Ernest Bloch - Music for Viola and Orchestra

Budapest Symphony Orchestra, Hungary.

Ernest Bloch - Music for Viola and Orchestra

NAXOS International, June, 2013


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Superior evocative features
The orchestral version presented here by conductor Smolij has superior evocative features, and the performers must be credited with having grasped the exotic character of Bloch’s inspiration, far exceeding the previous records known to me.
Ricardo Cassini, Mondadori, Rome, Italy
An excellent disc
Bloch’s Viola Suite, Chinese finale and all, is arguably the best work for viola and orchestra in the repertoire. It is melodically haunting, emotionally wide-ranging, thematically integrated—despite being called a “suite” it’s really a full-blown four-movement symphony—and gorgeously scored. This performance, by superb viola soloist Hong-Mei Xiao, is as fine as any on disc. Kudos also to Mariusz Smolij and the Budapest players who accompany with evident sympathy and who, assisted in no small degree by Naxos’ engineers, keep the orchestral parts clear and well-balanced. An excellent disc.
David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com, Portland, Maine, USA
Success on all counts
Whatever your thoughts on the “Jewish” or “Eastern” nature of the music, you can’t deny that it is well-crafted, drenched in color, and worthy of further exposure. at Xiao is a simply wonderful player, fully attuned to the various moods of the composer… well balanced against the Budapest forces, who clearly enjoy the rich tonal palette on display. This project is about a neglected composer’s writing for a neglected instrument and has to be considered a success on all counts. Awesome.
Brian Wigman, Classical Net, California, USA
My fervent recommendation
If I would commend the disc for the viola playing, I would then go on to say that it is one of the most idiomatic and colorful orchestral discs of Bloch I have yet encountered. Add the excellence of the recording and you have my fervent recommendation.
David Denton, David’s Review Corner, U.K.