[52] Bela Bartok – Concerto for Orchestra / Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta

4 Apr

Unlike the unfocused rambling of his String Quartets, Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra – captured here by Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra – is crisp and engaging, demanding attention.

Concerto for Orchestra / Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta

Concerto for Orchestra / Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta











The score and the musicians change directions many times, painting with all different colors, inspiring one mood after another.  It is surprising how tight this large group sounds compared to the relative muddle of the strings last week.

And it may be the strings that brings out the meandering instinct in Bartok that I do not love.  The opening movement of Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, “Andante Tranquillo”, once again simply refuses to resolve, leaving me constantly hanging for no good reason I can ascertain.

It is frustrating after the assertiveness I enjoyed in the Concerto.

The “Allegro” movement returns to the precise, rapid runs that show off both the melody and musicianship, so I feel the need to listen to the opening movement again, to try and fathom out what it is I am missing, what on earth Bartok is playing at.

But to no avail.

There is an interesting dynamic in Tom Moon’s Classical selections, compared to the Rock, Pop, Jazz, etc.  Most of the later are discrete albums, listening experiences crafted by the artist at one moment in time, designed with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Whereas the Classical choices tend to be collections of compositions, some of them (as here) spanning multiple styles, some multiple decades, and some even multiple composers.  At times this has paid off beautifully (for example the case of the pyrotechnic skill and color of Martha Argerich, or the sweeping arc of Bach’s Concertos), but elsewhere the experience has left me bemused rather than engrossed.

I might have been able to recommend this particular recording if it were just the Concerto, but in muddying the water by including the (to my ear) lesser Music, Moon has overreached.

Which does not bode well for next week’s Bartok / Tchaikovsky mashup . . .

Next Week: Bartok – Concerto No. 3 for Piano and Orchestra / Tchaikovsky – Symphony No. 6

Owned before blogging? No. (2 of 52. 4%)
Heard before blogging? No. (4 of 52. 8%)
Recommend? No. (41 of 52. 79%)

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