Works of Bela Bartok

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What is your favorite Bartok?

String Quartets
4
20%
Ballets/opera
1
5%
Solo piano
2
10%
Concerto for Orchestra
6
30%
Music for strings, percussion and celesta
2
10%
Sonata for two pianos and percussion
1
5%
Other
4
20%
 
Total votes: 20

johnshade
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Works of Bela Bartok

Post by johnshade » Wed Aug 30, 2006 12:27 pm

Favorite Bartok...

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Post by jbuck919 » Wed Aug 30, 2006 12:51 pm

Well, I would only not vote in the poll because there are too many multiple possibilites. I think that in general his chamber works and his concertos are his greatest works. There are works for small orchestral forces that are just as fine.

I will add that the Concerto for Orchestra was one of those works that formed my musical interest in my childhood. I didn't know then that it was a compromise work written to make money when Bartok was being treated in the shabbiest fashion after his emigration to the US. I can't call it his greatest work, but I also will never demean it.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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DavidRoss
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Post by DavidRoss » Wed Aug 30, 2006 1:41 pm

Excerpted from http://www.classicalnotes.net/classics/bartok.html:
By the time he wrote his Concerto for Orchestra Bartók was in bad shape physically, emotionally and professionally. Distressed over his beloved country's capitulation to the Nazis, he had emigrated to New York in 1940, leaving behind the royalties and colleagues who had provided his financial and professional support. (He sent his original manuscripts to Switzerland for safe-keeping.) His activity as a scholar, performer and composer seemed over - a brief stint arranging archival folk recordings at Columbia University ended without hope for extension, his few recitals had met with critical hostility and public indifference and he had written no new music for four years. Indeed, his Mikrokosmos, an eclectic collection of 153 piano pieces completed in 1939, seemed to summarize all he had experienced and suggested a swan-song. Always of tenuous health, he had been hospitalized, weighing a mere 87 pounds. Although destitute, he was intensely private and wary of even a hint of charity. He considered himself an exile in an alien land and ached to return home.

It was at this nadir of his life that two compatriots, violinist Josef Szigeti and conductor Fritz Reiner, seized upon the ideal vehicle for Bartók's recovery - arranging a commission for a major work for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. When its conductor Serge Koussevitzky arrived at the hospital with a substantial down payment, the effect was astounding. Bartók immediately rallied, left for an ASCAP retreat in upstate New York and within seven weeks finished the piece. (He orchestrated it that winter in Asheville, North Carolina.)

When given its world premiere by the Boston Symphony on December 1, 1944, the Concerto For Orchestra was an immediate critical and audience success. It drew attention to the neglected composer and his other work. More commissions arrived. New projects were started. But Bartók's health again failed and he died the next September, leaving the Concerto for Orchestra as his testament.
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premont
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Post by premont » Wed Aug 30, 2006 4:57 pm

Playing For Children as a child "tuned" me for his pianomusic, and this - in the widest sense - has for me ever since been the most interesting of this composers works. Not surprisingly I find, that quite a lot of composers pianomusic constitutes the most important part of their production (Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Grieg, Bartok, Prokofieff among others), as they actually were composing pianists.

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Post by paulb » Wed Aug 30, 2006 6:03 pm

Amazing composer. I have quite a collection. But afriad no time to post them all.
The onlt major works from Bartok that I've never come around to are his Sonata for 2 Pianos and percussion, , good but not great, hus Rhapsody For Piano and Orch, and the 3rd piano concerto.
The 3rd pc is an outstanding work, superb and truly great, but nothing that draws me in, sorry.
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

premont
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Post by premont » Wed Aug 30, 2006 7:14 pm

paulb wrote:
The 3rd pc is an outstanding work, superb and truly great, but nothing that draws me in, sorry.
But the good thing is, that you are able to acknowledge quality, even if it isn´t to your taste.

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Wed Aug 30, 2006 7:30 pm

The piano concertos and Bluebeard's Castle get most airtime at my place.

paulb
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Post by paulb » Wed Aug 30, 2006 7:47 pm

premont wrote:
paulb wrote:
The 3rd pc is an outstanding work, superb and truly great, but nothing that draws me in, sorry.
But the good thing is, that you are able to acknowledge quality, even if it isn´t to your taste.
FINALLY I made the correct comment :o
Thank you Premont for seeing my point of view. :)

VC1/Suk/Pesek/Czech
VC2/Shizuka Ishikawa/Kosler/Czech
VC1/Oistrakh/Rozh/Moscow Radio
Sonata for V+P SZ75/Oistrakh/Frida/Bauer
Sonata for V+P SZ75/Oistrakh/Richter

Just a few of my many fine Bela Bartok collection.
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

paulb
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Post by paulb » Wed Aug 30, 2006 8:00 pm

Brendan wrote:The piano concertos and Bluebeard's Castle get most airtime at my place.
I have both historic recordings of Bluebeard :Mihaly Szekely/Klara Palankay from 1951 and 1956 , but honestly its not one of fav from Bartok.

I feel 2 of the many hidden gems in Bartok are 4 Orchestral Pieces and more so Cantana Profana/Chorus, tenor, bass, orchestra. Boulez/Chicago/DG with John Aler tenor and John Tomlinson bass.
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

paulb
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Post by paulb » Wed Aug 30, 2006 9:55 pm

Just finsihing up on my Walkman is Bluebeard's Castle/Klara Palansky born Budapest 1921/Mikhaly Szekely born Jaszbereny 1901/conducting Georges Sebastian conducting the Budapest(Hungarian) radio SO/Feb 22, 1951. Quite a performance and have since changed my opinion of the work. Its certianly has power and depths I somehow was not made aware of on previous listens.
Georges Sebastian had become friends with Szigeti, and Friz Reiner suggested he go for conducting instead of composition. He beacme friends with bruno Walter in 1921 at the Munich Opera. Bartok and Walter had great influences upon the young Sebastian. Working closly with walter throughout the US and europe, when in the late 30's at the first signs of nazism, he headed for russia, where he met the greats Nikolai Golovanov and Prokofiev's favorite conductor, Samuel Samosud.
Listening to thsi 1951 recording which is live , one feels in touch with a level of conducting that was prevelant in the mid part of this century, legends in their own time.

I had the 1956 (OOP)recording with Fresnick leading Szekely and Palansky, but found the 1951(OOP?) much better.

......
I'm just discovering the bonus tracks on this Arlecchino release, Mihaly Szekely sings 7 Hungarian folk songs with Toki Horvat and his Hungarian Puzsta Banda, recorded 1950.
Really nice folk tunes.
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Wed Aug 30, 2006 10:11 pm

paulb wrote:
Brendan wrote:The piano concertos and Bluebeard's Castle get most airtime at my place.
I have both historic recordings of Bluebeard :Mihaly Szekely/Klara Palankay from 1951 and 1956 , but honestly its not one of fav from Bartok.
Wasn't with me either until I heard the Fricsay recording in German (packaged with the Cantata profana). Now I love it, if only every now and then, as with most Bartok with me. Not to everyone's taste, but how boring would that be?

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Post by paulb » Wed Aug 30, 2006 10:25 pm

Brendan wrote:
paulb wrote:
Brendan wrote:The piano concertos and Bluebeard's Castle get most airtime at my place.
I have both historic recordings of Bluebeard :Mihaly Szekely/Klara Palankay from 1951 and 1956 , but honestly its not one of fav from Bartok.
Wasn't with me either until I heard the Fricsay recording in German (packaged with the Cantata profana). Now I love it, if only every now and then, as with most Bartok with me. Not to everyone's taste, but how boring would that be?
I doubt if i would like the Fricsay, as he's not one of my favorite conductors.

Here is the link to the Sebastian recording, and the amazon reviewer offers an excellent insight to this legendary "definitive" recording.

http://www.amazon.com/Great-Forgotten/d ... 69?ie=UTF8
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

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Post by paulb » Wed Aug 30, 2006 10:37 pm

Just looked at the fricsay. Not only am i not fond of fricsay's condcuting, but never been a fan of Nilsson, so would not work for me.
Dorati's 1962 with the London/Mercury catches the great Mihaly Szekely very late in his career.
My reseaach shows the 1956 recording is back in print. It is not on the level as the 1951.
The only way this score works for me is the quality of the 1951 performance. Its outstanding from all artists and thus exudes magic.

EDIT:Which fricsay are you refering to?

btw have you heard Boulez's DG recording in the Cantana Profana?
I think its the finest recorded.
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Wed Aug 30, 2006 11:02 pm

Very different taste then. I collect everything of Fricsay I can find. Each to their own.

val
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Post by val » Thu Aug 31, 2006 6:31 am

There are so many Bartok works I love ...

Just to mention a few: the ballet The Miraculous Mandarin, the Cantata Profana, the opera the Bluebeard Castle, the piano concertos (in special the first), the extraordinary 2nd violin concerto, the Music for strings, percussion and celesta, the Concerto for orchestra, the Quartets 4 and 5, the Sonata for solo violin, the Sonata for two pianos and percussion, and several works for the piano, like the Sonata, the Suite opus 14, En Plein Air.

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Post by Wallingford » Thu Aug 31, 2006 8:57 pm

It was ORMANDY who finally made me warm to Bluebeard's Castle (early stereo era, circa '63). Hard to track down, too--never put out on CD (to my recollection), I picked up a mono LP nearly a year ago, would love to get the stereo edition.

The late Heinrich Hollreiser, who passed away only recently (check one or two pages back), did a fine Cantata Profana for Vox in the mid-50s, mono only.
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johnshade
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Post by johnshade » Fri Sep 01, 2006 7:34 am

Thanks to all of you who have responded to this thread. Bartok is one of my favorite composers. I have loved his music since the 1950s. I started with the great Reiner recording of MSPC and Concerto for Orchestra. My other favorites are the Sonata for two pianos and percussion and the string quartets. I should have listed as options the piano concertos and Bluebeard's Castle.

JS

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Post by karlhenning » Fri Sep 01, 2006 7:45 am

There is scarcely any work of Bartók's which I have not enjoyed hearing and studying.

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Wallingford
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Post by Wallingford » Fri Sep 01, 2006 4:27 pm

To my mind, more than any other composer, Bartok was the great MUSICAL SPIRIT of the 20th Century. He personified the century's musical identity: pulsating, inventive, earthy RHYTHM.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
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Post by paulb » Fri Sep 01, 2006 5:46 pm

Wallingford wrote:To my mind, more than any other composer, Bartok was the great MUSICAL SPIRIT of the 20th Century. He personified the century's musical identity: pulsating, inventive, earthy RHYTHM.
After doing a survey of his works the past few days, comparing recordings and such, I'll take your description of Bartok as very close to how I hear him. "The great musical spirit" , even more so than Shostakovich, Prokofiev and any other. Yes i agree.
but you know listening to Music For strings Percussion, I'm not as impressed with this work as before. I really do not feel its Bartok as his best. So this Music for Piano Strings/Percussion along with his 3rd piano concerto I have to place at the very bottom of all his masterpieces.
Also at the bottom is his sonata for 2 pianos and percussion.
More later.........
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

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Post by paulb » Fri Sep 01, 2006 8:38 pm

Yeah I just listened to Music for Strings Percussion. It certainly has its moments, but does not sound to me as Bartok at his best. I love Bartok when he is most inspired by his folk spirit. MFSP just seems to have some repetitive phrasing. Masterpiece that it is, still ranks near the bottom of my fav Bartok. Certainly above his 3trd pc.
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

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Post by RebLem » Fri Sep 01, 2006 9:12 pm

I love Bartok. I answered ballets and operas as my faves. Bluebeard's Castle is magnificent & there are a number of fine recordings; to me, the Kertesz has pride of place. I also like the Miraculous Mandarin, the Wooden Prince, and lots of other things. For some reason--and I know this will mark me as a knave for all time--the string quartets mainly leave me cold. Intellectually, I understand that they are supposed to be the greatest body of 20th century string quartets, but personally, I get a lot more out of Shostakovich. I do also love the Cantata profana, the PC 1 and the VC 2.

I've never particularly warmed to the Concerto for Orch of the Music for SPC.
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Post by paulb » Fri Sep 01, 2006 9:59 pm

CFO is a fine work in the right hands. I've heard the famous Reiner, who seems to rank as everyone's favorite. To me its a bit on the analytical side/cold. . Sotli's did not work for me either. Boulez/New York is good, but not near as polished and well done as the Boulez/Chicage. Completely forget Chailly/Concertgebouw and Haitink /Concertgebouw.
The 2 I've found that gets at the soul of the great work are Boulez/Chicage and the Ivan Fischer/Budapest Festival. Another one worthy of interest is Skrowaczewski/Minnesota, but honestly I'm losing some interest in that VOX double in Bartok. I'll have to revisit that set this weekend, will post my comments.
In the worng hands its not easy to "warm" to the CFO.

On the sq's, again there are so few recordings that get these works with the delicacy they deserve. That said they are a bit "thorny". I'll have to revisit those this weekend as well, its been awhile. I had the Tokyo/DG set , twice in fact, in order to double ck my comments compared to the outstanding Tokyo/RCA group. The DG group was way to cold and chisled for my taste. Not even worth keeping as a "second set". I should mention the New Budapest on Hyperion is a very fine set.
You can read the reviews on amazon. The RCA cd is long OOP and the only copy avaliable goes for $275.00. I wrote on my amazon comment months ago, that the $99.00 set for sale was a bargain and to "grab it". I knew the next set for sale would go for $$$
Sorry the Takacs don't cut it.

I just listened to MFSPC this morning. Hummm, I have to say it's drawing me in now. The opening especially sets a strange fantasia, though maybe not continuing with that stregth, its still a fine work.

The sq's , I don'rt think there's a weak one in the 6, each have a strongly defined character. Comparing them to Shostakovich's is not something I can consider. Both composers chamber stands as great works of our time.

Please order the New Budapest and give us your opinions.
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

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Post by Wallingford » Sat Sep 02, 2006 2:23 pm

Concerto For Orchestra, in the words of one critic, is simply one of those inevitabilities of musical history: it was a work that simply WAITED to be made.

The two recordings I was weaned on as a youngster were the Bernstein & the Ormandy 2 (both available on Sony CDs). Neither performance is perfect, but that's unavoidable; no single conductor can hope to do full justice to a work this formidable. (And, yes, that includes Reiner--perfect PLAYING, to be sure, but that man could be SO COLD.)
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Post by paulb » Sat Sep 02, 2006 2:47 pm

RebLem wrote:I love Bartok. . For some reason--and I know this will mark me as a knave for all time--the string quartets mainly leave me cold. .
Revisiting the 6 sq's today. Crushingly beautiful, emotionally gripping. Gut wrenching. At least this is how I feel with the New Budapest's artful genius.
Later tonight the 6 sq's with the Tokyo/RCA.
Frankly I;m not sure how they can be played with more depth that the New Budapest. ...we'll see....
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

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Post by Lance » Sat Sep 02, 2006 3:20 pm

Brendan wrote:Very different taste then. I collect everything of Fricsay I can find. Each to their own.
Well, we're members of the same "club." I collect everything I can get my hands on with Fricsay. He died far too young, and what he accomplished to the point of his death, in concert and on recordings, is quite staggering. He has certainly left an impression that lingers long after his passing.

Have you heard the Brahms Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 73 on Disques Refrain [930057], recorded with the Bavarian State Orchestra in May 1958? Operatically, there's Beethoven's opera Fidelio on Gebhardt [0045, 2 CDs], live 1951 that featured Peter Anders, the first time they appeared on records together. The cast also includes Helene Werth, Gottlob Frick, Josef Mettterich, all with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. There's also some complete operas on the WalHall label.
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Brendan

Post by Brendan » Sun Sep 03, 2006 5:08 pm

Lance,

The Fricsay Fidelio is the one I reach for, as I also do for most Mozart opera, but haven't any of his Brahms. Thanks for the recommendation.

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Post by hautbois » Mon Sep 04, 2006 2:52 am

So if i don't have much cash to spare which concerto for orchestra recording should i get?

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Post by val » Mon Sep 04, 2006 6:02 am

hautbois

So if i don't have much cash to spare which concerto for orchestra recording should i get?

My favorites are:

Fritz Reiner with the Chicago Orchestra (includes the best version of the Music for strings, percussion and celesta).

Antal Dorati with the Concertgebow Orchestra (includes a good version of the Two Pictures opus 10).

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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Sep 04, 2006 6:13 am

val wrote:
hautbois

So if i don't have much cash to spare which concerto for orchestra recording should i get?

My favorites are:

Fritz Reiner with the Chicago Orchestra (includes the best version of the Music for strings, percussion and celesta).

Antal Dorati with the Concertgebow Orchestra (includes a good version of the Two Pictures opus 10).
It doesn't make a lot of difference (it is a favorite of provincial orchestras and I even heard it with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic many years ago). However, the Reiner happens to be the recording I learned it from (as an LP, of course).

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Haydnseek » Mon Sep 04, 2006 8:53 am

An outstanding Bartok piece that hasn't been mentioned yet is the Divertimento for string orchestra.

I suppose my other favorites would include the 3rd Piano Concerto, 2nd Violin Concerto, The Wooden Prince. The string quartets have been tough nuts to crack so far but I won't give up on them.
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Post by paulb » Mon Sep 04, 2006 12:22 pm

Haydnseek wrote: The string quartets have been tough nuts to crack so far but I won't give up on them.
The Divertimento is a wonderful work and was eventually going to bring it up in my recordings survey.

The sq's in the right hands can win over your heart. Give the New Budapest a listen. I bought one of the 4 copies avaliable as a second backup set, for a friend.
I put my Tokyo/RCA set up for sale yesterday. There was one avaliable for 4250.00, so i have mine at $200.00. I may lower the price to 175, then 150, But no lower, as that set also has the 2 excellent Janacek sq's on it. I've updated my amazon review as well.
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

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Post by hautbois » Mon Sep 04, 2006 12:32 pm

unfortunately i have heard the concertgebouw/dorati at a friend's place and i didnt really like the interpretation, looks like i'll have to go for CSO/reiner for that brass chorale in the 2nd movement.

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Post by Wallingford » Mon Sep 04, 2006 12:55 pm

Actually, I'm a tiny bit surprised that the Dance Suite and the Divertimento For Strings--both hardy concert stalwarts--weren't given their own separate entries in the poll above......they've traditionally allowed listeners to "wet their toe" in Bartok's music and pave the way for enjoyment of the "big" works. (Even if the Dance Suite's second dance embarrassingly reminds some listeners of stereotyped "how-ugh" Indian music.)
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

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Post by paulb » Mon Sep 04, 2006 4:06 pm

Dorati's CfO with the London SO recorded 1962 has been surpassed. But at the time, and up until the mid 70's, its was the finest in print. Yes i do prefer it to Reiner's/Chicago. That one is too "matter of fact". I need more soul in my music.

Wallingford, i did not passa vote. bartok's works on all on equal level. His music is that spellbinding. I could only make a list of the very few works that I don't care for that much. Few they are. All his 'minor" works are true gems. If someone feels they know bartok only through his CfO, MFPSC and the pc's, they are missing out on many masterpieces.
I love his dance suite and others exactly for their folk inspired tunes.
As I revisit all of Bartok this week, its not possible for me to make a list in some order of my Fav Bartok. In some composers this is possible, others not so easy.
What about Bartok's 4 Orchestral Pieces, sz51.? Another masterpiece from Bartok not meantioned in "your fav list"
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

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Post by paulb » Wed Sep 06, 2006 7:51 am

Bartok cds I need to dump. Ivan Fischer's CfO, Boulez/New york's CfO. Skrowaczewski's VOX set. All not necessary. Boulez's New York Bartok is fair/average.
Opinion: Boulez/Chicago/DG is the most consistent and best performed.
Adam Fischer/Hungarian is a dud, his bother Ivan with the Budapest Festival cycle is fair "average". Solti/Chicago, fair , nothing exciting.
Oh yes and Dorati/Detroit is superb. Though I criticized the Israel PO on another thread, their recording of Hungarian Sketches with Zubin Mehta is pretty good on that Decca 2 cd set.
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

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