Recorded 24-25 February and 9 June 1986, No. 1 Studio, Abbey Road, London.
## 1- 4 - Bela Bartok Sonata for violin solo, Sz. 117, BB 124 (edited by Yehudi Menhuin) (1986)
This piece came at a time when Bartok was writing more direct, less aurally challenging compositions like the Third Piano Concerto (1945) and Concerto for Orchestra (1943; rev. 1945). Moreover, any work for solo violin is reduced to certain limitations of sound, no matter how complex a scale it is conceived on, no matter how lofty the composer's goals are. In this sonata, perhaps more than in any other chamber work of his, Bartok relies on melody and turns away from complex rhythms, fully aware that this kind of solo genre must be built upon essentials.
He gradually reduced the level of complexity in the work as it proceeded from movement to movement. Not that it is substantially complex at the outset; indeed, even the first movement is relatively straightforward, though it is formally elaborate and the longest of the four panels. Inspired by Bach's great chaconne from Partita for Violin No. 2, BWV 1004, it begins in a serious vein and carries the marking Tempo di ciaccona. A solemn chaconne theme is presented at the outset and another melody, this one played in sixths, is next introduced. A third one, of a more flowing nature than the previous two, ensues. There follow a fairly elaborate development section and a varied reprise.
The second movement is marked Fuga: Risoluto, non troppo vivo. Obviously this is a fugue, but not the kind one would expect for an essentially monodic instrument, for here we have a four-part fugue! Bartok presents a theme and its inversion in various episodes, often simultaneously. While this description might suggest a complex listening experience, the music is quite easily grasped throughout.
The third movement, marked Melodia: Adagio, presents an attractive, if somewhat sober theme with no harmonies. Its beauty and effectiveness are undeniable in this relatively simple scheme. The middle section is brief and breaks with the monodic character of the main material. The overall mood of this movement is one that contains a mixture of serenity and ethereality.
The finale, marked Presto, begins with a theme played in perpetuum mobile style. But the mood is mysterious, the violin making gossamer sounds in its rush forward. This material alternates with a couple of high-spirited dance tunes throughout the movement. The structure of the finale resembles that of a Rondo, and can loosely be classed as such. While the first movement offers many challenges to the soloist, the finale contains its share of difficulties, too, and visually strikes audiences as the most virtuosic.
A typical performance of Bartok's Solo Violin Sonata lasts from 20 to 24 minutes. The work was commissioned by Yehudi Menuhin, who premiered it.
## 5- 9 - Edward "Duke" Ellington - Black, Brown and Beige Suite: Mainly Black (1986)
The evidence is that Duke Ellington intended "Black, Brown, and Beige" to be his major work. It was one of the jazz master's first efforts at an extended composition, a jazz suite lasting nearly an hour, several movements in three large sections called "Black, " "Brown, " and Beige. It was all conceived within the sound of his own famous jazz band. He recorded the work in its original form in 1944, and often performed sections of it in his concerts well into the 1960s. He permitted it to be published as a full score in 1963, the only such extended work allowed to be so treated. Maurice Peress met Ellington soon after than and proposed that he be allowed to arrange it for symphony orchestra. Peress and Ellington selected these three movements of the entire work's seven to make a suite lasting about eighteen minutes.
"Work Song" depicts heavy labor, perhaps chopping wood. The beat is heavy, like an axe falling, and the back-beat clearly is a grunt of exertion. This evolves into a song, and a trombone solo that requires that the orchestra's soloist be familiar with the distinctive sound of Sam Nanton and be able to imitate it convincingly. "Come Sunday, " said Duke, represented a group of Black folks standing outside a church they could not enter, listening to the music and conducting their own musical praise service. There is a notable saxophone solo; once again, the orchestra's saxophone player must know the style of Ellington's saxophonist Johnny Hodges. There is a violin variation on what in the original version is a trumpet solo; this was originally improvised by Ray Nance in a performance of the whole piece. Interestingly, Peress's choice of instrument here pays tribute to Nance, for that great trumpeter actually received his first training as a violinist. The final movement of Peress' suite is a carefree number called "Light" which is a variation on the "Work Song." The orchestral suite ends with a final quotation of the "Come Sunday" theme, because Ellington in 1969 applied his composer's instincts and realized that this gives the three-movement symphonic suite a satisfying close.