First there was this, https://www.naxos.com/CatalogueDetail/?id=8.573838, and now, just as recommendable, is a second Kodály album from JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic.

In the Suite from the fantastical opera Háry János (mid-1920s) the stiffest possible competition comes from Kodály’s fellow-Hungarian George Szell (born there anyway, like Ormandy and Dorati, with all three destined for celebrated tenures in America) and the Cleveland Orchestra (CBS/Sony), every perfectly judged note and nuance a part of me from endless playing of the LP (ditto Prokofiev’s Kijé on the other side). However, conductors find their own way, and can persuade for the duration; Leonard Slatkin managed it on a recording nearly lost, https://www.classicalsource.com/cd/three-hungarian-suites/, and Falletta does similarly (I have not forgotten Fricsay or Masur), beginning with a well-aimed orchestral ‘sneeze’, signifying that the adventures that will unfold, however bizarre, are truthful, here brightly coloured, lyrical, garish and swaggering, ending with a cannon shot. Placed third, ‘Song’ is especially haunting with an intense cello solo (uncredited) and the rustic tangy timbre of an indigenous cimbalom (Chester Englander) that also appears in the ‘Intermezzo’, which is easy to drag and retard; Falletta avoids both intrusions.

Summer Evening is atmospheric and varied (suggesting dusky plains, agile insects, and nocturnal musings), potentially too long at seventeen minutes and something of a ‘cut and paste’ job anyway if with each episode likeable (the most pastoral of them suggest Vaughan Williams), here alive from Buffalo, and if structural seamlessness is amiss, it also is (likewise developmental facility) with the three-movement Symphony in C (finished in 1961 following three decades of on-off toil). It’s a curious piece, neither momentous or anonymous if thematically challenged (one motif pointing to John Williams), more Classical than anything, and, in its favour, a lack of pretentiousness. So, do what Falletta does, avoid inflating it, and the curiosity value increases, for a recording to return to in order to check ongoing reactions; at present the enigmatic slow movement is the highlight and its outsiders are of folksy bluster (splendid Buffalo brass to fuel things along) if little substance.

Very good sound (May & November 2022, Kleinhans Music Hall) on Naxos 8.574556.

https://www.naxos.com/News/Detail/?title=In_the_Studio_In_Love_with_Zolt%C3%A1n_Kod%C3%A1ly

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