Pentatone Exclusive
Album of the Year 2023

Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra

Karina Canellakis, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra

(3 customer reviews)
(3 press reviews)
Original Recording Format: DXD
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2023 NativeDSD Album of the Year – Classical Orchestral

Karina Canellakis offers the first fruit of her exclusive Pentatone collaboration with a recording of Bartók’s 4 Orchestral Pieces and Concerto for Orchestra, together with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, of which she is the Chief Conductor.

The 4 Orchestral Pieces have a strong affinity with the stage works Duke Bluebeard’s Castle and The Wooden Prince, conceived in the same period. The Concerto for Orchestra is one of Bartók’s final works, full of folk tunes, and utterly colorful and virtuosic for all the instruments. As such, it’s an ideal piece to showcase the congeniality between the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and its star Chief Conductor.

Internationally acclaimed for her emotionally charged performances, technical command and interpretive depth, Karina Canellakis has become one of the most in-demand conductors of her generation. She makes her Pentatone debut as Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra that returns to the label.

Featured in blog post Notes on Recent Finds, No. 9 – Endless Bounty from NativeDSD by music reviewer Rushton Paul.

Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
Karina Canellakis, Conductor


Please note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
4 Orch Pieces I Preludio Moderato
4 Orch Pieces II Scherzo Allegro
4 Orch Pieces III Intermezzo Moderato
4 Orch Pieces IV Marcia funebre Maestoso
Concerto For Orchestra I Introduzione Andante non troppo
Concerto For Orchestra II Presentando le coppie Allegretto scherzando
Concerto For Orchestra III Elegia Andante non troppo
Concerto For Orchestra IV Intermezzo interrotto Allegretto
Concerto For Orchestra V Finale Pesante Presto

Total time: 01:03:10

Additional information





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Assistant Engineers

Reinis Bagāts & Wirre de Vries



Original Recording Format


Everett Porter

Recording Engineer

Everett Porter

Recording Location

This album was recorded live at the Muziekcentrum van de Omroep, Hilversum, Netherlands in July 2022

Release DateApril 28, 2023

Press reviews

Positive Feedback

eautiful and extraordinary. These were my first reactions on listening to this new recording by Karina Canellakis in her recently appointed position as Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. As I continued listening, I found her fully exploring the extensive range of emotions to be found in these two orchestral works by Bartok. But her approach is not to hit one over the head. Instead, she slides in from the edges, sneaks up on you, then brilliantly clobbers you with full orchestral impact or with dry, sly wit—as the music may demand. And then she may completely surprise with the most beautiful lyricism one may hope to hear. And this is Bartok! In a full ration of different dimensions to these compositions.

This album surprised the dickens out of me—and delightfully so. Canellakis is off to a tremendous start in her conductorial role with the NRPO.

5 Finger Review 10 out of 5

Karina Canellakis, lauded for her emotionally charged performances and technical command, is a leading conductor of her generation. Serving as Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor for both the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin (RSB), Canellakis has worked with top orchestras worldwide since winning the Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award in 2016. A virtuoso violinist-turned-conductor under Sir Simon Rattle’s guidance, she made history as the first woman to conduct both the First Night of the BBC Proms and the Nobel Prize Concert. Born in New York City, Canellakis has received critical acclaim for her concert performances and opera productions. She will be an Artist-in-Residence at Vienna’s Musikverein in the 2023-24 season.

Canellakis is making her Pentatone debut with Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra, while the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra returns to the label following their 2018 participation in Gordon Getty’s Beauty Comes Dancing. The recording’s program contains Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and four Orchestral Pieces. The Concerto for Orchestra, one of Bartók’s final works, is known for its vibrant orchestrations, virtuosic writing, and creative use of folk melodies. The four Orchestral Pieces strongly connect with Bartók’s stage works Duke Bluebeard’s Castle and The Wooden Prince, conceived during the same period. Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra highlights the remarkable synergy between Canellakis and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra.

Opening the recording is the first movement of Béla Bartók’s 4 Orchestral Pieces, Sz. 51, “Preludio. Moderato,” setting thekarina-canellakis-1 stage for the rest of the recording and demonstrating Canellakis’ approach to the intriguing introduction of the composition that builds mystery with captivating sounds of modern harmony and the various orchestral colors and textures. Canellakis’ use of dynamics and flowing tempos bring out the composer’s unique style combining elements of impressionism and modernism. The movement is beautifully recorded, and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra’s skillful performance and response to Canellakis’ direction make for an impressive opening performance and introduction to the recording.

The fifth and final movement, “V. Finale. Pesante – Presto” from Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, Sz. 116 serves as a powerful and exciting ending to this delightful program. Canellakis’ concept, for its innovative orchestration, captivating melodies, and engaging structure is dynamic and brings out all the energy and textures wonderfully. The performance solidifies Canellakis’ imagination and directing concept for one of Bartók’s most enduring and celebrated compositions. Her tempo choices are lovely, and her pushing and pulling of phrases and the dynamic peaks and valleys are thrilling. Furthermore, her shaping of the composition brings out the various climaxes, the virtuosity of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, and the various sections of the orchestra, as it requires exceptional technical skill and precision from the performers.

Karina Canellakis’ Pentatone debut, Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra, is a triumph success that showcases her exceptional musicianship, understanding, and leadership in directing the outstanding capabilities of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. Through her masterful command of tempo, dynamics, and phrasing, Canellakis brings life to Bartók’s richly textured works, revealing the full breadth of their beauty and complexity.

This recording stands as a testament to Canellakis’ status as a leading conductor of her generation and further cements her place in the international classical music scene. The captivating performances and superb recording quality make this album an absolute must-listen for Bartók enthusiasts and newcomers, offering a genuinely engaging and unforgettable listening experience.

Presto Music

This is the Dutch orchestra’s first recording with their new Principal Conductor, and it’s a cracker.

Bartók was a key part of Canellakis’s repertoire in her previous career as a violinist. Her long-standing affection for his music resonates loud and clear in performances that balance high adrenaline with a warm lyricism that often gets short-changed in this music.

The seldom-recorded Four Pieces come off especially well. Not least the fiendish Scherzo, where the precision of the playing in every section is a marvel.

3 reviews for Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra

    WOW! A masterpiece combination of music, conducting, orchestral quality, a fine hall, and one of the most-transparent and well balanced recordings I’ve ever heard. And I’ve been listening for about 65 years.

    The ‘4 Orchestral Pieces’ are a delight. The ‘Concerto’ is simply wonderful.

    Ms. Canellakis is an excellent find. I thank EVERY person who was involved with this.

    Outstanding performance and sound quality.
    I own 11 versions, this one is now my favorite.

    Excellent recording.

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