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Reviews: Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra - Eschenbach

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Reviews: 5

Site review by akiralx December 25, 2005
Performance:   Sonics:  
The first of hopefully a series of releases from an agreement between the Philadelphia Orchestra and Ondine, this SACD is a promising but not outstanding start.

The main work, Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, is given a good performance, Eschenbach occasionally choosing some expansive speeds. The orchestral playing throughout is excellent. This is more than decent, but in such a competitive field it can't really compete with Kocsis' amazing performance on Hungaroton, which is frankly in a different class interpretatively.

Klein's Partita, a work unknown to me, sounds fine, but Martinu's powerful threnody 'Memorial to Lidice' sadly doesn't quite come off here, mainly owing to the often funereal tempi choices from Eschenbach. At such speeds the work ends up sounding leaden, and the Beethoven's Fifth quotation sounds spongily submerged at the climax - a far better version is Belohlavek's on Chandos, coupled with the Field Mass and the Fourth Symphony.

Sonically the disc is pretty good, with fine presence, if not quite the depth of the best SACDs. Still this is the best the Philadelphians have sounded on disc in quite a few years.

Review by dschawv December 24, 2005 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I was looking forward to this recording a great deal. Previews said this would be great,
As beautifully played as this recording is, it has no spice or flavor.
It is missing the paprika. So well played without character.
So, as Bartok goes, get Reiner or Kocsis. Just recieved the Kocsis, it is wonderful.
Great sonic soundstage.

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Review by mdt December 28, 2005 (2 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
A great recording. It brings together 3 important ingredients of an outstanding orchestral recording: a world class orchestra, world class acoustics and world class sound recording. Most other good recordings will contain only one, at most two, of those ingredients.

Now let's see Mr. Porter record in the Luzern KKL (acoustics by Russell Johnson as Philadelphias Verizon-Hall)during the "Lucerne Festival" !

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Review by wehecht March 8, 2006 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Having attended one of the concerts from which this recording is drawn I can testify that the multichannel sound provides a very good representation of the Philadelphia orchestra in Verizon hall. This may not be the fabled "Philadelphia sound" of days gone by, but it is very clear and well balanced with great timbral accuracy. Maestro Eschenbach's interpretations remain a source of some controversy here in Philadelphia, and I am among those who find his chosen tempi occasionally wayward, as others have mentioned in connection with the Bartok. But despite some reservations this disc is a fine recording of a great orchestra at work, and a tribute to the producers and engineers working in a new venue.

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Review by terence May 17, 2006 (3 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
mixed feelings about this - great to hear the philadelphia back on record, slightly underwhelmed by this particular disc.

sonically it's fairly disappointing. i find it lacking in "see-through" transparency, muggy on detail. timps "swim" around a little and rumble. dynamic range seems quite narrow. one doesn't really get a satisfying hall acoustic - the overall effect is somewhat muffled and occluded. i wouldn't put it THAT much higher than typical LSO Live sound, though it is on the whole better.

which makes eschenbach's performance difficult to assess objectively. there's some great orchestral playing, but the interpretation doesn't strike me as consistently on the same level of inspiration from one moment to the next.

still, i prefer this overall to the kocsis/hungaroton disc, which i find coarse and hectic interpretatively, and sonically brash. i think it's been grossly overrated.

which leaves me wondering whether i ought to buy the new jarvi/cincinnati bartok concerto. i trust classics today most of the time (they give it 10/10), but not on the jarvi/cincinnati combination, which i find they've over-graded consistently.

anybody heard the telarc disc and can offer guidance?

[P.S. just popped on the jarvi/cincinnati stravinsky petrushka SACD to check whether my sonic judgements on the eschenbach bartok aren't too severe. the telarc sound is in another league altogether, and reinforces my relative disappointment with ondine/philadelphia.

looks like i really will have to get the new jarvi/bartok concerto, just to satisfy my curiosity....].

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