Archive for bartok

Bartok: works for violin and piano Vol 2 | James Ehnes | Andrew Armstrong (piano)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 17, 2013 by orinococds

Bartok violin works Vol 2: James Ehnes | Andrew Armstrong | CHAN 10752 | $NZ 33

James Ehnes has previously explored Béla Bartók’s concertos for violin and for viola, to great acclaim. This disc is the second in his equally successful survey of Bartók’s chamber music for the violin. His accompanist, once more, is Andrew Armstrong, a pianist praised by critics for his passionate expression and dazzling technique.

The folk-inspired Sonata for Solo Violin was the last work that Bartók wrote for the instrument, not to mention the most challenging. In a departure from his usual practice, this work was written not for a fellow Hungarian, but rather for an artist born in New York where Bartók was now living: Yehudi Menuhin. Suitably impressed by a recital performance by Menuhin of his first Violin Sonata as well as Bach’s Sonata in C, he had no hesitation in accepting the violinist’s commission for a sonata that, like Bach’s, would be unaccompanied.

Almost half a century earlier, Bartók had written his Sonata for Violin and Piano in E minor. It was included in a concert given by graduating students of the Liszt Academy in June 1903, when a critic, most likely not realising just how right he would prove, hailed Bartók as ‘a phenomenal young genius, whose name today is known only to a few, but who is destined to play a great and brilliant role in the history of Hungarian music’.

Additionally on this disc we have three groups of Bartók’s Romanian and Hungarian folk dances, folksongs, and folk tunes, arranged for violin variously by Zoltán Székely, Tivadar Országh, and Joseph Szigeti, often with direct involvement by the composer himself who helped fine-tune the new arrangements. James Ehnes also highlights the Romanian influences in Bartók’s Sonatina for piano, transcribed for violin by André Gertler, a student of Bartók’s.

“The eagerly awaited second volume of Canadian James Ehnes’ series devoted to Bartok includes the challenging 1944 Sonata for solo violin and the earlier E minor sonata with  piano from 1903. The rest of the cd is filled with two sets of Hungarian folk songs, and the famous Romanian Folk Dances, … Ehnes, in great demand internationally, has already recorded the Bartok concertos to huge acclaim and is clearly making his name as a specialist in the composer’s music. He’s making a third visit to New Zealand later this year (playing Elgar with the Auckland Philharmonia)  … his [Bartok interpretation] is currently unrivalled.” Peter Shaw, North and South magazine (March 2013 issue)

Ehnes gives a stunning account of the Solo Sonata. The impression is that he’s simply following all Bartok’s meticulous direction…and adding nothing extra. If this seems boring, the effect is anything but: clarity of articulation, beauty of sound, the ease with which he surmounts the technical challenges, and deep understanding of the work’s structure and character; all these combine to make a performance that’s exciting and enthralling. Gramophone Magazine, January 2013


Bartók: Complete Piano Concertos Nos. 1, 2 & 3 | Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) | BBC Philharmonic, Gianandrea Noseda (cond.)

Posted in Concerto, Orchestral with tags , , , , on February 6, 2013 by orinococds

Bartók: Piano Concertos Nos. 1, 2 & 3 | Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) | BBC Philharmonic, Gianandrea Noseda

This is the first concerto recording by Jean-Efflam Bavouzet for Chandos. Following the tremendous success of his complete Debussy piano music edition (‘This could well be the finest and most challenging of all Debussy piano cycles’ – Bryce Morrison, Gramophone) – which scooped awards from both Gramophone and BBC Music – and the launch of his ambitious Haydn Piano Sonatas series, the pianist now turns his attention to some of the mightiest concertos of the twentieth century. The three Bartók Piano Concertos on a single CD represents superb value for money.

Bartók wrote his First Concerto, one of his most challenging works, in 1926. The percussive piano writing ads much bite to the textures. The first movement is striking in its rhythmic vigour and dramatic character. The central Andante is essentially a dialogue between the soloist and four percussion players and features much atmospheric ‘Night Music’. In the finale, following without a break, the brilliant motoric rhythms of the first movement return, as does the dramatic use of percussion in a thrilling mêlée of sound.

The Second Concerto was first performed in 1933. The music is more melodically appealing and in the first movement, which is notably contrapuntal, the strings are silent throughout. The hushed slow movement on strings is interrupted half way through by a brilliant and startling scherzo, with a striking sequence of tremolos and note-clusters, before the haunting quiet mood of the opening returns. The finale, again with brilliant use of percussion (as well as brass), ends the work in virtuoso fashion.

The Third Concerto was written at the end of the composer’s life, in 1945, and is much more restrained than the previous piano concertos. The work is lighter, airy, and almost neo-classical compared to much of his earlier music. Unlike much of Bartók’s output, the piece was not composed on commission, but was rather created as a surprise birthday gift for Bartók’s second wife, Ditta Pásztory, who was, like Bartók, a skilled concert pianist. The two lively outer movements, full of the composer’s distinctive rhythmic drive, are separated by a slow movement of great beauty and serenity, with, again, a striking, contrasting middle section. The final seventeen bars were orchestrated by the composer’s pupil, Tibor Serly, after the composer’s death, based on Bartók’s notes.

“Both Bavouzet and the BBC Philharmonic with Gianandrea Noseda are outstanding in the First Concerto, capturing its epic scale and mixture of formality and barbarism…[These performances] generally have all the sweep, intensity and precision that these works demand.” The Guardian, 26th August 2010 ****

“In league with the finely honed BBC Philharmonic, these are performances vibrant in colour, vital in rhythm and detail and viscerally exciting in impact.” The Telegraph, 2nd September 2010 *****

“Bavouzet relishes the high-octane energy of the outer movements of the first two concertos but through his imaginatively varied use of colour manages to avoid the trap of making Bartók’s percussive writing seem too relentless.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2010 *****

“Bavouzet’s own energy and lightness make the most of the jubilant, rhythmic writing.. It’s a beautifully nuanced performance, brimming over with variety of touch and dynamic…The orchestra match him in their deft lightness, brightness and virtuosity.” Charlotte Gardner,, 16/09/2010

“Bavouzet’s interpretations are masculine, intelligent and direct. In most of the nine movements, he opts for unusually brisk tempos, though quick as they are, the music never sounds rushed or precipitous. Clarity invariably prevails and Noseda and the orchestra are equal partners at every turn…the overall effect is viscerally exhilarating.” International Record Review, October 2010

“If you’re after a disc of Bartok’s piano concertos that maximises on the music’s drive, elegance and sparring potential, then you could hardly to better than his ear-catching new production…Bavouzet doesn’t play down the music’s earth-derived grandeur…or its drama.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2010

“From the paranoid wranglings of the First Concerto to the helter-skelter glamour of the Second and the burlesque of the Third, the playing is first rate. Pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet delivers coruscating cadenza and locates an almost Beethovenian limpidity for the Adagio Religioso.” The Independent on Sunday, 17th October 2010

Bartok: Violin Concertos Nos 1 and 2; Viola Concerto

Posted in Concerto, Orchestral, Violin with tags , , , , on July 31, 2012 by orinococds
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Bartok: Violin Concertos BBC Philharmonic, Gianandrea Noseda, James Ehnes
CHAN 10690  $33NZ

Violin Concerto No. 1, BB 48a 20:45

Violin Concerto No. 2, BB 117 36:01

Viola Concerto, Sz 120, BB 128 20:406

James Ehnes violin and viola | BBC Philharmonic | Gianandrea Noseda

Internet retailer Presto had this to say about the Bartok concertos release in 2011:
“Hailed as ‘the Jascha Heifetz of our day’ (The Globe and Mail, Canada), the violinist James Ehnes is widely considered one of the most dynamic and exciting performers in classical music, appearing regularly with the world’s finest orchestras and conductors… Ehnes is the soloist in Bartók’s two violin concertos in which he plays the ‘Marsick’ Stradivarius of 1715, as well as in the viola concerto, performing on the ‘Rolla’ Giuseppe Guadagnini viola of 1793, on loan from the Fulton Collection.”

James Ehnes said of this disc: ‘These three concertos are among the most striking examples of Bartók’s early, middle, and late periods, each showing a very different side of one of the great musical voices of all time; they are among my very favourite pieces to perform’.

“a performance that, throughout, is ear-catchingly alert to the music’s range of tonal shading, its abrupt switches of pace and mood, its powerful bravura and its pungent lyricism…this whole disc…gives a remarkable insight into Bartók’s compositional individuality in performances of captivating artistry.” The Telegraph, 2nd September 2011 *****

“Romantic” is not the first word that comes to mind with Bartók, but there is no mistaking the romantic influences that run through these concertos…Ehnes’s sweet tone and sensitive musicianship make this an unexpectedly rewarding disc, with warm-blooded accompaniments” Financial Times, 17th September 2011 ****

“His sinewy, lean tone is perfect for the mature Bartok’s stark, rebarbative harmonic language, yet he perceives the lyrical, folkloric vein that runs through the composer’s greatest masterpieces. Ehnes makes the attractive but uncharacteristic early concerto worth hearing, but he really warms to the late lyrical manner Bartok adopted for the Viola Concerto” Sunday Times, 18th September 2011

“Chandos could not have chosen a more ideal team for this project…Here they demonstrate an instinctive understanding for the different musical characteristics of each work…While encapsulating these distinctive emotional worlds, they nonetheless maintain a tight grip over the music’s structural direction…Chandos have done soloist, conductor and orchestra proud with a warmly engineered recording that allows us to hear a wealth of inner details.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2011 *****

“I can’t think of a finer CD version of the First Concerto than this… its pared-to-the-bone textures mean that Ehnes’s soul-warming contribution comes across as especially powerful.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2011

via Bartok: Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 2/Viola Concerto.

Playing time: 77 min 45 sec