These re-mastered or at least re-released recordings of the 1989 and 1990 recordings of Gerhard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony are a treat. At the time of the release of this particular coupling of Kodály and Dohnányi the recording was hailed by many critics as being echt Hungarian! They still hold a top place in the collection of releases currently available. In a way the positioning of an all Hungarian program is an infectious one. At present young vibrant Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado is in residency with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and is performing Kodály's exhilarating Háry János Suite and coupling it with Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra as bookends for the 2012 Do Re Mi Violin Concerto of Peter Eötvös with Midori performing. It is a spectacular experience!
Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony offer a fine performance of the Háry János suite. After the famous opening orchestral sneeze the Viennese Musical Clock chimes out with cheery accuracy, and the Battle and Defeat of Napoleon, Entrance of the emperor and His Court the following viola solo is lush. The Seattle Symphony's rich, boldly colorful sound is at its best in the biggest climaxes, like in a battle scene which builds to wonderful heights from a measured initial pace, and also in basically any of the excellent woodwind solos.
For many the highlight is actually Kodály's beloved Dances of Galánta: Gerard Schwarz shapes the slow opening dances with lusciousness and rhythmic flexibility and all the woodwind solos are exceptional. A special treat is the inclusion of Dohnányi's Konzertstück for Cello and Orchestra. Despite its name, it is a full-blown concerto with the usual three movements incorporated as one in easily recognizable sections plus a reprise and cadenza. The great János Starker is the soloist here, essaying the many beauties of a score that includes a nocturnal Adagio section where the cello's melody is enhanced by distant birdcalls in the flutes.
This is a highly satisfactory recording that only improves with repeated hearings. Grady Harp, January 13