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Tony Haywood
MusicWeb International, June 2008

…Alsop does a very fine job of coaxing the maximum mystery and atmosphere from this underrated score, and given the fine audio quality, one can’t really quibble.

Rob Cowan
Gramophone, May 2008

…Alsop and her orchestra do justice to Bartók’s most overtly romantic large-scale score; it’s a performance that will surely appeal beyond the ranks of Bartók devotees to balletomanes generally, not to mention lovers of fin de siècle musical excess. © 2008 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Malcolm Hayes
Classic FM, May 2008

The Wooden Prince (1917) is an epic orchestral narrative: he himself described it as a ‘symphonic poem for dancing’. The bizarre story concerns a prince who falls in love with a princess in a magic forest and attracts her interest with a dancing puppet version of himself. Bartók’s music blends some very mild modernism with enormous, late-Romantic orchestral firepower—clearly this is a young master-composer at work—and the renowned Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under the skilled hands of Marin Alsop brings an impressively strong response to his demands. The recorded acoustic is a touch over¬≠spacious and boomy—but better that, in a huge score like this, than too tight.

Michael Southern
Pittwater Life, April 2008

Marin Alsop is proving herself to be a catholic conductor, particularly of the European composers, and it is fair to say that she has not yet delivered a bad performance, be it of Orff, Brahms or now Bartok. Under her guidance, the Bournemouth orchestra is emerging as one of the finer British orchestra and this performance is testament to that. It is a full-blooded approach that positively glows.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2008

This is the performance that The Wooden Prince has long needed to take it into the standard concert repertoire. Though composed in the same period as Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, it stylistically belongs to a previous generation, the opening reminiscent of Wagner with the influence of Richard Strauss ever present. The ballet tells the fairy story of a forest that comes to life, and after many trials and tribulations eventually brings two young lovers together. It calls for a large orchestra to create many massive climatic moments, before we come to the final Long Kiss of ecstasy, a moment that could have come from the music of the young Schoenberg. Maybe its neglect was brought about by Bartok who failed to promote his theatre music after the lack of response to Bluebeard’s Castle. Creating a concert suite from the ballet proved unsuccessful, with Marin Alsop and the Bournemouth Symphony having sensibly opted for the complete ballet. The result makes all previous recordings superfluous, for not only does she perfectly capture the changing moods of the ballet, but also has the benefit of one of the best orchestral recordings I have heard in recent times. The orchestra are in stunning form, the brass blazing in the cataclysmic passages, and woodwind enchanting in the shimmering passages with their impressionist haze. There is still a long way to go, but I guess come December it will be one of my best discs of the year.

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