MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around

  2022
 57,903 reviews
   and more ... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here
Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
 
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

 

paid for
advertisements

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews


TROUBADISC
Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews


FOGHORN Classics

Alexandra-Quartet
Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews


All HDTT reviews


Clarissa Bevilacqua plays
Augusta Read Thomas

all Nimbus reviews

Brahms Dvorak
Brahms 2 Dvorak 7
all tudor reviews

 

 


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

 

Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Loughton
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom

jonathan_woolf@yahoo.co.uk


 


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945)
Concerto for Orchestra, BB 123, Sz.116 [38:00]
Rhapsody for Violin & Orchestra No. 1, BB 94b, Sz. 87 [15:32]
Part 2 of Rhapsody No. 1, Sz. 87, BB 94b: II. (Second Version) [10:21]
Rhapsody for Violin & Orchestra No. 2, BB 96b, Sz. 90 [10:29]
Dance Suite BB 86A [16:21]
James Ehnes (violin)
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra/Edward Gardner
rec. 2016/17, Grieghallen, Bergen, Norway
CHANDOS CHSA5189 SACD [80:28]

I’m a massive fan of Edward Gardner’s Bergen recordings, so I was all set fair to love this one; but in the event I found its main performance a little anodyne. There’s nothing actively wrong with this performance of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, but there isn’t anything particularly special about it either.

The problem isn’t with the orchestral playing, which is as excellent as we’ve come to expect from this stable, and you hear that in the way the first movement emerges from the primordial soup while still finding some energy in the torpor. Furthermore, the fourth movement contains surprisingly lovely string tone to offset the cheekiness of the winds and brass. It works very well, and I wish there’d been more of that interpretative contrast.

Elsewhere it’s all a little antiseptic, a bit too safe. The “Game of Pairs”, for example, lacks the requisite sense of mischief, and the third movement didn’t catch me up in the drama: instead I felt like I was watching it from afar, and not even the energy of the playing could get me swept up in the slightly flat finale. When you compare this with the Hungarians, particularly Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra (or even Solti in Chicago), you see what’s missing: where Fischer shows sparkle and vigour, Gardner plays things rather too safe.

However, I defy anyone to listen to these performances of the Rhapsodies without a smile on their face. Bartók’s fantastically original combination of instruments works beautifully here, his use of the cimbalom giving a spark of colour that gives it something pretty special, all of which is captured beautifully by the Chandos engineers. James Ehnes sounds like he's having a whale of a time, especially in the faster sections, which are a riot, and the whole performance sounds like it’s only a couple of steps away from the café culture from which it originally sprang.

Likewise, the Dance Suite is characterised by an anarchic sense of fun, as though Bartók was playing with all the tools in the musical toy box and loving every effect. The opening has wonderful sense of grotesquerie to it, and Gardner directs the whole thing with energetic thrust which means you never forget this is dance music. His approach pays especially rich dividends in the cut-and-thrust of the third movement, where it helps that the orchestra glitter like quicksilver, and the thrust of the finale is very appealing. However, the contrast of the slower movements also judges the balance well, and sets the seal on a very strong performance.

So this disc is by no means a dead loss, and it’s definitely worth hearing for the Rhapsodies, but I can’t see many people buying it for the Concerto.

Simon Thompson

Previous review: Roy Westbrook



Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews


all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews


All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews

 

Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

November 2022
Bach
Bach Orchestral Suites

del Cinque
Del Cinque Cello sonatas

Fujita Mozart
Mao Fujita Mozart

Stanczyk
Stanczyk Acousmatic Music

Oropesa

October 2022

Berg Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto Elmes

DEbussy Jeux
Debussy Jeux

Romantic pioano masters
Romantic Piano Masters

The future is female - Vol 2
Volume 2 - The Dance

impromptu harp music
Complete Harp Impromptus