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Béla Bartók - A Portrait


Release Date: 04/24/2007 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8558200   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Béla Bartók
Performer:  Jénö JandóGyörgy PaukKálmán Berkes
Conductor:  Alexander RahbariMarin AlsopAntoni WitAndrás Ligeti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Belgian Radio And Television Philharmonic OrchestraBournemouth Symphony OrchestraPolish National Radio Symphony Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 34 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A highly satisfactory overview of, and introduction to, one of the 20th century’s most significant composers.

A veritable feast of Bartók, this very well-filled double-disc set serves a number of laudable functions. As an introduction to this fascinating composer’s music it pulls no punches, throwing in many ‘difficult’ movements from a variety of pieces as well as the kind of movements which are the recognised ‘soft centres’, such as the Adagio religioso from the Piano Concerto No.3. Even in such moments, Bartók’s music always has a slightly edgy, dangerous quality, which you feel could take it in almost any direction. Naxos has done well to include complete movements for the most part,
Read more the only real ‘bleeding chunk’ being a brief but dramatic excerpt from The Miraculous Mandarin
 
A central aspect of this issue is its educational value. Accompanied by an 80 page booklet, recognised music writer Stephen Johnson has but together an approachable but substantial essay on Bartók’s life and works. He shows the relationship of Bartók’s techniques up to the present, even including Frank Zappa among those touched by his interpretation of folk music and advances in rhythm and polyrhythm. After outlining the important events in Bartók’s life, Johnson explores the works which appear on the CDs in some detail, covering rhythmic patterns, orchestration, movement structure, proportion, symmetry, associations, influences and the like. His notes are often less technical than descriptive in parts, but with useful reference to tracks and the timings of the moments in question, the lay reader as much as the inquisitive professional can learn a great deal from sitting next to the CD player, synchronising the well-informed reading experience with the aural.
 
All of the tracks on this collection have been sourced from Naxos’s now extensive catalogue and stable of musicians, so on the level of a sampler one can gain impressions of releases such as the Vermeer Quartet’s not unimpressive complete set of Bartók’s String Quartets and Marin Alsop’s fairly recent, rich’n juicy recordings with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Jenö Jandó appears as soloist in the concerti, as well as in extracts from his 2005 recordings of the complete Mikrokosmos. I’ve always tended to think of Jandó as more of a workmanlike pianist than a genuinely inspirational one, but he and the Naxos label have been faithful to each other from the start: before the booklet designers had even found a font which could cope with the accents in his name, which were written in by hand! His reliable performances serve never less than adequately here. I’m not so keen on the foursquare approach he takes to some of the early Mikrokosmos, having always been taught to squeeze as much musicality out of them as possible, but his Allegro barbaro does have some nice witty rubati in the central section, he is a sensitive accompanist with György Pauk in the Rhapsody No.1 and makes a capable fist of the Concertos. Pauk also serves as solo violinist in the concerto movements for that instrument, and is an expressive advocate for the music. The only track where I turned up my nose was the first on disc 2, the movement from Contrasts, which, admittedly a notorious difficult combination, is low on intonational accuracy in a few parts, and has one of the musicians singing along audibly towards the end – I suspect Jandó, although the right-channel position of the offender is confusing if it is.
 
There are inevitably one or two blind spots. No fragment from Bluebeard’s Castle is possibly the greatest omission, although its lack of a place in the Naxos catalogue probably provides the answer to this. All things considered this is a highly satisfactory overview of and introduction to one of the 20 th century’s most significant composers, not to be missed by students, and a legitimate and useful way of approaching ‘This Modern Stuff’ for the uninitiated.
 
-- Dominy Clements, MusicWeb International  
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Works on This Recording

1. Out of Doors, Sz 81: no 3, Musettes by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; Budapest, Hungary 
Length: 2 Minutes 40 Secs. 
2. Mikrokosmos, Sz 107: Book 6, no 142, From the Diary of a Fly by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926-1939; Budapest, Hungary 
3. Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, Sz 106: 3rd movement, Adagio by Béla Bartók
Conductor:  Alexander Rahbari
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Belgian Radio And Television Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; Budapest, Hungary 
4. Hungarian Peasant Songs (15) for Piano, Sz 71 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1918; Budapest, Hungary 
5. Rhapsody for Violin and Piano no 1, Sz 86 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano), György Pauk (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; Budapest, Hungary 
6. Quartet for Strings no 2 in A minor, Op. 17: 2nd movement, Allegro molto capriccioso by Béla Bartók
Period: 20th Century 
7. Dance Suite for Orchestra, Sz 77: no 1, Moderato by Béla Bartók
Conductor:  Marin Alsop
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
8. Dance Suite for Orchestra, Sz 77: no 2, Allegro molto by Béla Bartók
Conductor:  Marin Alsop
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
9. Mikrokosmos, Sz 107: Book 6, no 149, Dance no 2 in Bulgarian Rhythm by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926-1939; Budapest, Hungary 
10. Quartet for Strings no 5, Sz 102: 3rd movement, Scherzo by Béla Bartók
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; Budapest, Hungary 
11. Mikrokosmos, Sz 107: Book 1, no 35, Chorale by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano)
12. Mikrokosmos, Sz 107: Book 1, no 32, Little Dance in Canon Form by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926-1939; Budapest, Hungary 
13. Mikrokosmos, Sz 107: Book 1, no 34, In Phrygian mode by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano)
14. Mikrokosmos, Sz 107: Book 2, no 37, In Lydian Mode by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926-1939; Budapest, Hungary 
15. Mikrokosmos, Sz 107: Book 4, no 105, Playsong by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926-1939; Budapest, Hungary 
16. Concerto for Violin no 2, Sz 112: 1st movement, Allegro non troppo by Béla Bartók
Performer:  György Pauk (Violin)
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937-1938; Budapest, Hungary 
17. Contrasts for Violin, Clarinet and Piano, Sz 111: 2nd movement, Piheno by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Kálmán Berkes (Clarinet), György Pauk (Violin), Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938; Budapest, Hungary 
18. Concerto for Piano no 2, Sz 95: 2nd movement, Adagio by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Conductor:  András Ligeti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930-1931; Budapest, Hungary 
19. Quartet for Strings no 5, Sz 102: 1st movement, Allegro by Béla Bartók
Period: 20th Century 
20. Out of Doors, Sz 81: no 4, Night music by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; Budapest, Hungary 
21. Concerto for Piano no 3, Sz 119: 2nd Movement, Adagio religioso by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Conductor:  András Ligeti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945; USA 
22. Quartet for Strings no 4, Sz 91: 3rd movement, Non troppo lent by Béla Bartók
Period: 20th Century 
23. Miraculous Mandarin, Op. 19/Sz 73: Final scene by Béla Bartók
Conductor:  Marin Alsop
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
24. Concerto for Violin no 1, Sz 36: 1st movement, Andante sostenuto by Béla Bartók
Performer:  György Pauk (Violin)
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907-1908; Budapest, Hungary 
25. Allegro barbaro for Piano, Sz 49 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; Budapest, Hungary 
26. Concerto for Orchestra, Sz 116: 4th movement, Intermezzo interrotto by Béla Bartók
Conductor:  Alexander Rahbari
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Belgian Radio And Television Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; USA 
27. Quartet for Strings no 6, Sz 114: 4th movement, Mesto by Béla Bartók
Period: 20th Century 
28. Concerto for Piano no 3, Sz 119: 3rd movement, Allegro vivace by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Conductor:  András Ligeti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945; USA 

Sound Samples

Szabadban (Out of Doors), BB 89: Out of Doors, BB 89: No. 3. Musettes
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 6: Mikrokosmos, Book 6, BB 105: No. 142. From the Diary of a Fly
Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, BB 114: III. Adagio
15 Hungarian Peasant Songs, BB 79: No. 1. Rubato
15 Hungarian Peasant Songs, BB 79: No. 2. Andante
15 Hungarian Peasant Songs, BB 79: No. 3. Poco rubato
15 Hungarian Peasant Songs, BB 79: No. 4. Andante: Scherzo
15 Hungarian Peasant Songs, BB 79: No. 5. Allegro
15 Hungarian Peasant Songs, BB 79: No. 6. Andante
15 Hungarian Peasant Songs, BB 79: No. 7. Allegro
15 Hungarian Peasant Songs, BB 79: No. 8. Allegretto
15 Hungarian Peasant Songs, BB 79: No. 9. Allegretto
15 Hungarian Peasant Songs, BB 79: No. 10. L'istesso tempo
15 Hungarian Peasant Songs, BB 79: No. 11. Assai moderato
15 Hungarian Peasant Songs, BB 79: No. 12. Allegretto
15 Hungarian Peasant Songs, BB 79: No. 13. Poco piu vivo
15 Hungarian Peasant Songs, BB 79: No. 14. Allegro
15 Hungarian Peasant Songs, BB 79: No. 15. Allegro
Rhapsody No. 1, BB 94b: I. Lassu: Moderato
Rhapsody No. 1, BB 94b: II. Friss: Allegretto moderato
String Quartet No. 2, BB 75: II. Allegro molto capriccioso
Dance Suite, BB 86a: I. Moderato
Dance Suite, BB 86a: II. Allegro molto
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 6: Mikrokosmos, Book 6, BB 105: No. 149. 6 Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm II
String Quartet No. 5, BB 110: III. Scherzo
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 35. Chorale
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 32. In Dorian Mode
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 1: No. 34. In Phrygian Mode
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 2: Mikrokosmos, Book 2, BB 105: No. 37. In Lydian Mode
Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Vol. 4: Mikrokosmos, Book 4, BB 105: No. 105. Game (with two five-tone scales)
Violin Concerto No. 2, BB 117: I. Allegro non troppo
Contrasts, BB 116: II. Piheno (Relaxation): Lento
Piano Concerto No. 2, BB 101: II. Adagio - Piu adagio - Presto
String Quartet No. 5, BB 110: I. Allegro
Szabadban (Out of Doors), BB 89: Out of Doors, BB 89: No. 4. The Night's Music
Piano Concerto No. 3, BB 127: II. Adagio religioso
String Quartet No. 4, BB 95: III. Non troppo lento
A csodalatos mandarin (The Miraculous Mandarin), Op. 19, BB 82: The Miraculous Mandarin, BB 82, Final scene: She resists no longer - They embrace
Violin Concerto No. 1, BB 48a: I. Andante sostenuto
Allegro barbaro, BB 63
Concerto for Orchestra, BB 123: IV. Intermezzo interrotto: Allegretto
String Quartet No. 6, BB 119: IV. Mesto
Piano Concerto No. 3, BB 127: III. Allegro vivace

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