Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra; Enesco: Romanian Rhapsodies

Royal Scottish Orchestra
Neeme Järvi

1991: Chandos Records CHAN 8947

    Concerto for Orchestra (Sz 116)
    Béla Bartók (1881–1945)

  1. I.   Introduzione  Andante non troppo / Allegro vivace
  2. II.   Giuoco delle coppie  Allegretto scherzando
  3. III.   Elegia  Andante, non troppo
  4. IV.   Intermezzo interrotto  Allegretto
  5. V.   Finale  Pesante / Presto
  6. Romanian Rhapsody in A major Op. 11, No. 1

    Georges Enesco (1881–1955)

  7. Romanian Rhapsody in D major Op. 11, No. 2

    Georges Enesco (1881–1955)

I’m not embarrassed to admit that Enesco’s Romanian Rhapsody No. 1 is the sole reason I have this CD: I’ve never been a fan of Bartok’s work, and Enesco’s second Romanian Rhapsody is neither here nor there. No. 1, however, is *brill* and fully deserves its popularity. This recording is one of the best I’ve heard (and the piece does get played a lot on classical-music radio stations, so I’ve heard many).

In addition, the liner notes (by Christopher Palmer) for this release make some lovely observations, my favorite being this about the first of the Rhapsodies:

Repeated hearings or study bring to light certain technical unorthodoxies cunningly built in to what appears to be a normal symphonic sound-picture: a piccolo who comes in half a beat late but manages to correct himself within a couple of bars, and an amazing passage of unorganised argumentative chaos in which the woodwind and brass cannot agree either on which version of the tune they are supposed to be playing or on when and how to play it (the piccolo intervenes and makes matters worse).

Hell, I added the score of that often-hilarious piece to my library just so I could follow along with this one and laugh (albeit a bit crazedly, as the pace of much of the music is dizzying, to say the least). Fun, fun stuff.