance. © 2012 BBC Music Magazine
Review By Brian Wilson Download Roundup,MusicWeb International,June 2012
I’m beginning to think that Marin Alsop is infallible. This was a strong contender for the Download of the Month slot—as fine a performance of these two works as any that I’ve heard, including both Solti versions (Decca), Reiner (Sony from RCA) and Iván Fischer (Philips) © 2012 MusicWeb International Continue reading
Review By Jean-Yves Duperron,Classical Music Sentinel,June 2012
…the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra members do really well, from the trepidatious opening of the Concerto for Orchestra to the energetic final chord of the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta.
Review By new-classics.co.uk,May 2012
Bartok called the piece a concerto rather than a symphony because of the way each section section of instruments is invited to reveal its virtousic skills. Each instrumental section is brilliantly displayed in a work of considerable structural ingenuity that unites classical forms and sonirities with the pungency of folk rhythms and harmonies. Also included here is Bartok’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, which explore darker moods through a score of marvellously poised symmetry. The acclaimed Martin Alsop…conducts the impressive Baltimore Symphony Orchestra… © 2012 new-classics.co.uk
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