Magazine article Gramophone

Bartok * Kodaly: Bartok Concerto for Orchestra

Magazine article Gramophone

Bartok * Kodaly: Bartok Concerto for Orchestra

Article excerpt

Bartok * Kodaly

Bartok Concerto for Orchestra, Sz116

Kodaly Concerto for Orchestra

Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra/Jakub Hrusa

Pentatone (f) [SACD] PTC5186 626 (56' * DDD/DSD)

Here's a pairing rarely made on disc, yet they are natural partners: two Concertos for Orchestra by Hungarian composers, each composed for American orchestras within five years of each other. Bela Bartok was chronically ill when he received a commission from the Koussevitzky Foundation. His cosmopolitan Concerto for Orchestra, premiered by the Boston Symphony in 1944, was a huge success, immediately taken into the repertoire. However, Zoltan Kodaly's was the earlier composition but is rarely heard. It was commissioned for the Chicago Symphony's 50th anniversary and is more modest in scale--a single-movement work in five sections. The outbreak of the Second World War had prevented Kodaly from travelling to Chicago; it was Bartok who took the score with him to the US as he headed into selfexile in 1940. The talented young Czech conductor Jakub Hrusa offers warm, affectionate performances with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Pentatone's booklet note declares that Kodaly's Concerto for Orchestra 'cannot hold a candle to Bartok's eponymous work' but Hrusa does a fine job navigating the dialogue between solo groups and orchestra. Kodaly treated the work almost as a concerto grosso, wanting to 'dress the concerto up in a Baroque costume'. This performance is as loving and playful as Antal Dorati's with his Philharmonia Hungarica on Decca and, although the acoustic is a little beefy, the Berlin strings display great warmth. …

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