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CD Review

Béla Bartók

Concerto for Orchestra, Sz. 116, BB 127

Houston Symphony Orchestra/Leopold Stokowski
Everest Records SDBR-3069
Find it at Amazon

Grateful as I am that Countdown Media Group is bringing back the Everest catalog, previous reissue labels have been a little more generous in terms of disc timing. Mind you, this series is mastered for iTunes and the physical discs from are cheap, but I can't imagine the average collector filling their shelves with these albums. That said, some of them have genuine historical importance, including the programs that document Stokowski's work in Houston.

Aside from the Old Man's lobotomy of a Carmina Burana, the conductor's work on Everest is basically normal music making. Okay, those Houston Wagner discs are also bizarre, but in a "I can't believe he managed to get his orchestra to make such amazing sounds while being so weird" kind of way. Otherwise, the Strauss and Tchaikovsky discs (with what is essentially the New York Philharmonic in disguise) are fabulous, and this Bartók Concerto for Orchestra is also very fine. Typically, the harps sound huge, and there are a few other balance issues. Otherwise, the conductor pretty much sticks to the score, and if the results don't blow you away, they will continually impress. While not the greatest recording of the work ever made, this still stands as a tribute to both orchestra and conductor. Try it, because you just might like it.

Copyright © 2015, Brian Wigman