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Bartok: Piano Concertos No 1 & 2 / Pollini, Abbado

Release Date: 06/12/2007 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 1153995   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Béla Bartók
Performer:  Maurizio PolliniShlomo Mintz
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony OrchestraLondon Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BARTÓK Piano Concertos: No. 1; No. 2. 2 Portraits 1 Claudio Abbado; cond; Maurizio Pollini (pn); Shlomo Mintz (vn); 1 Chicago SO; London SO 1 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 000874702 (63:33)

Here is yet another reissue of the classic recordings of Bartók’s first two piano concertos, this time with an added bonus. These 1977 performances are cool, elegant, and brilliant; Read more Pollini’s playing is stunning, and the Chicago Symphony is on its best behavior, with an unmatched clarity that is abetted by the gorgeously clean DG recording. A highlight is the Adagio–Presto–Adagio movement of the Second Concerto; the Adagios have never been so eerily calm, the Presto so perfectly executed. The only real competition comes from Yefim Bronfman and Esa-Pekka Salonen on a Sony disc. Their performances have more sizzle and spice than these, at the cost of some of the clarity found here. But their biggest advantage is including all three concertos; it is a shame that Pollini and Abbado didn’t record the Third, which would benefit most of all from their elegance. This DG disc and the Sony are both so fine—and so different—as to be absolute musts.

The Two Portraits have been heard less often since the 1959 publication of Bartók’s 1908 First Violin Concerto, of which Portrait No. 1 (“One ideal”) is the opening Andante—that ideal being Bartók’s teenaged lover, the violinist Steffi Geyer. ArkivMusic.com offers a dozen discs of the Two Portraits , but many of them feature this recording, used by DG as a filler for several other CDs. Mintz’s tone is rather thin and dry in “One ideal.” I prefer the lush playing of Isaac Stern with Eugene Ormandy, in its First Concerto form. This pairing does allow us to hear the second Portrait (“One grotesque”), the composer’s own orchestral arrangement of a piano Bagatelle. It is a rousing early-Bartók piece, barely two minutes long, somewhat reminiscent of Stravinsky’s Fireworks of the same year (1908). This feisty performance serves it nicely.

FANFARE: James H. North
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 1, Sz 83 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Maurizio Pollini (Piano)
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; Budapest, Hungary 
Concerto for Piano no 2, Sz 95 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Maurizio Pollini (Piano)
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930-1931; Budapest, Hungary 
Portraits (2) for Orchestra, Op. 5/Sz 37 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Shlomo Mintz (Violin)
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907-1911; Budapest, Hungary 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 Too Moderne for me. August 26, 2014 By owen  ryan (lakewood, CA) See All My Reviews "I think Maurice S. Has written my review for me! I like other Bartok works but this is too much in that '20's post-romantic mode to suit my taste. No question that it may be expertly rendered and nicely recorded but it's no joy for me." Report Abuse
 I'm Probably Not a Bartok Fan August 26, 2014 By Maurice S. (Columbia, SC) See All My Reviews "Purchased this album on sale at Arkiv to explore composers/artists I am not familiar with. I did not particularly enjoy this album after the first few listenings, I just did not relate to Bartok's material all that well, as opposed to any fault in the CSO performances. I will update this review if the music grows on me over time. Recommend to those who already like Bartok." Report Abuse
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