Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Keyword Search
  Classical Music Home > Music News


First Bartók disc on Naxos with Alsop at the helm

Naxos continues its artistic partnership with conductor Marin Alsop and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra when it releases Béla Bartók’s Miraculous Mandarin, Dance Suite, and Hungarian PicturesAlsop’s first Bartók disc on Naxoson April 19th, 2005.  This CD comes in the wake of Alsop’s first recording with the London Philharmonic Orchestra of a complete Brahms symphonies cycle.

Although known for her stellar Naxos American Classics recordings—and more recently for her skill as a Brahms interpreter—Alsop has also gained praise for her conducting of the Hungarian composer’s work.  A review in The Times of London noted that Alsop’s “taut performance” of the Miraculous Mandarin “missed nothing of the work’s violence. A vigorous Alsop pushed the tempo hard at the end; she also conducted with flexibility and feeling for Bartók’s colourful orchestration.”

Alsop’s Miraculous Mandarin is only the latest in a string of important projects that she has undertaken with the record company.  Her Brahms Symphony No. 1 CD, released in February, was described by Adam Baer in the Los Angeles Times as “Brahms that flows and sings . . . a sumptuously lyrical rendition.”  Her recent recording of John Adams Shaker Loops was a Gramophone Editor’s Choice and was also cited by Richard Scheinin of the San Jose Mercury News as one of the best CDs of 2004.  Alsop also narrated the Naxos Audiobook The Story of Classical Music, which was nominated for a Best Spoken Word Album for Children GRAMMY Award.   

In recording The Miraculous Mandarin, Alsop brings to Naxos the music from a notorious one-act pantomime that caused such an uproar at its première in Cologne in 1926 it was banned immediately and not seen again in the composer’s lifetime.  It tells the story of three thugs who use a beautiful prostitute to ensnare a succession of men, whom they then brutally rob.  Bartók’s score reflects the menace of the story; he himself described the music as ‘hellish’.

The Dance Suitewas commissioned to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the union of Buda and Pest as the Hungarian capital.  First performed in November 1923, its clear-cut manner must have seemed out of keeping with Bartók’s musical thinking up to that time, but the fusing of a range of folk characteristics was to have increasing significance in the works that followed.  Completing the program are the Hungarian Pictures, assembled in 1931 from piano music composed over two decades earlier, during the period of Bartók’s first intensive involvement with folk-music research.

BÉLA BARTÓK (1881-1945): The Miraculous Mandarin, Op. 19 (Complete Ballet);  Dance Suite; Hungarian Pictures

Marin Alsop

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra


Also available on SACD and DVD-A


Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group