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   3 Piano Concertos. Rhapsody. Concerto For Orchestra



Год издания : 1957/1961

Компания звукозаписи : Deutsche Grammophon

Время звучания : 2:18:46

К-во CD : 2

Код CD : bartok gdo2 427 410 (2CD)

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CD, стоящие на полке рядом : Classics (Symphony)      

Mono recording. Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin

============ from the cover ==========

Rhapsody

In the Rhapsody, though, he is still there, and the boldly national style is that of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies, which he would soon come to identify as gypsy in origin and not Magyar at all. The two-movement form, with an Adagio followed by a Poco allegretto in the csardas manner, is that of the verbunkos, the characteristic dance of Hungarian gypsy musicians, and the music makes play with the languid, soulful ornaments and other cliches of the Hungarian style as understood by Liszt and Brahms; there is also a great deal of Liszt, of course, in the splendidly grand writing for the piano. Moreover, the work's structural integration - the derivation of the Allegretto's main theme from a motif introduced in the Adagio, and the recapitulation of the Adagio at the close - may owe something to the example of Liszt's sonata and concertos.

However, Bartok at the age of 23 was already a mature composer, if not quite the mature composer he was to become, and the dominant voice in the Rhapsody is that of his own symphonic poem Kossuth, his early Violin Sonata and his Piano Quintet. There are even traces of a far-distant future. Some passages, such as the contrapuntal episodes in the Adagio, look way ahead to The Miraculous Mandarin and beyond, and there is a moment when the amplification of the trivial allegro theme reaches towards the intense irony of the Fifth and Sixth Quartets. Bartok's next work, the Scherzo op. 2 for piano and orchestra (also 1904), goes even further in these directions, but curiously he never played that piece or had it published, whereas the Rhapsody was published in three different versions: two for piano solo (one of which consists of the Adagio alone), and the present one for piano and orchestra, which was probably finished before the end of 1904 and certainly by August 1905, when Bartok gave the first performance, in Paris during the Rubinstein Competition, which he entered (unsuccessfully) as both composer and pianist. He also continued to perform it occasionally (the last time was in 1936), though the revival of his playing career in the 1920s brought the need for new, more representative works.

Piano Concerto no. 1.

That was the need fulfilled by the First Piano Concerto (1926). There had been a hiatus partly because of the war, but also partly because Bartok seems to have enjoyed accompanying violinists more than performing as a soloist: there were many outstanding Hungarian violinists with whom he was able to work (including Jelly d'Aranyi, Imre Waldbauer, Joseph Szigeti and Zoltan Szekely), and it was with them, and with his two violin sonatas of 1921 -22, that he began touring again. However, in 1926 he returned to the piano in earnest as a solo instrument, composing not only the First Concerto but also the Sonata, the suite Out of Doors, the Nine Little Pieces and the first instalments of Mikrokosmos. He gave the first performance of the Concerto, with Furtwangler conducting, in Frankfurt on 1 July 1927, and played the work again during his first American tour the next winter.

In the 20 years since the Rhapsody he had discovered a new self and a new piano, both partly through the influence of Stravinsky, whose Les noces must have encouraged him on the road from his own Allegro barbaro to the works of 1926. In particular, the outer movements of the concerto are heavy with ostinatos, with reiterations, with complex chords that make a noise effect, and with scales thickly doubled in thirds in the bass. The new percussive affinities of the piano become explicit in the central Andante, where the soloist is at first accompanied only by timpani, drums and cymbals in a mood of quiet nocturnal signalling: a motif of three repeated quavers (eighth-notes) is the main stimulus to the dialogues. The middle section brings a change with a weave of woodwind polyphony over the piano and percussion, and then there is a return to the manner of the opening, joined finally by trombone glissandos to erupt the music into its finale. Absent altogether from the slow movement, the strings are used in the others predominantly as a chordal mass, with melodic lines being taken mainly by the wind.

In Bartok as in Stravinsky, the view of the piano as a percussion instrument goes along with a mechanical sort of rhythm. The first movement, in sonata form with an introduction, is harnessed to a quaver pulse in 2/4 time, and, as in the Sonata, there is a 3:4 ratio of speeds between the first and last movements. Correspondingly, the soloist is not the heroic combatant of the Rhapsody but more the driving force of a musical engine, even though Bartok adheres to the Beethovenian image of the concerto as a big public work. His description of the piece as being "in E minor" is perhaps hard to take at face value, but certainly the harmony is clearer than in the Sonata, E minor being the focus for a variety of modes, and modal scales providing much of the material for the outer movements.

Piano Concerto no. 2

By the end of 1928 Bartok had played his First Concerto not only in Germany and the United States but also in Prague, Warsaw, Vienna, Budapest and the Netherlands. Now the evident need was for a successor, which he wrote between October 1930 and October 1931, and which he again introduced in Frankfurt, on 23 January 1933, this time with Hans Rosbaud conducting (it was the composer's last concert in Germany). But though the Second Concerto followed the first so swiftly, it is much clearer in style, and its G major tonality is much less sullied by chromatic adjacencies and bi-tonality: the key is bravely declared by the opening trumpet tune, which cheekily speeds up the theme from the finale of Stravinsky's Firebird. Also, the counterpoint is now a counterpoint of lines rather than of blocks, and suggests the importance to Bartok of the Baroque: the first movement even strays directly into the world of J.S. Bach in an extraordinary act of musical visiting.

In this first movement, as in the slow movement of the First Concerto, the strings are absent (there was again a Stravinskian model in the Concerto for Piano and Wind), so that their entry in the Adagio is all the more awesome, when they come in to play a chorale of piled-up fifths that alternates with a duet for piano and timpani (once more the soloist is allied with the percussion). But the Adagio is not the whole story of the central movement, for within it there is a scherzo for soloist accompanied, for the first time in the work, by full orchestra. The entire work thus has an ABCBA symmetry, a favourite Bart6kian form to be found also in the Fourth and Fifth Quartets, and in the Concerto for Orchestra. The symmetry even comes right to the surface when the rondo finale remembers themes and textures from the first movement.

Concerto for Orchestra

Bartok played the Second Concerto, as he had the First, throughout Europe, from Budapest to Birmingham, but the threat and then the outbreak of war made it unlikely that another would be required. The immediate successor to the two piano concertos was rather the Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion (1937), which in 1940, newly arrived in the United States, Bartok orchestrated to make a double concerto. In another sense, though, the Second Piano Concerto leads directly to the Concerto for Orchestra: Bartok had kept the element of display traditional in the concerto, but he had objectified it, so that in the brass canons and the orchestral prestos of the former work it is the music itself and not the soloist that is put on display. Hence the inevitability, almost, of a concerto in which there is no soloist but ample opportunity to show off orchestral and creative virtuosity.

According to a note on the score, the Concerto for Orchestra was written between 15 August and 8 October 1943, though apparently Bartok drew on some music he had sketched the previous year for a ballet. The element of showing off, which proceeds not from exhibitionism so much as from a wish to make musical processes self-explanatory, begins at once, in the slow introduction to the sonata-form first movement, where the instrumental and harmonic materials are assembled in full view of the audience. First the cellos and basses in octaves play a pentatonic theme whose intervals are all fourths and major seconds. This then grows in three successive stages, but still with fourths and major seconds as its only intervals, and then at the end of the introduction an accompaniment figure, a scale rising through a tritone, is gradually speeded up to provide the opening for the allegro's first subject (cf. the Rhapsody), this again emphasizing fourths and major seconds. Further derivatives of the same pattern include the theme that eventually gives the music its decisive close in F major; the second subject is characteristically anchored to a tritone dominant, B, but in keeping with the new harmonic clarity of this work it is repeated in octaves (by clarinets) and triads (by flutes and oboes) after its first presentation by solo oboe.

These harmonic games provide a hidden foretaste of the ensuing "Giuocodellecoppie", where pairs of wind instruments play at different intervals: bassoons in minor sixths, oboes in minor thirds, clarinets in minor sevenths, flutes in fifths, trumpets in major seconds. After a central chorale, the games are repeated in a more elaborate context to end in overt D major. But then they suddenly seem only an interruption, since the ensuing "Elegia" begins with a return to the very opening music of the work, which it extends in a different direction to make a massive amplification of the peasant dirge, a genre with which Bartok had identified himself more than 30 years before in a set of piano pieces.

The high B at the end of the elegy is pulled down two octaves and transferred from piccolo to strings to start the "Intermezzo interrotto", where the Allegretto for woodwinds is interrupted first by a sumptuous melody in G with changing metres, then by a banal reduction of this theme to a scale fragment that Shostakovich had made imposing use of in his Seventh Symphony (1941). Fritz Reiner had made Bartok listen to a broadcast of the work: "When it was over he never said whether he liked it or not. He was a taciturn man." But he breaks his silence here, before returning to his own broad theme. Then the last movement in F, the ultimate and biggest of Bartok's 2/4 finales, wields a variety of dances and canonic episodes to display the mastery of players and composer.

Piano Concerto no. 3

The Romantic virtuoso of the Rhapsody had become a Baroque primus inter pares in the First and Second Concertos (with their concertinos of percussion and wind), and had then disappeared altogether in the Concerto for Orchestra. Nor does the composer as central figure return in the Third Piano Concerto, since this was a work Bartok wrote in 1945 as an insurance policy for his wife Ditta, knowing that he was soon to die (he never appeared in public again after the first performance of the Concerto for Orchestra, given by Koussevitzky in Boston on 1 December 1944), but not knowing how popular some of his works were soon to become. When he died, on 26 September 1945, the work was complete except for the orchestration of the final 17 bars, which Tibor Serly undertook.

Like the First Piano Concerto, the Third is in E, but a wholly different sort of E, the harmony being more smoothly triadic even than in the Concerto for Orchestra. The first movement has a main theme in E major and modulates to the correct dominant of B major before presenting a second subject in G. There is a development, moving up a whole-tone ladder of keys, and a recapitulation that is hardly more than a decorated variant of the exposition, returning all the material to E. In the slow movement the connections are with the Second Piano Concerto, in the ternary form and in the dialogue of piano and strings that occupies the outer sections (though one might think too of Beethoven's G major Concerto). The faster middle section is a unique blend of scherzo and night music, but also unique is the marking "Adagio religioso" for the framing music. There is no other evidence that Bartok ever wavered from the adamant atheism he expressed in a letter to Stefi Geyer in 1907: the marking is perhaps evidence that, in writing for his wife, he had placed a distance between himself and his work, that this was intended as a posthumous piece. Even in the finale, where the rondo music evaporates twice to give place to fugal episodes, he was no longer thinking through his own fingers.

-Paul Griffiths


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   1 01 Introduzione. Andante Non Troppo - Allegro Vivace         0:09:42 Concerto For Orchestra
   1 02 Giuoco Delle Coppie. Allegretto Scherzando         0:06:31 -"-
   1 03 Elegia. Andante, Non Troppo         0:07:12 -"-
   1 04 Intermezzo Interrotto. Allegretto         0:04:51 -"-
   1 05 Finale. Pesante - Presto         0:09:02 -"-
   1 06 Allegro         0:09:51 Piano Concerto No. 2
   1 07 Adagio - Presto - Adagio         0:12:19 -"-
   1 08 Allegro Molto         0:06:14 -"-
   2 01 Adagio Molto         0:12:58 Rhapsody For Piano And Orchestra
   2 02 Poco Allegretto         0:10:41 -"-
   2 03 Allegro Moderato - Allegro         0:09:13 Konzert Fur Klavier Und Orchester Nr. 1
   2 04 Andante         0:08:36 -"-
   2 05 Allegro Molto         0:07:21 -"-
   2 06 Allegretto         0:07:15 Konzert Fur Klavier Und Orchester Nr. 3
   2 07 Adagio Religioso         0:10:15 -"-
   2 08 Allegro Vivace         0:06:45 -"-

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