Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra - Kocsis
Hungaroton HSACD 32187
Classical - Orchestral
Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra, Dance Suite, Hungarian Peasant Songs
Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra
Zoltan Kocsis (conductor)
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Review by Graham Williams - May 31, 2004
This is one of the finest SACDs I have heard.
It was recorded in the Italian Institute in Budapest, a favourite venue with contributors to this site, in September 2002. It may have been recorded in PCM, but nothing in the booklet indicates this, nor, for that matter, DSD.
The recording of the Concerto for Orchestra in MC is a model of clarity, definition and impact. The rear channels are used discreetly, to provide ambience, and never unduly draw attention to themselves. It is, however, the performances that are outstanding.
The Hungarian National Orchestra has real character and a distinctive timbre in each of its sections, unlike many of the more famous orchestras of Europe and the US. Listen, for example, to the plaintive oboe at 4.30 in the first movement and later the pungent and incisive brass stretto from 7.01 in the same movement.
The second movement (Giuoco delle coppie) opens with the most delicious chuckling bassoons you can imagine and the string sections play superbly throughout.
If you know this work well you will be delighted by the astonishing orchestral details that are captured in this recording. Two examples: the soft tam-tam strokes at 3.15 in the Elegia and the cymbals plus tam-tam at the climax of the Intermezzo interrotto. The latter, on most recordings, appear as a mush of sound not two clearly defined percussion instruments.
The finale is fast and exciting, but not rushed. Kocsis gives his players time to articulate the notes and it pays off handsomely.
I have a number of RBCDs of this work including Reiner, Solti, Dorati and Boulez but none is better than this one.
Everything I have written above also applies to the Dance Suite, which sounds truly Hungarian, and the useful filler of the Hungarian Peasant Songs.
Congratulations to the Hungarian Ministry of National Cultural Heritage for sponsoring this wonderful recording.
I hope that Kocsis will now go on to give us the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta and the Miraculous Mandarin.
Copyright © 2004 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net