Friday, March 19, 2010
Reginald Kell plays Bartok Contrasts and Milhaud Suite
This is one gorgeous, glorious performance of Bartok's Contrasts. Like so much of his music, this piece works quite as well performed in a hard edged, no nonsense modernist manner or, like here, with the deep lyricism inherent in the tunes underscored and built upon. My favorite recording of the quartets, the 2nd Juilliard from, I believe 1963, emphasizes the intellectual, modernist Bartok, but I would not for the world be without the Vegh Quartet recordings, which are decidedly more lyrical. However he is performed, Bartoks music has always seemed to me to be filled with incredible melodic invention, the dissonance, even in the very concentrated 3rd and 4th quartets, being the consequence of boundless polyphonic ingenuity. Anyway, that's how I hear Bartok.
The Milhaud is a divertimento of sorts, and a thoroughly delightful one. He is a composer much more closely identified with compositions for wind instruments than Bartok, who wrote only this one work for a solo wind instrument. The "night music" movement in his 1st Piano Concerto, though, has some very fine and beautiful writing for winds.
I like Reginald Kell a lot. His tone is incredibly beautiful -- silk and satin -- his phrasing is impeccable, and he possesses a musical suavity that is never ostentatious but always in the service of the music. If you hadn't guessed, I adore this musician. He is joined on this recording by excellent partners Melvin Ritter, violin and Joel Rosen, piano, less famous but nonetheless estimable musicians who play admirably here.
This recording is available as part of a boxed CD set of Kells' American Decca recordings.
Link to all files