BARTÓK Béla - Four Pieces for Orch., Concerto for Violin, Music for Strings, Perc. and Celesta
"Michael Gielen's reading of Four Pieces for Orchestra is notably different from those of Pierre Boulez, Leon Botstein, and David Robertson. Whereas they emphasize the beauties of Bartók's orchestration, Gielen probes deeply, uncovering awesome dramatic power. Connections to Bartók's stage works become obvious: The second movement Scherzo could be inserted into The Miraculous Mandarin with nary a hiccup (Four Pieces was written prior to The Mandarin, but orchestrated after it), and the finale, Marcia funebre, an epilogue to Bluebeard's Castle. Suddenly Four Pieces, usually considered a Romantic early effort, becomes pure Bartók.
After which, the 1908 First Violin Concerto seems a treacly mess, youthful indulgence in romantic excess. Not even Gielen can rescue the opening Andante sostenuto. He does make a case for the Allegro giocoso, finding a certain sincerity and dignity in its calmer moments and wallowing in the few explosive outbursts. Christian Ostertag fiddles to perfection throughout.
The SWR orchestra is accurate and clean in the Four Pieces; this radio ensemble sounds larger and fuller then it did in decades past. These three recordings were made over a 14-month period in 2003 and 2004, at the Freiburg Concert House. Hänssler's recorded sound is clean and bright.
This Hänssler Classic disc is indispensable for Four Pieces for Orchestra, realized as never before." James H. North, Fanfare
"The recording ... is outstandingly vivid, the balance most truthfully judged." Andrew Achenbach on classicalsource.com
01 Four Pieces For Orchestra op.12 Preludio (Moderato)
02 Four Pieces For Orchestra op.12 Scherzo (Allegro)
03 Four Pieces For Orchestra op.12 Intermezzo (Moderato)
04 Four Pieces For Orchestra op.12 Marcia funebre (Maestoso)
05 Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No.1 Andante sostenuto
06 Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No.1 Allegro gioscoso
07 Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta Andante tranquillo
08 Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta Allegro
09 Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta Adagio
10 Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta Allegro molto