“… Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta is one of the most beautiful works in 20th century music, and this programme is completed be something of a rarity, the Four Orchestral Pieces from 1912 … This disc could make a good introduction to Bartok’s music for the mind.”
Peter Spaull – Liverpool Post – 19 December 2013
"...a thrilling CD - and an enterprising one, too, in that, though two of the items are well established in the Bartók canon, the third, the Four Orchestral Pieces, is a comparative rarity... At the heart of the disc is a totally convincing performance of one of the very greatest masterpieces of 20th century music: the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta of 1936. As with the Four Orchestral Pieces,the rather dry title belies the stupendous feats of the imagination and intellect that permeate every page of this work. Conductor, players and engineers are as one in delivering a recording that allows every detail of the score to come alive. This is a piece where the conductor really earns his fee. Bartók has scrupulously marked every nuance, every technique, every small fluctuation in tempo, and it is clear that Edward Gardner has taken that to heart. It is not enough to ‘obey’ the strictures of the score; one must then realise the world of expression, thought and emotion that lies beneath. This performance achieves all of that..."
Gwyn Parry-Jones - MusicWeb-International.com - 29 January 2014
"... These are detailed pin-sharp performances from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, with memorably euphonious horn and woodwind solos in the Four Orchestral Pieces." ****
Paul Gent - The Telegraph - 18 January 2014
"... he [Gardner] draws performances that pack a real punch while remaining attentive to significant detail lurking behind the top line: the Mandarin is full of such furtive phenomena... Excellent sound too, with clearly defined string bands in Strings, Percussion and Celesta."
Rob Cowan - Gramophone magazine - January 2014
Performance ***** Recording *****
“… Edward Gardner and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra give first-rate performances of all this music, with a real virtuoso account of the exhilarating Miraculous Mandarin Suite, in particular…”
Misha Donat – BBC Music magazine – January 2014
"The Melbourne orchestra sounds wonderful in these two works ... the third and fourth pieces, in particular, are infused with the grand, beautiful pathos of Bartok’s contemporaneous opera, Bluebeard’s Castle. The Miraculous mandarin ballet suite makes a sizzling beginning. Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta again reveals how much scaring intensity can lie in pure abstraction."
Paul Driver - The Sunday Times (Culture magazine) - 24 November 2013
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