Continuing with his enterprising London Philharmonic series for Telarc (which has ranged from Bruckner and Strauss to Szymanowski and Hartmann), American conductor Leon Botstein essays the music of Be

Continuing with his enterprising London Philharmonic series for Telarc (which has ranged from Bruckner and Strauss to Szymanowski and Hartmann), American conductor Leon Botstein essays the music of Bela Bartók, both familiar and rarely heard. The Concerto for Orchestra (1943) is one of the Hungarian composer's late masterpieces, an uncommon work in that it's both a virtuoso showpiece and a moving work of art. The London orchestra plays beautifully—and they benefit from a remarkable recording—but Botstein's interpretation is too romanticized to compete with the likes of fiery Ivan Fischer and his Budapest orchestra on a recent Philips disc. (A bonus for scholars, though, comes in the inclusion of a short passage comprising the work's more subdued original ending.) With the early Four Orchestral Pieces and mid-period Hungarian Peasant Songs, Botstein isn't up against as much competition. And it's always rewarding to hear such rich music played and recorded so well.—BB

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