- The Miraculous Mandarin, suite for orchestra, Sz. 73a, BB 82 (Op. 19)
In one of his last concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra on their tour of the United States, Valery Gergiev conducted a program of exciting modernist works that have tremendous popular appeal. Two of the pieces, Béla Bartók's "Piano Concerto No. 3" and Igor Stravinsky's "The Firebird," were performed complete and took up the bulk of the program, while the suite from Bartók's "The Miraculous Mandarin" and the excerpt "Montagues and Capulets" from Sergey Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" served respectively as introduction and encore. Yefim Bronfman joined Gergiev and the orchestra in a bright and resilient performance of the "Piano Concerto No. 3" that contrasted well with the dark, brooding tone of "The Miraculous Mandarin" and the lushness of "The Firebird." While this recording lacks the edge and ferocity of many of Gergiev's best performances, it reflects a certain ease and familiarity he seems to have developed with the orchestra, so that may account for the relaxed feeling of this concert. This double CD package from LSO Live presents the pieces without breaks between the discs, and the sound of the live recording captures the musical details with clarity and is reasonably free of extraneous noises.