Originally published on April 8
Also included is the Opus 12 Four Orchestral Pieces (a Boulez favourite during his BBCSO tenure), music rapt and rarefied in the ‘Preludio’ – certainly in this bejewelled rendition – with a growing intensity and atmosphere that corresponds with Bluebeard’s Castle, contrasted with the wild and scurrying ‘Scherzo’ that follows, then an enigmatic ‘Intermezzo’ and, finally, a nakedly emotional ‘Marcia funebre’. Throughout, Karina Canellakis’s keen ear for detail and her technical control of ensemble pay many dividends, as it does for the Concerto for Orchestra, given with a sense of occasion and impressively wrought in terms of dynamics, rhythmic alertness and lyrical shaping, if not, always, a structured through-line (especially in the first movement) – Canellakis’s priority is expression. She chooses a nippy tempo for ‘Game of the Couples’, too fast really despite the agile and precise playing, incident-packed (as throughout), whereas ‘Elegia’ is striking, deeply darkly passionate, and the remaining movements are also full of character and interesting divergences, worthy of recommendation if not in preference to Susanna Mälkki’s Helsinki version, http://www.colinscolumn.com/susanna-malkki-helsinki-philharmonic-record-bartok-mspc-concerto-for-orchestra-for-bis/, which also has the advantage of even better sound – Pentatone’s reproduction, for all its clarity, can be a little fierce in the loudest passages. Nevertheless, Canellakis can be included on a Bartók shortlist, with Opus 12 quite superb. Pentatone PTC 5187 027 is released on April 28.