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Bartok: Concerto for Orch / Viola Concerto Import

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, December 11, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

One of Bartók's most popular symphonic works is his concerto for orchestra; Rafael Kubelik's fabulous recording of it has long been out of the catalogue and is now restored to circulation at budget price. What's more, it's the first recording of the piece made by the orchestra for which it was written. Koussevitzky and the Boston symphony premiered the work in December 1944 and it wasn't until nearly 30 years later, in November 1973, that the orchestra recorded it for the first time - in Boston's symphony hall, with Kubelik conducting. The viola concerto was commissioned by William primrose, who did much to advocate the piece. Sadly, Bartok died before he could complete the work or meet with primrose at a sufficiently advanced stage of the concerto's composition in order to discuss it. Tibor Serly completed the work and primrose premiered it in 1949. This is the first release on CD of the Deutsche Grammophon recording of the piece with Daniel Benyamini, for long leader of the viola section of the Israel philharmonic as soloist, and Daniel Barenboim conducting.

Product Details

  • Performer: Benyamini
  • Orchestra: Boston Sym Orch, Orch de Paris
  • Conductor: Kubelik, Barenboim
  • Composer: Bartok
  • Audio CD (December 11, 2009)
  • Imported ed. edition
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Eloquence Australia
  • ASIN: B002ZIAB40
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #326,271 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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The Bartok Concerto for Orchestra held a special interest for Rafael Kubelik: he recorded it with at least three different orchestras (perhaps some music fans may know of more). This recording is considered by many to be the pick of those three recordings and one of the best recordings of the Bartok CFO ever made. The Editorial Review gives some of the background of the works and this recording, so on to the specifics.

The BSO had the reputation of being the most suave of American orchestras at the time that this recording was made. Charles Munch had instilled that musical sensibility during his tenure as Music Director in the 1950s and early 1960s, and it was continued under the guidance of Erich Leinsdorf. William Steinberg had not been around long enough to affect the orchestra's penchant for supple, silky, somewhat reserved music-making, and Seiji Ozawa was just beginning his long engagement. So although the Concerto for Orchestra had been written for the BSO in 1943 (one of several works commissioned for the founding of the Koussevitzky Foundation; Stravinsky's Ode and William Schuman's Symphony for Strings were also early Foundation commissions), thirty years later the BSO may not have been thought of as an ideal ensemble to project the characterful colorations, jagged intervals, shifting rhythms, and exuberant swirlings of Bartok's soundscape.

Rafael Kubelik stepped onto the podium and showed how irrelevant such generalizations of an orchestra's character can be. He elicited from the BSO not only the éclat and lyricism of the piece, which was expected, but the brooding and weird aspects of the music, which wasn't expected. There is loving attention to detail in this performance, particularly in the woodwinds.
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As other reviewers have pointed out, Rafael Kubelik has made a number of recordings of this work, and I have heard them all. This one, however, is the standout in my opinion. I have yet to hear a better one, conducted by Kubelik or anyone else, for that matter. Highly recommended
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