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Discussion: Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra etc. - Reiner

Posts: 11
Page: 1 2 next

Post by Beagle July 1, 2010 (1 of 11)
On the 'Why sell historic recordings in SACD?' thread, sibelius2 said:

"Fritz Reiner was a personal friend of Bela Bartok, and had worked behind the scenes to create the commission which led to the Concerto for Orchestra. So Reiner's interpretation could be considered definitive no matter what."

Thank you sibelius2 for this info. I only knew that Bartók was working with Koussevitzky. --Which brings me back to a comment Windsurfer made recently on a 'Top Ten' thread, i.e. that the new Hungaroton/Kocsis recording is "more idiomatic" than Reiner's because Kocsis is Hungarian. There is no doubt some truth to that hypothesis (certainly to the extent that spoken language shapes musical language), but the more I thought about it, the more I was impressed by Kocsis' distance in time from the composition, and Reiner's nearness to when the Concerto was utterly new to the world. It may be that we need this OLD 1955 recording in order to hear the NEW music which so captivated Americans at its 1944 premiere.

Post by Hedgehog July 1, 2010 (2 of 11)
Beagle said:

On the 'Why sell historic recordings in SACD?' thread, sibelius2 said:

"Fritz Reiner was a personal friend of Bela Bartok, and had worked behind the scenes to create the commission which led to the Concerto for Orchestra. So Reiner's interpretation could be considered definitive no matter what."

Thank you sibelius2 for this info. I only knew that Bartók was working with Koussevitzky. --Which brings me back to a comment Windsurfer made recently on a 'Top Ten' thread, i.e. that the new Hungaroton/Kocsis recording is "more idiomatic" than Reiner's because Kocsis is Hungarian. There is no doubt some truth to that hypothesis (certainly to the extent that spoken language shapes musical language), but the more I thought about it, the more I was impressed by Kocsis' distance in time from the composition, and Reiner's nearness to when the Concerto was utterly new to the world. It may be that we need this OLD 1955 recording in order to hear the NEW music which so captivated Americans at its 1944 premiere.

Let us be very clear:

Reiner was born in Budapest, Hungary to a secular Jewish family that resided in the Pest area of the city. After preliminary studies in law at his fatherís urging, Reiner pursued the study of piano, piano pedagogy, and composition at the Franz Liszt Academy. During his last two years there his piano teacher was the young Béla Bartók. After early engagements at opera houses in Budapest and Dresden where he worked closely with Richard Strauss, he moved to the United States of America in 1922 to take the post of Principal Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra... (Wikipedia)

How could you be more Hungarian than that? Reiner's scorching performance still sounds extraordinary on Living Stereo SACD. Definitive, even.

And let us not forget that other great Bartokian, Georg Solti:

Solti was born György Stern (Hungarian: Stern György) in Budapest, Hungary to a Jewish family... (Wikipedia)

Solti also turned in a couple of searing Concertos with the London and Chicago Symphony Orchestras. And isn't the former re-appearing as a fancy new SHM SACD? I'd be really tempted by that - at a sane price that is.

Post by Windsurfer July 1, 2010 (3 of 11)
Beagle said:

-Which brings me back to a comment Windsurfer made recently on a 'Top Ten' thread, i.e. that the new Hungaroton/Kocsis recording is "more idiomatic" than Reiner's because Kocsis is Hungarian.

Did I say that I found the Hungaraton recording more "idiomatic" because *Koscis* is Hungarian? I knew Reiner's roots when I said I thought the Hungarton disc to be more idiomatic.

Dealing with impressions, that's all. Not being from Hungary nor having spent any time there, perhaps I should not express such an opinion, But to my ears, the technically lesser ensemble from Hungary phrases several passages with more of a dancing spirit, with more panache, and hence I used the term more "idiomatic".

But who am I to say? Quite possibly Bartok himself would have preferred Reiner's disc. The orchestral playing is impressive, its just that I think the Koscis is more nuanced. And for what its worth, the sound of the Koscis disc played in multi-channel sounds much more like music in a hall that I am sitting in. The Reiner, by contrast, sounds like a recording played on my stereo.

Post by Vaan July 1, 2010 (4 of 11)
You don´t have to be a Hungarian in order to perform Bartok idiomatically. There are many great Bartok-records from non-Hungarian musicians. A certain nationality is no guarantee, remember all the bad Sibelius performances that has come from Finland.
To my ears the Kocsis is very special, and there are no definitive interpretations. That´s what is so fascinating about music. Imho.

Post by sibelius2 July 1, 2010 (5 of 11)
Beagle said:

On the 'Why sell historic recordings in SACD?' thread, sibelius2 said:

"Fritz Reiner was a personal friend of Bela Bartok, and had worked behind the scenes to create the commission which led to the Concerto for Orchestra."

Thank you sibelius2 for this info. I only knew that Bartók was working with Koussevitzky.

From the liner notes to the Reiner/CSO Bartok disc on RCA Living Stereo:

"Fritz Reiner first met Bela Bartok... in 1905. Both were piano students of Istvan Thoman at the Budapest Academy."

"[Bartok's] American years were neither prosperous nor at all happy ones.... As a man of pride, Bartok steadfastly refused any help so labeled, and made it increasingly difficult to render even indirect assistance."

"Reiner, in association with Joseph Szigeti, set in motion means to stimulate Bartok's mind for work. It took the form of a commision from the Koussevitzky Foundation, personally conveyed to the composer in his room at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York...."

Post by flyingdutchman December 18, 2011 (6 of 11)
This one has appeared to go out of print and is attracting higher prices on ebay, Amazon, etc.

Post by jdaniel December 18, 2011 (7 of 11)
OT, but just discovered Kubelik's wonderful reading of Concerto for Orchestra with Boston Symphony, overshadowed by the "audiophle" favorites, Reiner and Solti. Very atmospheric and disarmingly-musical. Do look out for it.

Post by seth December 18, 2011 (8 of 11)
jdaniel said:

OT, but just discovered Kubelik's wonderful reading of Concerto for Orchestra with Boston Symphony, overshadowed by the "audiophle" favorites, Reiner and Solti. Very atmospheric and disarmingly-musical. Do look out for it.

I'm kinda surprised that this version is considered an "audiophile" favorite. I've always thought the imaging was rather poor -- there's a whole in the center of the orchestra. I think it's very clear how much better the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta sounds from three years where a third microphone was used. But it's still a great recording.

Post by jdaniel December 18, 2011 (9 of 11)
seth said:

I'm kinda surprised that this version is considered an "audiophile" favorite. I've always thought the imaging was rather poor -- there's a whole in the center of the orchestra. I think it's very clear how much better the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta sounds from three years where a third microphone was used. But it's still a great recording.

I'm assuming you mean the Reiner? I've listened intently to his MSPC too, but always thought the strings sounded a little garish.

Post by seth December 18, 2011 (10 of 11)
jdaniel said:

I'm assuming you mean the Reiner? I've listened intently to his MSPC too, but always thought the strings sounded a little garish.

yes

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