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Bartók: Mikrokosmos (Complete) / Jenö Jandó


Release Date: 08/29/2006 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8557821-22   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Béla Bartók
Performer:  Jénö JandóBalázs SzokolayTamara Takács
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 28 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The idea of listening to the six books of Bartók’s Mikrokosmos in one sitting may not be everyone’s idea of fun—indeed, it may be that only reviewers, mad dogs, and Englishmen would contemplate it—but it is nevertheless a worthwhile task. Written in between 1926 and1939, the books progressively increase in their technical demands over the course of 153 pieces. The result is that only those of the last book (or maybe the last two books) tend to crop up on recital programs.

The rest are, it has to be admitted, for home listening. The first book begins with “Six Unison Melodies,” and despite the unfriendly title, they exhibit a certain meditative quality. But the ear tires quite quickly as the pieces pass (listening to
Read more No. 16, “Parallel motion with change of position,” is like eavesdropping on someone in a practice room!). Rather bizarrely, I picked up a sense of loneliness on the composer’s part as time went on. The highlights of Book 2 are the “Meditation” (No. 43) and “Dialogue” (No. 65). The latter features Tamara Takács (who has recorded with Jandó on various other occasions for Naxos), who is quite characterful.

One of the reasons for this set making for tiring listening stems from Jandó’s habit of turning his tone to martellato at anything above mf. He can be charming, though (No. 69, “Study in Chords”). The Bach homage (No. 79) is fairly romanticized.

Musically, Book 4 (which opens the second disc) is more interesting in purely musical terms. The opening “Notturno” is a lovely little piece, and the composer’s interest in matters ethnomusicological is clearly audible in the two pieces in Bulgarian rhythms (Nos. 113 and 115). But when we arrive at Book 5, it becomes clearer that a quantum compositional leap has occurred. Both of the final two books can be appreciated as stand-alone entities. Jandó implies he knows this in his explosive handling of the first piece (No. 122, “Chords together and in opposition”), but his account of the simply titled “Boating” (No. 125) floats on a sea of anonymity. The highlight of this set is the “New Hungarian Folksong” (with Tamara Tákacs).

Finally, the Sixth Book. Jandó’s “From the Diary of a Fly” (No. 142) is light and staccato, his night music (No. 14) very atmospheric. The group of “Six Bulgarian Dances” that closes Mikrokosmos works with a sort of cumulative energy that is most effective.

Neither of Jandó’s helpers is accorded a biography in the booklet. Their contribution is, it has to be said, small. Balázs Szokolay ably plays his small parts in Books 2 and 3, but of the two, it is Tamara Tákacz who makes the stronger impression. Zoltan Kocsis on Philips remains in a different league in this repertoire (it was Volume 5 of his Bartók series); Jandó remains very much a reliable guide to the terrain.

FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

1.
Mikrokosmos, Sz 107: Book 1 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926-1939; Budapest, Hungary 
Venue:  Phoenix Studio, Budapest, Hungary 
Length: 23 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Notes: Phoenix Studio, Budapest, Hungary (02/07/2005 - 02/10/2005) 
2.
Mikrokosmos, Sz 107: Book 2 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Balázs Szokolay (Piano), Tamara Takács (Mezzo Soprano), Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926-1939; Budapest, Hungary 
Venue:  Phoenix Studio, Budapest, Hungary 
Length: 21 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Language: Hungarian 
Notes: Phoenix Studio, Budapest, Hungary (02/07/2005 - 02/10/2005) 
3.
Mikrokosmos, Sz 107: Book 3 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Balázs Szokolay (Piano), Tamara Takács (Mezzo Soprano), Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926-1939; Budapest, Hungary 
Venue:  Phoenix Studio, Budapest, Hungary 
Length: 27 Minutes 36 Secs. 
Language: Hungarian 
Notes: Phoenix Studio, Budapest, Hungary (02/07/2005 - 02/10/2005) 
4.
Mikrokosmos, Sz 107: Book 4 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926-1939; Budapest, Hungary 
Venue:  Phoenix Studio, Budapest, Hungary 
Length: 27 Minutes 59 Secs. 
Notes: Phoenix Studio, Budapest, Hungary (04/27/2005 - 04/30/2005) 
5.
Mikrokosmos, Sz 107: Book 5 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano), Tamara Takács (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926-1939; Budapest, Hungary 
Venue:  Phoenix Studio, Budapest, Hungary 
Length: 20 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Language: Hungarian 
Notes: Phoenix Studio, Budapest, Hungary (04/27/2005 - 04/30/2005) 
6.
Mikrokosmos, Sz 107: Book 6 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926-1939; Budapest, Hungary 
Venue:  Phoenix Studio, Budapest, Hungary 
Length: 26 Minutes 55 Secs. 
Notes: Phoenix Studio, Budapest, Hungary (04/27/2005 - 04/30/2005) 

Sound Samples

Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 1. 6 Unison Melodies I
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 2: 6 Unison Melodies II (versions A and B)
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 3. 6 Unison Melodies III
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 4. 6 Unison Melodies IV
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 5. 6 Unison Melodies V
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 6. 6 Unison Melodies VI
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 7. Dotted Notes
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 8. Repetition I
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 9. Syncopation I
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 10. With Alternate Hands
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 11. Parallel Motion
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 12. Reflection
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 13. Change of Position
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 14. Question and Answer
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 15. Village Song
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 16. Parallel Motion with Change of Position
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 17. Contrary Motion
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 18. 4 Unison Melodies I
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 19. 4 Unison Melodies II
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 20. 4 Unison Melodies III
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 21. 4 Unison Melodies IV
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 22. Imitation and Counterpoint
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 23. Imitation and Inversion I
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 24. Pastorale
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 25. Imitation and Inversion II
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 26. Repetition II
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 27. Syncopation II
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 28. Canon at the Octave
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 29. Imitation Reflected
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 30. Canon at the Lower Fifth
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 31. Dance in Canon Form
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 32. In Dorian Mode
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 33. Slow Dance
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 34. In Phrygian Mode
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 35. Chorale
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 36. Free Canon
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 37. In Lydian Mode
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 38. Staccato and Legato I
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 39. Staccato and Legato (Canon)
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 40. In Yugoslav Style
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 41. Melody with Accompaniment
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 42. Accompaniment in Broken Triads
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 43. In Hungarian Style (version A: 2 pianos; version B: piano solo)
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 44. Contrary Motion II (2 pianos)
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 45. Meditation
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 46. Increasing - Diminishing
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 47. County Fair
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 48. In Mixolydian Mode
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 49. Crescendo - Diminuendo
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 50. Minuet
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 51. Waves
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 52. Unison Divided
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 53. In Transylvanian Style
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 54. Chromatics
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 55. Triplets in Lydian Mode (2 pianos)
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 56. Melody in Tenths
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 57. Accents
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 58. In Oriental Style
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 59. Major and Minor
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 60. Canon with Sustained Notes
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 61. Pentatonic Melody
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 62. Minor Sixths in Parallel Motion
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 63. Buzzing
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 64. Line against Point (versions A and B)
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 65. Dialogue (with voice)
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: No. 66. Melody Divided
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 67. Thirds against a Single Voice
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 68. Hungarian Dance (2 pianos)
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 69. Study in Chords
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 70. Melody against Double Notes
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 71. Thirds
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 72. Dragons' Dance
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 73. Sixths and Triads
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 74. Hungarian Matchmaking Son (versions A and B; version B with voice)
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 75. Triplets
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 76. In Three Parts
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 77. Little Study
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 78. Five-tone Scale
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 79. Hommage a Johann Sebastian Bach
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 80. Hommage a Robert Schumann
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 81. Wandering
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 82. Scherzo
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 83. Melody with Interruptions
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 84. Merriment
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 85. Broken Chords
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 86. Two Major Pentachords
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 87. Variations
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 88. Duet for Pipes
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 89. In Four Parts I
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 90. In Russian Style
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 91. Chromatic Invention I
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 92. Chromatic Invention II
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 93. In Four Parts II
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 94. Once Upon a Time...
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 95. Fox Song (versions A and B; version B with voice)
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 3: No. 96. Jolts
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 97. Notturno
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 98. Thumbs Under
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 99. Hands Crossing
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 100. In Folk Song Style
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 101. Diminished Fifth
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 102. Harmonics
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 103. Minor and Major
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 104. Wandering through the Keys (versions A and B)
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 105. Game (with two five-tone scales)
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 106. Children's Song
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 107. Melody in the Mist
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 108. Wrestling
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 109. From the Island of Bali
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 110. And the Sounds Clash and Clang...
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 111. Intermezzo
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 112. Variations on a Folk Tune
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 113. Bulgarian Rhythm I.
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 114. Theme and Inversion
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 115. Bulgarian Rhythm II
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 116. Song
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 117. Bourree
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 118. Triplets in 9/8 Time
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 119. Dance in 3/4 Time
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 120. Triads
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: No. 121. Two-part Study
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 5: No. 122. Chords Together and in Opposition
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 5: No. 123. Staccato and Legato II (versions A & B)
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 5: No. 124. Staccato
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 5: No. 125. Boating
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 5: No. 126. Change of Time
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 5: No. 127. New Hungarian Folk Song (with voice)
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 5: No. 128. Stamping Dance
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 5: No. 129. Alternating Thirds
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 5: No. 130. Village Joke
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 5: No. 131. Fourths
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 5: No. 132. Major Seconds Broken and Together
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 5: No. 133. Syncopation III
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 5: No. 134. Studies in Double Notes (versions A, B and C)
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 5: No. 135. Perpetuum mobile
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 5: No. 136. Whole-tone Scales
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 5: No. 137. Unison
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 5: No. 138. Bagpipe Music
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 5: No. 139. Jack-in-the-Box
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 6: No. 140. Free Variations
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 6: No. 141. Subject and Reflection
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 6: No. 142. From the Diary of a Fly
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 6: No. 143. Divided Arpeggios
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 6: No. 144. Minor Seconds, Major Sevenths
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 6: No. 145. Chromatic Invention III (versions A and B)
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 6: No. 146. Ostinato
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 6: No. 147. March
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 6: No. 148. 6 Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm I
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 6: No. 149. 6 Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm II
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 6: No. 150. 6 Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm III
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 6: No. 151. 6 Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm IV
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 6: No. 152. 6 Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm V
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 6: No. 153. 6 Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm VI

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