While the daring and still-shocking works of Bartók have somehow eased their way into most orchestras' repertoires, it's exciting to listen to a conductor like Ozawa put these two (incredibly popular) pieces through an aggressive workout. Emphasizing the structural tensions in Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, we wind up with a whirlwind of instrumental bravado, an organically hefty half-hour that bristles with the daring approach of a composer in his inventive prime. While the Concerto for Orchestra is a much more elegant and slightly more sentimental work it was written two years before Bartók's death, when the composer was clearly concerned less with breaking down walls than with his own mortality Ozawa still digs up plenty of the piece's inherent drama and dynamics.
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