Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra / Martinu: Memorial to Lidice / Klein: Partita

Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra / Martinu: Memorial to Lidice / Klein: Partita

by Christoph Eschenbach
     
 

Undeniably one of America's great orchestras -- and, since the completion of the Kimmel Center, the residents of one of America's great concert halls -- the Philadelphia Orchestra make a long-awaited return to active recording with this spellbinding disc, the first under their contract with Finland's excellent Ondine label. Given the adventurous tastes of See more details below

Overview

Undeniably one of America's great orchestras -- and, since the completion of the Kimmel Center, the residents of one of America's great concert halls -- the Philadelphia Orchestra make a long-awaited return to active recording with this spellbinding disc, the first under their contract with Finland's excellent Ondine label. Given the adventurous tastes of Christoph Eschenbach, the orchestra's music director since 2003, it's fitting that his program brings together a modernist classic (Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra) with compelling but little-known works that complement it perfectly. The Hungarian Bartók had emigrated to the U.S. by the time he wrote his 1943 masterpiece, and the Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu had done the same when he composed his searing Memorial to Lidice, an epitaph for a town in his homeland obliterated by the Nazis in 1942. The Jewish-Czech composer Gideon Klein was less fortunate; sent in 1941 to the Terezin concentration camp, where artistic pursuits were encouraged for their propaganda value, he composed his String Trio -- arranged here as a partita for string orchestra -- in 1944, shortly before being transferred to Auschwitz. Lest this all sound too grim, each of these works represents a struggle of the human spirit against brutality and adversity, traveling through elegy to reach an inspiring spiritual triumph. It's no less a triumph for the Philadelphia Orchestra, whose fabled richness of sound is fully evident in these live recordings from May 2005. Eschenbach's interpretation of the Bartók is on a par with classic recordings in the catalog, especially in the gripping finale, and Ondine's sound has a marvelous presence. But the Martinu and Klein rarities go further still to make this an essential reminder that the Philadelphians still have a firm place in the orchestral major leagues.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Leonard
When Leopold Stokowski had the Philadelphia Orchestra (1912-1939), they recorded for RCA in the U.S. When Eugene Ormandy had the Philadelphia (1939-1977), they recorded for CBS. When Riccardo Muti (1980-1993) and Wolfgang Sawallisch (1993-2003) had the Philadelphia, they recorded for EMI in England. With Christoph Eschenbach in charge of the Philadelphia (2003-?), who do you think they record for? Not an American label, not an English label, not a German label, and not a French label -- no, Eschenbach and the Philadelphia record for Finnish label Ondine. That's all right. Ondine is a fine label with warm sound and worldwide distribution and Eschenbach and the Philadelphia are much better served than the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, and the Cleveland Orchestra, all of which at the time were working without recording contracts. Besides, the most important thing, the quality of the music-making, is still first-rate. True, Eschenbach's Philadelphia sounds nothing like Sawallisch or Muti's, much less Ormandy or Stokowski's Philadelphia: it sounds clean, lean, and colorful. And true, Eschenbach sounds like none of his predecessors: he sounds muscular, modernist, and much, much edgier. That's all right, too. In these superbly recorded, superbly played, and superbly conducted performances of three mid-twentieth century masterpieces by Martinu, Klein, and Bart�k, Eschenbach and the Philadelphia sound like a world-class conductor and orchestra at the peak of their form -- brilliantly played, commandingly conducted, deeply felt, and profoundly musical. Anyone who loves great orchestral music will love this disc.
Gramophone - Rob Cowan
Ondine's beautifully presented CD features three powerful works composed in 1943-44.... The quiet opening [of the Concerto for Orchestra] really shimmers, climaxes are nicely tiered...and there's some effective pointing of instrumental detail.
BBC Music Magazine
The Philadelphia Orchestra has made a spectacular return to [CD] with this outstanding release.... This latest version [of the Concerto for Orchestra], recorded with brilliance and clarity by Ondine, goes to the top of the tree for its combination of insight, brilliance and musicality of line.
Wall Street Journal - Barrymore Laurence Scherer
Powerfully introspective, Martinu's Memorial] deserves greater familiarity, and this Eschenbach performance could make that happen.

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Product Details

Release Date:
11/15/2005
Label:
Ondine
UPC:
0761195107256
catalogNumber:
1072
Rank:
325180

Tracks

  1. Memorial to Lidice (Památník Lidicím) for orchestra, H. 296  - Bohuslav Martinu  - Christoph Eschenbach  - Eduardo Nestor Gomez  -  Philadelphia Orchestra  - Kevin Kleinmann
  2. Partita for strings  - Gideon Klein  - Christoph Eschenbach  - Eduardo Nestor Gomez  -  Philadelphia Orchestra  - Kevin Kleinmann
  3. Concerto for Orchestra, Sz. 116, BB 127  - Béla Bartók  - Christoph Eschenbach  - Eduardo Nestor Gomez  -  Philadelphia Orchestra  - Kevin Kleinmann

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