- The Miraculous Mandarin, pantomime in 1 act, Sz. 73, BB 82 (Op. 19)
- Dance Suite (Táncszvit) for orchestra, Sz. 77, BB 86a
- Hungarian Sketches (Magyar képek), for orchestra, Sz. 97, BB 103
Long familiar as a concert suite, Béla Bartók's one-act ballet "The Miraculous Mandarin" (1926) is now more frequently recorded in its entirety, thanks to the CD's abundant playing time; the full piece easily fits with additional works. This 2004 release from Naxos offers not only the complete "Mandarin," but also the rambunctious "Dance Suite" (1923) and the charming "Hungarian Sketches" (1931), a steal at the budget price. But quantity is only a virtue if matched in quality, and some may take issue with certain aspects of Marin Alsop's performances with the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and Orchestra. Alsop's insistence on clarity makes her "Mandarin" seem too cautiously paced to bring out all the details, and her loving attention to many sensuous passages seems to detract somewhat from the work's menace and fright. Yet there is still enough mayhem and violence in the climactic chase and murder scenes to satisfy the most bloodthirsty listener, and the strange "love music" of the final episode is genuinely disturbing. Taken as a whole, then, the ballet is so imaginatively conceived and lustrously played that Alsop's fastidiousness in some places is excusable. Naxos provides fine sound quality overall, though it is a little weak in some of the quieter moments of the "Dance Suite" and "Hungarian Sketches."