Thursday, September 20, 2012
"Bartok: Second Suite for Orchestra op. 4"
One of the true joys of finding recordings such as this on dusty record shelves is that often times, for whatever reason, they have never left the sleeve very often. Perhaps they thought it would sound more like that Respighi work they liked, or someone told them it would be reminiscent of "Swan Lake."
However it turns out, when a recording doesn't get listened to much over the past 60 years it ends up in my hands in near-pristine condition. For an original mono pressing of a Mercury recording, this is no small accomplishment.
I'm not familiar with this work; it was an earlier composition for Bartok: written during his Hungarian folk music gathering phase with Kodaly and then revised slightly in 1943, this recording features those revisions. Bartok had just finished writing his "Concerto for Orchestra" in 1943, so his compositional style had grown quite substantially since the near-romantic stylings of some of this work.
The Minneapolis Symphony, talked about as a "stepping stone" for soon-to-be great conductors like Mitropoulos and Ormandy is helmed by the Hungarian Dorati and sounds refreshingly loose. The violins aren't terribly together and small rhythmic and intonation errors have been preserved for all time. It's a noteworthy item on this record as we have become so accustomed to sanitized "perfect" recordings.
In an age before editing and with repertoire that was surely unfamiliar to most people, a precise, exacting recording would have been nearly impossible.
Posted by T. at 12:01 PM