I'm sure most would agree that these two are Bela Bartok's best works. The Music for String Instruments, Percussion, and Celesta is a profoundingly masterfull composition written in the prime of his career. It is a benchmark piece in the history of string repertoire, and the first movement is considered one of the top fugues ever written. Being a music composition student myself, I have closely studied the score of this movement, and every time I look at it I am blown away by the musical genius of Bartok. The Concerto for Orchestra, which gains its name because of its tendacy to treat the orchestral instruments in a soloistic manner, is one of the big and unforgettable showcases in the 20th century repertoire. Written at the end of his life when Bartok had come to America, the Concerto is a tremendous work of high energy, which must have been undeniably difficult to write for Bartok who at the time was in failing health. Commishioned for the Boston Symphony, it immediately gained fame amongst audiences, though Bartok was too sick to attend the premiere or appreciate his success.
The Toronto Symphony puts on a good performance of the Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta while the brilliant conducting for Sir Andrew Davis leads his Royal Stockholm Orchestra to a great recoring of the Concerto. At a budget priced label, this CD is hard to pass up for 20th century classical music fans.