Stravinsky, Bart—k

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COMPOSERS: Bartok,Stravinsky
LABELS: Philips
WORKS: Violin Concerto in D. Violin Concerto No. 2
PERFORMER: Los Angeles PO/Esa-Pekka Salonen
CATALOGUE NO: 456 542-2
Two magnificent, almost contemporaneous works by great, but very different composers. The performances also differ, but not exactly for the best of reasons. ‘I am here,’ declaims Mullova, allowing the Bartók only the briefest moment of serenity before grabbing it firmly by the scruff of the neck. Unfortunately, the piece attempts to wriggle free of her grasp and the many enthralling moments do not quite add up to a coherent vision. Nevertheless, at least there is no doubting the conviction of all involved.

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‘Another day, another concerto,’ seems to be the motto for the Stravinsky. It may not be the most overtly demonstrative of works, but that is no excuse for letting passages such as the central section of the slow movement bumble along with all the rhythmic vitality of a blancmange. Is this the same orchestra? The notes and dynamics are there, but the performers’ minds seem periodically to be elsewhere. As with so many recordings, the sound would be ‘excellent’ if the producer had remembered that at a concert the soloist would not be standing next to the listener. Christopher Dingle