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Predating Bartók’s famous Concerto for Orchestra by only a few years, Zoltán Kodály’s offering is a slighter but nonetheless superb piece, with its identifiably Hungarian harmonies and ecstatic climax. Jakub Hrůša, who has led the Philharmonia Orchestra in some notable live performances, clarifies the fuller textures with a razor-sharp ear; this performance replaces his earlier Buffalo Philharmonic recording for Naxos.

The Bartók, again in fine sound, scores in passages of brooding atmosphere but falls short in excitement and dynamism. The famous Shostakovich quote is neither cheeky nor outrageous; the overall result is unsatisfying, despite a wonderfully rehearsed orchestra on top technical form. And with all those orchestral dances around from these composers, why not more fillers, given the total playing time of less than an hour?

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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