"... A fine, fine, effort, and strongly recommended."
Jerry Dubins - Fanfare - November/December 2012
"Two quintessential Bartók works in fine performances, and at an irresistible price. The Concerto for Orchestra, in particular, is a piece that suits Marin Alsop down to the ground, and one that allows her to put her Baltimore players through their paces ...Alsop responds to all these facets of the piece with both intelligence and vitality, producing a vivid performance." ****
Misha Donat - BBC Music Magazine - June 2012
"...the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra members do really well, from the trepidatious opening of the Concerto for Orchestra to the energetic final chord of the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta. Conductor Marin Alsop certainly knows her way around Béla Bartók, having already recorded fine accounts of The Wooden Prince and The Miraculous Mandarin (mind you with a different orchestra). She certainly seems to capture the dark humour and tragic aspects of this music well ... as far as newcomers are to these powerful works, she is certainly up there with the best, and the full-bodied Naxos sound recording doesn’t hurt one bit."
Jean-Yves Duperron - Classical Music Sentinel - June 2012
Artistic Quality 9 Sound Quality 9
"Marin Alsop leads a splendid performance of this oft-recorded work, full of character, whether in the jocular “games of pairs” second movement, the ensuing spooky elegy, or the finale that begins (seemingly) a touch reserved but takes off like a shot in the coda. It’s a memorable and wholly successful effort, excellently engineered to boot... this is very, very good, and wholly recommendable as a pairing of these two iconic works."
David Hurwitz - ClassicsToday.com - June 2012
"...I thoroughly enjoyed these highly energetic performances and am eager to explore other recordings Marin Alsop has made with this fine orchestra, including her highly acclaimed Dvorák cycle."
Steve Arloff - MusicWeb-international.com - July 2012
"Alsop’s Bartók Concerto for Orchestra is epic in character, as it should be ... Alsop makes a strong case for her way with this work, presenting the music in a fairly straightforward fashion, allowing the colorful Bartók instrumentation and varying moods to carry the listener along... This may well be one of the finest performances of the work on record ... this new CD features superb sound reproduction and splendid playing. Regarding the playing, in both works the Baltimore Symphony musicians turn in first-rate performances..."
Robert Cummings - Classical-Net - August 2012
"If you are seeking full, rich, and warm sounding Bartók, with glorious string tone, look no further than this beautifully played, Westernized performance of the Concerto for Orchestra. What hits you first is that string tone, which is rich, dark, and full-bodied. The interpretation is full-textured and mostly moderate (never really slow) in tempo ... it has a point of view and is not just a sound bath. Right from the opening, which is slow, creepy, and smooth ...everything flows richly, like a broad river, including the well-rounded brass fugue. Listening to II, it was obvious that the Baltimore woodwinds were selected for, among other virtues, their clear warm sounds. Their duets are well balanced and clearly defined, with only the oboes injecting a touch of bite in their articulations…Even the muted trumpets keep things rounded. The brass chorale is gorgeous. The last section is extraordinarily graceful ...The opening to III is beautifully spooky, with excellent work from the winds. The Finale starts slowly, with clear string tone. The trumpet canon, which can be too edgy, is finely delineated and not too aggressive, and the later fugal passages are brilliantly executed. Smooth as everything is, there is plenty of excitement, and one can only admire the strings, who are breathtakingly fleet, nimble, and tight (here and everywhere else). Playing like this makes us forget how difficult these passages really are. The recording is typical of what we have been getting from Baltimore recently—smooth, big, and full, with a lot of bass. If you are looking for a reading of this piece that is even lusher than Karajan’s, this certainly is a prime candidate. Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta is another matter, mainly because it is a thornier and more aggressive piece, and it was recorded differently. The way it develops like a field of wildflowers opening in slow motion—time-lapse photography—is impressive."
Roger Hecht - American Record Guide - September 2012
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