Tag Archives: Bela Bartok

[53] Bartok – Concerto No. 3 for Piano and Orchestra / Tchaikovsky – Symphony No. 6

11 Apr

I’m sorry. I tried, but I just don’t seem to like the music of Bela Bartok.

Ferenc Fricsay

Ferenc Fricsay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a shame, because the premise of this particular album is fascinating – one of the last recordings of Ferenc Fricsay, a giant of a conductor, leading the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra through a performance of some of the last works of Bartok and Tchaikovsky.

But where much of the Classical music Tom Moon has exposed me to has inspired and engrossed, I have simply found nothing through three Bartok recordings to grab hold of, to sink my teeth into.

I’m sure there are Bartok fans who will roll their eyes at my naivite, shake their fist at my heresy.  Who knows, Moon might be foremost among them.  But as I keep discovering through this fascinating journey – “the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum . . .”

By the time we reach the Tchaikovsky here, my attention has already waned, my interest is elsewhere, no matter how many times I play through.  Hopefully my experience will be different 15 years or so from now when I reach Tchaikovsky in the T’s where he belongs, rather than this teaser all the way back on Bartok’s coattails.

It is the nature of the way I am tackling the list that when I run into an artist that Tom Moon chooses multiple albums from, if I do not enjoy them as much as him I am stuck for weeks trying to hear what it is that he hears. 

On the other hand, when that artist is a revelation, I encounter weeks of unexpected bliss.

So what’s next?  I’m ready to hear something different, and some obscure Opera followed by classic big band swing ought to do the trick.

Next Week: Cecilia Bartoli – the Vivaldi Album

Owned before blogging? No. (2 of 53. 4%)
Heard before blogging? No. (4 of 53. 8%)
Recommend? No. (41 of 53. 77%)

[52] Bela Bartok – Concerto for Orchestra / Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta

4 Apr

Unlike the unfocused rambling of his String Quartets, Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra – captured here by Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra – is crisp and engaging, demanding attention.

Concerto for Orchestra / Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta

Concerto for Orchestra / Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The score and the musicians change directions many times, painting with all different colors, inspiring one mood after another.  It is surprising how tight this large group sounds compared to the relative muddle of the strings last week.

And it may be the strings that brings out the meandering instinct in Bartok that I do not love.  The opening movement of Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, “Andante Tranquillo”, once again simply refuses to resolve, leaving me constantly hanging for no good reason I can ascertain.

It is frustrating after the assertiveness I enjoyed in the Concerto.

The “Allegro” movement returns to the precise, rapid runs that show off both the melody and musicianship, so I feel the need to listen to the opening movement again, to try and fathom out what it is I am missing, what on earth Bartok is playing at.

But to no avail.

There is an interesting dynamic in Tom Moon’s Classical selections, compared to the Rock, Pop, Jazz, etc.  Most of the later are discrete albums, listening experiences crafted by the artist at one moment in time, designed with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Whereas the Classical choices tend to be collections of compositions, some of them (as here) spanning multiple styles, some multiple decades, and some even multiple composers.  At times this has paid off beautifully (for example the case of the pyrotechnic skill and color of Martha Argerich, or the sweeping arc of Bach’s Concertos), but elsewhere the experience has left me bemused rather than engrossed.

I might have been able to recommend this particular recording if it were just the Concerto, but in muddying the water by including the (to my ear) lesser Music, Moon has overreached.

Which does not bode well for next week’s Bartok / Tchaikovsky mashup . . .

Next Week: Bartok – Concerto No. 3 for Piano and Orchestra / Tchaikovsky – Symphony No. 6

Owned before blogging? No. (2 of 52. 4%)
Heard before blogging? No. (4 of 52. 8%)
Recommend? No. (41 of 52. 79%)

[51] Bela Bartok – The String Quartets

28 Mar

Sometimes you simply connect with a piece of music and sometimes, for whatever reason, you do not. I am not sure I can articulate the reasons that this two hours of strings leaves me cold, but it certainly does.

Six String Quartets

Six String Quartets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps it is the proximity to my discovering the stunning cinematic strings of Samuel Barber – Bartok’s compositions are less immediate, more deliberate and so suffer in comparison.

Perhaps it is a lack of cohesion across the six pieces contained on this recording.

Or perhaps more simply it is the lack of concrete melody – the constant tease of unresolving chord sequences – but whatever the reason, while I do not actively dislike what I am hearing, I am also not at all engaged.

This leaves me a little concerned for the next two recordings, also of Bartok compositions.  To date I have been somewhat all or nothing in my enjoyment of the Classical music on display – two Adams pieces left me flat, while all four J. S. Bach recordings blew my mind.

On the one hand I hope that Bartok’s upcoming orchestral works will reach me in a way that his smaller attempts here have not. But on the other it might be interesting to discover that there are names and styles that I love and those that I do not.

Let’s find out . . .

Next Week: Bela Bartok – Concerto for Orchestra / Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta

Owned before blogging? No. (2 of 51. 4%)
Heard before blogging? No. (4 of 51. 8%)
Recommend? No. (41 of 51. 80%)

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