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Bartok and Kodaly - SCO - The Absolute Sound

It's the Bartok Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste you'll want this disc for. Mackerras is completely in tune with the Bartok darkness, and his Scottish players sound like a world-class organisation. I wish I knew which engineer did the Bartok - the label doesn't say - but whichever, he did a fine job of honouring the composer's intent. Bartok wanted two string orchestras, left and right, with the percussion ensemble in the middle. With this recording, that's exactly what you get, with the spaces between the players clearly - but not overly - defined. Thus is revealed a kind of contrapuntal interplay that brings us closer to the music, instead of distancing us from its essential spookiness. (Check out [the] last movement and remember that Stanley Kubrick used it as background in The Shining). If your SACD gear is not up to snuff, the highs may sound a little edgy on the fortes, but they aren't. The sound is rich, dark and enveloping, a real tribute to the folks at Linn who sponsored this recording.

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The Absolute Sound
01 February 2005