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Bartok: Violin Concertos, Nos. 1 and 2; Viola Concerto
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James Ehnes said of this disc: 'These three concertos are among the most striking examples of Bartok's early, middle, and late periods, each showing a very different side of one of the great musical voices of all time; they are among my very favourite pieces to perform'.
Top Customer Reviews
Ehnes and Gianandrea Noseda present this opening movement of this 3 concerto cd as one long serene and profound meditation on Love and Joy. It is a miracle of evocation seeing as Love and Joy are so fleeting if they ever appear at all. To capture the spirit of these two high human aspirations is astonishing enough, but the musical expression of all the participants is beyond imagination. The BBC Philharmonic plays this movement as if in an underwater trance of beauty and bliss. The woodwind tone colors are muted and melancholy but shot-through with a poignant happiness. Words escape me now.
The rest of this cd of Bartok's two Violin Concerti and the posthumous Viola Concerto is on an very high level of execution and recording.
The engineering is splendidly clear yet soft-edged and intimate. There is no want of spikiness where it is called for, and it often is in Bartok, and the technical challenges of the solo and orchestral parts are met with seeming effortlessness.
I can't recommend this set highly enough, even for those who have never warmed to Bartok's music. It is worth the price of purchase simply to have the first track of the Andante Sostenuto. It is life enhancing and that is not something that can be said very often.
The performing style of Ehnes is generally more lyrical and less bitingly Hungarian gypsy style than is often presented. In this way the concerto becomes more central European and 'civilised' and there will be those that feel the music has been robbed of its essential folk-based earthiness. I feel that this is a valid comment. However, just as it is possible to obtain considerable pleasure of Russian music, such as that by Rachmaninov for example, by other nationalities other than the Russians even without that special Russian emotional rawness, I think that it is also possible to enjoy this disc in the same sort of way. Ehnes certainly delivers immaculate technical mastery and also provides a satisfying 'musical' performance within the limitations as described above.
What you will not get is the sort of Hungarian drive and identification that is immediately apparent in performances by Zehetmair and the Budapest orchestra conducted by Fischer for example. You will also get another example of fine Chandos engineering which aids following and unravelling the Bartok textures as they are so clearly recorded and laid out before our ears.
This then is a very satisfying disc of Hungarian origin but presented more as central violin concerto repertory. There is a place for such a disc and performance and as such I have enjoyed it - but, and it is a but, I do have the other more earthy approaches in my collection and I enjoy Ehnes mostly as an extra to the real thing! However, for those for whom this program and type of approach might make it easier to tackle one of the 20th century's great violin concertos (number 2) this may well be a perfect purchase.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I bought this cd mainly for the Viola Concerto, hoping for a full-bodied and rich viola sound combined with an excellent performance. I certainly got both. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Maecenas
First, let me say, James Ehnes is a superb violinist and does well in a lot of different repertoire, but I hate to say that Bartok isn't the composer for him regardless of what his... Read morePublished on January 10, 2012 by Transfigured Knight