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Solti - Mephisto Magic / Chicago Symphony Orchestra


Release Date: 05/01/2008 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 443444   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Franz LisztBéla BartókLeó WeinerZoltán Kodály
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 12 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

A terrific programme, this—the sort of thing that regularly graced the old LP catalogues, but that has since given way to more fashionable 'one-composer' collections. The sequence is imaginative the material extremely attractive, and the standard of performance high. The Mephisto Waltz swirls in heady abandon, with strings delicate as thistledown, and some snappy work from the Chicagoan brass. Liszt's musical alchemy pays particularly high dividends in the quieter music, where Solti's mercurial vision recalls the more haunting elements in Mephisto's twilit world. The once-ubiquitous Second Hungarian Rhapsody is wittily turned, although Doppler's sundry added counterpoint and rather tame orchestration tend to mute the rustic edge of Liszt's Read more original. The performance though, has plenty of life and the recording conjures up a realistic sense of aural perspective.

Sir Georg's empathy for this idiom is everywhere in evidence, and never more so than in Bartok's Romanian folkdances, where lightness of touch and sensitive rubato recreate a crucial feeling of improvisation. The Hungarian Sketches are tellingly pointed, with fluid lines in ''Evening in the Village'' and ''Melody'', a hilarious ff trombone/tuba belch in ''A Little Tipsy'' (0'42'') and cleanly differentiated percussion in the ''Bear Dance''. Here one might also recall Reiner's more explosive option, whereas in Dorati's roughly contemporaneous Minneapolis recording (Mercury, 10/60—nla), snare and tenor drum are virtually inaudible. Solti's is now perhaps the current front-runner, and makes for a most entertaining musical diversion. Nice too to hear music by the much underrated Leo Weiner, his Csongor es Tunde ballet with its subtle reminiscences of Nicolai's Merry Wives of Windsor Overture (4'45'') and Liszt's Dante Symphony. The busy scherzo is the sort of thing Bartok might have composed had he not outgrown the worlds of Strauss and Dohnanyi, while the Introduction is reminiscent of Kodaly in pastoral vein. Kodaly himself is represented by a genial, often brilliantly played account of the Hary Janos Suite, consistently swifter than Solti's 1955 Decca recording with the LPO (8/55—nla), perhaps a little less taut (the ''Battle and Defeat of Napoleon'' is a good deal less brazen) but superbly recorded and with some distinctive solo work. And what a blessed relief to hear the cimbalom properly integrated into the orchestral texture (especially in the ''Intermezzo''), rather than jangling a conspicuous (and surely inappropriate) level of counterpoint.

So, an enthusiastic recommendation, followed by an urgent plea for 'more of same': a ''Czech Connections'', perhaps, with Dvorak, Martinu Smetana and Janacek; or a Russian miscellany with ''The Mighty Handful'' spiced by a whiff of Prokofiev. It's a most entertaining way to present music that is too often relegated to the unflattering status of 'filler' material. Certainly the works that Solti programmes fully warrant a superior programming context—which is precisely what they receive here.

-- Gramophone [1/1995]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Episodes from Lenau's Faust, S 110: no 2, Der Tanz in der Dorfschenke "Mephisto Waltz no 1" by Franz Liszt
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1861; Weimar, Germany 
Date of Recording: 11/1993 
Venue:  Live  Orchestra Hall, Chicago, Illinois 
Length: 10 Minutes 40 Secs. 
2.
Hungarian Rhapsodies (6) for Orchestra, S 359: no 2 in D minor by Franz Liszt
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Date of Recording: 11/1993 
Venue:  Live  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 10 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Notes: Arranged: Doppler 
3.
Hungarian Sketches (5), Sz 97 by Béla Bartók
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931; Budapest, Hungary 
Date of Recording: 11/1993 
Venue:  Live  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 10 Minutes 49 Secs. 
4.
Prinz Csongor und die Kobolde Suite, Op. 10b: Introduction by Leó Weiner
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1927; Hungary 
Date of Recording: 11/1993 
Venue:  Live  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 10 Minutes 35 Secs. 
5.
Prinz Csongor und die Kobolde Suite, Op. 10b: Scherzo by Leó Weiner
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1927; Hungary 
Date of Recording: 11/1993 
Venue:  Live  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 6 Minutes 1 Secs. 
6.
Háry János, Op. 15: Suite by Zoltán Kodály
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927; Hungary 
Date of Recording: 11/1993 
Venue:  Live  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 22 Minutes 48 Secs. 
7.
Romanian Folkdances for String Orchestra, Sz 68 by Béla Bartók
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1917; Budapest, Hungary 
Venue:  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 

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