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Bartok: Miraculous Mandarin, Concerto For Orchestra / Ozawa, Boston Symphony Orchestra

Bartok,Bela / Boston Sym Orch / Ozawa
Release Date: 11/16/2010 
Label:  Newton Classics   Catalog #: 8802029  
Composer:  Béla Bartók
Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony OrchestraTanglewood Festival Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

A rewarding release... As to the Mandarin, first impressions suggest a gloved fist on Ozawa's part and a general softening of attack since [his earlier DG recording from] 1975. Comparing the old with the new proves to what extent individual engineering teams can manipulate the one acoustic (in this case, Symphony Hall, Boston). DG's sound is big and resonant, with crowds of competing detail and plenty of impact. Philips favour closer balancing, with over-prominent brass (the lead trumpet tends to excessive fierceness), warmer strings and a relatively dry acoustical backdrop. In the newer recording, the ballet's opening riot is fiery but contained, with trumpets momentarily opting out (or so it sounds) at 103'. Then, when the chaos has Read more cleared and the violas enter forte (127"), 'Ozawa 2' must bow to his more aggressive, younger (DG) self. Both versions feature beautifully drawn seduction games and fairly savage dramatic interjections, but Ozawa's chase was wilder in 1975 than in 1994 and the all-important side-drum part (a vivid source of syncopation that is all but inaudible in Rattle's otherwise superbly recorded account) is clearer on the DG version (try from, say, 1812" on track I of the DG and 516" on track 9 of the Philips). Thereafter, the Suite stops dead and Ozawa 1 is no longer a consideration... Viewed overall, Ozawa is strong on sensuality - those all-pervading glissandos, the seduction games and the languidly teasing sequences that lead to the chase - whereas [Simon] Rattle generates marginally more in the way of nervous tension. My current mood leads in the direction of Ozawa, but I'd be happy to live with either.

As to the Concerto for Orchestra...the Bostonians' Bartókian pedigree - it was, after all, Koussevitzky who commissioned the work — guarantees a certain élan and refinement... Ozawa is best where the going gets frantic (his finale is terrific, especially at the outset, and he plays Bartok's more concise original ending)... Ozawa's virtues are intelligence, alertness and a fine ear for detail...

-- Gramophone [8/1995]
reviewing the original release, Philips 442783
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Works on This Recording

Miraculous Mandarin, Op. 19/Sz 73 by Béla Bartók
Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Tanglewood Festival Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918-1919; Budapest, Hungary 
Concerto for Orchestra, Sz 116 by Béla Bartók
Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; USA 

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