Hungary Bartók Spring Worldwide Arts Weeks 2023 pageant : Dénes Várjon (pianist), Concerto Budapest / András Keller (conductor). Nice Corridor of Music Academy, Budapest, 1.4.2023. (AK)
Bartók – Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra, Op.1; Scherzo for Piano and Orchestra Op.2
Bach – Brandenburg Concerto No.3 in G Main
Beethoven – Symphony No.7 in A serious
The second live performance of the Bartók Spring 2023 pageant offered two comparatively little-known Bartók items. Each compositions are from Bartók’s youth however clearly deserve the eye which they now had.
Initially written for solo piano in 1904, Bartók had excessive hopes for his Op.1 Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra which initially didn’t convey success. In 1905 Bartók entered the Rubinstein competitors in Paris as pianist and composer, however the recognition solely stretched to a diploma for Bartók, with no first and second prize awarded. Nevertheless, on the Budapest premiere in 1909, with Jenő Hubay conducting, the opinions had been complimentary, and the viewers was very enthusiastic.
Following the construction of the nineteenth-century slow-fast rhapsody kind, this c.17-minute-long Rhapsody contains quite a few gypsy-type augmented second intervals (each within the solo piano and the orchestra), adopted by humour and pleasure aided by heavy orchestral instrumentation with all wind, brass and percussion devices which may be accommodated in a symphony orchestra. As pianist, Bartók stored the piece on his repertoire for a few years, thus arguably indicating his satisfaction with it. It appears a disgrace that – other than a number of recordings – the Rhapsody appears to have virtually disappeared from our consciousness within the twenty-first century.
Composed in 1904-5 and initially titled as Burlesque, Bartók’s Scherzo for Piano and Orchestra was just about unknown for over half a century. Bartók was dissatisfied with an ill-prepared orchestra for the deliberate premiere, withdrew efficiency rights and most well-liked to overlook concerning the composition. The rating remained unpublished till Belgian Bartók scholar Denis Dille discovered it in Bartók’s property in 1961. Dille declared the work as crucial, partly due to its technical mastery. Distinguished Bartók scholar Professor László Somfai agrees with Dille’s suggestion concerning Richard Strauss and Liszt influences on the composition but in addition cites a number of later Bartók works which have their seeds within the Scherzo. The orchestral forces are exceptionally massive and embody uncommon variations. For example, Bartók makes use of an Ab clarinet (in addition to Eb and Bb clarinets).
Pianist Dénes Várjon, conductor András Keller and the entire orchestra delivered prime quality performances regardless of apparent technical challenges (in addition to presumably some discomfort on the crowded stage). Várjon is new to each items, at the very least – in accordance with an interview – this was the primary time that he performed them at a live performance … a premiere Várjon may be happy with. Bartók’s humour is clear in each compositions and Várjon beautifully conveyed this side. His stamina can also be commendable: Bartók didn’t spare the soloist (nor the orchestra). On conclusion of the lengthy and taxing Scherzo, there may be an sudden duet for the pianist and a solo violinist: each Várjon and the concertmaster delivered superbly. On the finish of the Rhapsody, there’s a beautiful horn solo: once more, splendidly performed by presumably the primary horn.
After the 2 very taxing orchestral piano items Várjon offered Bartók the folklorist: as an encore, he performed the Three Folksongs from the Couny Csik. You could possibly have heard a pin drop within the live performance corridor, such was Várjon’s loving engagement with these items and the viewers’s appreciation for them.
After the interval, following the 2 Bartók piano-orchestra works and the solo piano encores, we had been handled to Bach’s Third Brandenburg Concerto which ten string gamers and a harpsichord participant offered with out a conductor. No downside with the efficiency – the orchestra has glorious gamers – however the ready time earlier than and after might need been taxing for the viewers. I for one discovered the clearing the stage after which refurbishing the stage at that stage of the night a little bit of a distraction. It’s not clear (to me) why the programme included a Bach chamber piece between the massive orchestral works, though I really like the piece.
Conductor András Keller offered hearth within the first motion of the Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony; beautiful pace, and appropriately subdued dynamics within the second motion (with glorious contribution from the wind part). The third motion felt barely rushed to this pair of ears however, however, with an impressive gradual part which included some magical pianissimos. The final motion was once more full of fireplace and excessive pace; Keller despatched dwelling the viewers with high quality power … after a top-quality live performance.