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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Afraid of Bartók? Start here!, 6 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: Kossuth - Symphonic Poem/The Wooden Prince (Audio CD)
My first acquaintance with the uncompromising Hungarian, as Harold C. Schonberg calls him, was one of his most fiercely inaccessible works, "The Miraculous Mandarin". Its seemingly unhinged character, offering several unconnected swoops and shrieks in wild succession, its total absence of anything even faintly recognizable as a melody, put me off Bartók for a long time. A passionate plea for his last completed composition, "Concerto for Orchestra", by German comedian Konrad Beikircher made me relent, but I took the precautionary measure of listening to Bartók's earliest orchestral composition first, written in an idiom (Richard Strauss's) that I could at least understand and, hopefully, appreciate.
And "Kossuth", for that is the composition's name, did what it should do: open up Bartók's sound world. It is a work typical of the time it was written (1903), large orchestral forces throwing up huge walls of glorious sound, pulsating like a restless sea, Strauss, Mahler, Wagner and all the heavy boys looking encouragingly on.... The "Suite no.1 for Orchestra" (not on this disc) is quite similar and may also be a good starting point ( Suite No.1, Two Pieces).
"The Wooden Prince", a ballet and the second piece on the disc, is leaner, less thrusting, and already more in Bartók's own voice than "Kossuth", but still very listenable. From there it's a small step to "Concerto for Orchestra", the various Hungarian and Romanian sketches and dances, "Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta" and even the violin and viola concertos. Although some pieces need some getting used to, it can be a very rewarding experience to have Bartók around ("The Miraculous Mandarin" is still out of my league however....).
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Kossuth - Symphonic Poem/The Wooden Prince
Kossuth - Symphonic Poem/The Wooden Prince by BARTOK Bela (Audio CD - 2007)
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