Some of Lorin Maazel’s first recordings were made for Deutsche Grammophon and he was merely 27 and this collection presents vivid performances of three great 20th-century ballet scores, all infused with the folk rhythms of their respective composers’ native lands – Falla’s Andalusia and Stravinsky’s Russia. Both composers also exploited the most sophisticated orchestral textures available to the late Romantics, creating virtuoso showpieces of kaleidoscopic variety. They are interpreted here by the young Maazel and his Berlin radio orchestra, in recordings whose orchestral splendor astounds the ear today just as the original releases dazzled critics and the public decades ago. ‘To achieve this level of fluency – to say nothing of the sheer élan and idiomatic awareness in the Berlin orchestra’s playing – Maazel clearly rehearsed the music with astonishing vigour and conducted it inspiringly. Even to our ears now, the way he confronts us with the pounding force of Stravinsky’s ostinatos is invigorating,’ writes Richard Morrison. Completing his survey of music from the early part of the 20th century, recorded for DG with orchestras from Berlin, are recordings of music by Bartók made in 1979 and released internationally on CD for the first time.
“a good orchestra, with excellent players and admirable cohesion, plenty of imagination, warm recording; and by far the best singer this ballet has yet had on disc. Grace Bumbry has not only a rich, well-managed voice but a true understanding of the style [El amor brujo]; exuberance of spirit, splendid playing, with great finesse of tonal gradations and first rate attack in the farruca; excellent balance [El sombrero de tres picos]” (Falla) Gramophone
“there is some bewitching playing here … in the kaleidoscopic, entrancing Song of the Nightingale. The recording could hardly be bettered” (Stravinsky) Gramophone
“plenty of atmosphere and good perspective. Detail is well defined and there is a wide frequency response … As a recording the work has never been better served […] a Bartók performance which has warmth as well as bite … the DG sound for the whole record is as full and brilliant as one could want” (Bartók) Gramophone
“Maazel secures astonishing orchestral brilliance and panache, but with a dislikeable, hard-edged relentlessness. Bartok's rarely heard Two Pictures emerge best.” BBC Music Magazine