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Mastery of orchestration

The music of Antal Doráti -
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'Sharon Bezaly's tone is gorgeous ...'

Antal Doráti: Sette Pezzi, Night Music, American Serenade. © 2002 BIS Records AB

Antal Doráti was once the most recorded conductor in the world, and he looked the part. I met him briefly at an after-concert reception while he was the principal conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. It wasn't hard to pick him out. He was the only distinguished looking gentleman wearing a black cape with a scarlet lining. Since I thought, and still do, Bernstein not withstanding, that he'd made the best recording of Aaron Copland's third symphony (with the Minneapolis), I suggested he program it for the Detroit Orchestra. He paused, considered and said, 'Yes, we may do that'. Perhaps coincidentally, since Copland was a friend, he conducted it two years later and it was worth the wait.

While many of Doráti's recordings as a conductor are still in the catalog, there are few examples of his work as a composer. That makes this release all the more welcome. From what I'd read over the years of his link to Bartók and my experience with the music of most other composers better known as conductors, I was curious, but anticipating something dryly academic with over allegiance to Bartók. Wrong on both counts. The music is melodic, warm, filled with wonderful color effects -- and -- even in Night Music would never be mistaken for Bartók. Nor anyone else, though to provide a hint of the sound, at various times I was reminded of Ravel, Prokofiev or the American composer Morton Gould. That may not help much, but at least you know Stockhausen isn't in the picture.

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Copyright © 28 September 2003 Ron Bierman, San Diego, USA


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