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Music for String, Percussion & Celesta

3 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 11, 1995
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Music for strs, perc & celestra: I. Andante tranquillo
  2. Music for strs, perc & celestra: II. Allegro
  3. Music for strs, perc & celestra: III. Adagio
  4. Music for strs, perc & celestra: IV. Allegro molto
  5. Con for string qt & Orch: I. Allegro vivo
  6. Con for string qt & Orch: II. Adagio
  7. Con for string qt & Orch: III. Tempo moderato
  8. Capricio for pn & chm ens: I. Allegro
  9. Capricio for pn & chm ens: II. Adagio
  10. Capricio for pn & chm ens: III. Allegretto
  11. Capricio for pn & chm ens: IV. Andante

Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 11, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Polygram Records
  • ASIN: B00000423H
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,717 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

These are wonderful recordings. It's my favorite rendition of Bartok's masterful Music for Strings, Percussion & Celeste (oddly described by the liner note writer as "abstract" - I would say intensely melodic...). The Clevelanders perform marvelously, and Dohnanyi's conducting leadership is on-target. It's too bad that he has not recorded more of Bartok's works - and this will probably be "it" considering the scope of Boulez's project with the CSO and the general collapse of the orchestral CD market. London/Decca's engineers capture all of the nuances of the piece with outstanding balance and clarity.
I was not familiar with the Martinu piece, so I can only report that it is an eminently listenable and enjoyable composition. The Janacek "Defiance" concerto is an illuminating "surprise" ending to the CD. I would have trouble playing this with two hands - to think that it is a left hand only piece (written for Otakar Hollmann, who lost his right arm in World War I) is mind-boggling. The performance by pianist Joela Jones and members of the CO is outstanding.
This CD is valuable for the Bartok alone - the Martinu and Janecek recordings make it an outstanding 20th century compilation. You may be able to find a copy used or on one of the auction sites. It's definitely worth a listen if you enjoy 20th century orchestral music.
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I'm sorry, but the early 20th century composers who thought that they were more brilliant than the old masters like Beethoven, Mozart et al and strove to improve on them have always left me totally cold! Tell me, what did they think was wrong with the work of Borodin, Saint-Saens, Tchaikovsky, Bach, Brahms and all the other geniuses who preceded them? What made them think that their noise was better than that? Fortunately, composers came to their senses after the middle of the century or so, and got back to composing listenable music,

In my mind, the worst of the "abstract" or "atonal" junk was Bela Bartok. His Music for Strings, Percussion & Orchestra, featured here, is the unchallenged champion of bad music. The author of the liner notes that during this abstract period, "contrasting blocks of sound were a more important a structural principle than thematic and tonal development." I'll say! Bartok's music sounds to me more like BRICKS of sound!

Martinu's work is just as painful to listen to as Bartok's. Again, the liner note author reports that Martinu left his native Czechoslovakia to relocate in Paris, "where he sought to clarify his musical ideas and to free himself from the effects of the Germanic musical training he had received at the Prague Conservatory." God forbid he should be influenced by the likes of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, etc! He and the other Abstracts obviously thought themselves to be above and beyond that claptrap. Martinu's Concerto for String Quartet & Orchestra was allegedly based on the Baroque concerto grosso principle, but any resemblance to that revered body of work is far beyond me. I believe that Handel or Haydn would roll over in their respective graves if they ever heard anyone compare this noise to any of their works.
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