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BARTOK: Wooden Prince (The)

Composer(s):Bartok, Bela
Artist(s) Alsop, Marin, Conductor • Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period(s) 20th Century
Genre Classical Music
Category Ballet
Catalogue 8.570534
Label Naxos
Quality   320kbps

The Wooden Prince is a fairy tale ballet with an original story by Bartók’s literary acquaintance Béla Balázs, who had also written the libretto to Bluebeard’s Castle (available on Naxos 8.660928). Though outwardly sunny in its subject matter, The Wooden Prince has a mystical side that may explain Bartók’s attraction to the story. The ballet’s opening pages have often been compared to the opening of Wagner’s Das Rheingold, and the majestic heart of the score lies in the glorious music Bartók wrote to accompany the prince’s apotheosis.


Review By Malcolm Hayes,Classic FM,May 2008

The Wooden Prince (1917) is an epic orchestral narrative: he himself described it as a ‘symphonic poem for dancing’. The bizarre story concerns a prince who falls in love with a princess in a magic forest and attracts her interest with a dancing puppet version of himself. Bartók’s music blends some very mild modernism with enormous, late-Romantic orchestral firepower—clearly this is a young master-composer at work—and the renowned Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under the skilled hands of Marin Alsop brings an impressively strong response to his demands. The recorded acoustic is a touch over­spacious and boomy—but better that, in a huge score like this, than too tight.

Review By Michael Southern,Pittwater Life,April 2008

Marin Alsop is proving herself to be a catholic conductor, particularly of the European composers, and it is fair to say that she has not yet delivered a bad performance, be it of Orff, Brahms or now Bartok. Under her guidance, the Bournemouth orchestra is emerging as one of the finer British orchestra and this performance is testament to that. It is a full-blooded approach that positively glows.

Review By David Denton, Naxos,March 2008

This is the performance that The Wooden Prince has long needed to take it into the standard concert repertoire. Though composed in the same period as Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, it stylistically belongs to a previous generation, the opening reminiscent of Wagner with the influence of Richard Strauss ever present. The ballet tells the fairy story of a forest that comes to life, and after many trials and tribulations eventually brings two young lovers together. It calls for a large orchestra to create many massive climatic moments, before we come to the final Long Kiss of ecstasy, a moment that could have come from the music of the young Schoenberg. Maybe its neglect was brought about by Bartok who failed to promote his theatre music after the lack



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