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COMPOSERS: Bartok/Schumann
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 3
PERFORMER: Géza Anda (piano); Dresden Staatskapelle/Herbert von Karajan
The booklet for this release tells us that in all his years in charge of the Salzburg Festival this was the only occasion (a concert on 13 August 1972) on which Karajan conducted a work by Bartók there. Géza Anda was, of course, a distinguished interpreter of the Bartók concertos and Karajan certainly shapes the music persuasively; but I dislike the crude, close-balanced Austrian Radio recording, and the ‘expressive’ portamentos in the strings’ thoughtful contributions to the slow movement (surely something altogether cooler is required). The finale is better, but it scarcely dances with joy. The concerto is, however, a good deal more successful than Karajan’s unstylish account of Schumann’s Fourth Symphony. Again, the balance favours the first violins at the expense of inner detail, and the ensemble is significantly less good than the technically flawless results Karajan usually achieved from ‘his’ orchestras in Berlin and Vienna. In addition, the Romanze is slow and charmless and the second subject in the finale is horribly lingering. I could go on. Perhaps it was a memorable concert for those who were able to attend; but this is quite definitely not a library choice for either work. Stephen Maddock