Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Essa-Pekka Salonen
"Bartok: Music for Strings, Percussion & Celeste" (CD)

American orchestras have ascribed to a certain hierarchy for the last 100 years or so.  The Big Five have included a bevy of east coast orchestras, but recently, perhaps in the last 30 years, California has emerged with not one, but two contenders for inclusion amongst America's Finest.

The San Fransisco Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic are now regarded as two of the finest, most stable and productive ensembles in the country.  In Los Angeles, this is in no small part to the tenure of Finnish conductor Essa-Pekka Salonen, music director from 1992 - 2009.

Recording Bartok's "Music for Strings, Percussion & Celeste" and "Concerto for Orchestra" is an overwhelming idea. Once the recording is finished, it's added to a very large pile of recordings that have been made of these works.  This is to speak to the power and popularity of these two works.  They are instantly gripping, challenging and yet rewarding to listen to, even to the moderately untrained ear.

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