Recorded as part of their critically praised Infernal Dance season, the Philharmonia Orchestra under Esa-Pekka Salonen explore three contrasting works by Bela Bartok - the chamber piece Contrasts and the orchestral works Dance Suite and The Miraculous Mandarin. Contrasts is one of Bartok's most imaginative forays into the world of chamber music while Dance Suite is a rhapsodic collection of folk inspired tunes. The Miraculous Mandarin is raw, dangerous, exotic and elemtnal.
Now-or-never concert adrenaline is palpable here. There’s unflinching attack in the savage pantomime The Miraculous Mandarin, deadpan wit in the gentler Dance Suite, and it’s all delivered with that unnervingly meticulous, steely focusRead more that conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen gets from the Philharmonia. Some might like their Bartók rougher-edged, but I was drawn in by the cool ferocity and steadfast virtuosity of these performances. As a very nice extra we get Contrasts, a glory of a trio commissioned by Benny Goodman in 1938.