While Pierre Boulez's high performance standards are largely met on this CD, his perfectionism creates problems in Bartók's Dance Suite. What should be a boisterous dance work without reservations is presented here in an overly pristine and cautious performance, and the suite is made to sound like a series of pretty vignettes. This is not what Bartók intended, and Boulez should have known better. His recording of the same work in 1972 with the New York Philharmonic is more energetic and vital, with structure being a major concern and beautiful sonorities less of an obsession. The rest of this disc is less problematic. Bartók's Pictures (2) is treated as a rhapsody, which the work's slow-fast form and Hungarian themes clearly indicate. Considering that Bartók's early sound was influenced by Liszt and Strauss, Boulez renders the work in a romantic manner, without a trace of parody. The Hungarian Sketches require a less studied approach, since the music itself is direct and most appealing when played as written. Boulez and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra give it a brilliant performance. The Divertimento for string orchestra receives the most bracing reading on the disc. The strings play with brusqueness and vigor in keeping with the work's neo-Classical orientation.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Dance Suite (Táncszvit) for orchestra, Sz. 77, BB 86a|
|Pictures (2) (Két kép), for orchestra, Sz. 46, BB 59 (Op. 10)|
|Hungarian Sketches (Magyar képek), for orchestra, Sz. 97, BB 103|
|Divertimento for string orchestra, Sz. 113, BB 118|