Bartok: The Miraculous Mandarin; Hungarian Peasant Songs; Hungarian Sketches; Romanian Folk Dances

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Bartok
LABELS: Philips
WORKS: The Miraculous Mandarin; Hungarian Peasant Songs; Hungarian Sketches; Romanian Folk Dances
PERFORMER: Budapest Festival Orchestra; Hungarian Radio Chorus/Iván Fischer
CATALOGUE NO: 454 430-2
The scenario of The Miraculous Mandarin, set not in the traditional ballet fairyland but in the red-light district of a big city, drew from Bartók one of his most imaginative and thrilling orchestral scores. It receives a performance of dashing virtuosity and passionate conviction from Fischer and his hand-picked Budapest orchestra. The earthy clarinets are outstanding in the ‘Games of Seduction’; the trombones snarl their way through the chase scenes; the strings are vehement in their attack. The impact of the playing is enhanced by the immediacy of the recording, which occasionally exaggerates the spotlighting of solo instruments but appropriately suggests a theatre pit rather than a lofty concert hall. The programme is completed imaginatively by a selection of Bartók’s orchestrations of his piano pieces. Here again the playing is thoroughly idiomatic: the woodwind invest the broken phrases of the ‘Melody’ in the Hungarian Sketches with genuine pathos; the Romanian Folk Dances are played with an exhilarating awareness of the music’s roots in a living tradition. Anthony Burton

Advertisement