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Bartok: Violin Concerto, Rhapsodies 1, 2 Hybrid SACD

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Hungarian National Philharmonic
  • Conductor: Zoltan Kocsis
  • Composer: Bela Bartok
  • Audio CD (6 Dec. 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD
  • Label: Hungaroton
  • ASIN: B004EL1ZGY
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 257,265 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Rhapsody No. 1
  2. Rhapsody No. 2
  3. Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 2, BB 117, Sz 112
  4. Friss, (Allegro Moderato - Second Version)
  5. Allegro Molto, (First Version)
  6. Friss, (Allegretto Moderato - First Version)

Product Description

HUN 32509; HUNGAROTON - Ungheria;

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This disc, recorded in 2010, provides Bartok’s alternative endings for both Rhapsodies and for the concerto. All three performances are given complete with the option to replace the appropriate endings with the listeners’ own choices.

The complete performances supply the performers’’ preferences as follows: The 1st Rhapsody first version because it reprises the first section whereas the 2nd doesn’t; the 2nd Rhapsody second version as it is a more complex and more interesting alternative; the concerto first version because the ending later supplied was at the specific request of the soloist who wanted more display. This was not Bartok’s original intention.

In all three performances there is the inestimable advantage of having a Hungarian orchestra with Hungarian players as well as a conductor and soloist who individually and together demonstrate a close empathy with Bartok’s Hungarian idiom. This is equally apparent from the orchestral response and this empathy informs not just the overall broad concepts but, more importantly, every tiny detail of phrasing that relates this music to its Hungarian folk inspiration.

By the time of the late concerto this inspiration had become so internalised in the composer’s creative thought processes that direct quotes or re-workings of original folk material was no longer part of the composition. For this reason it is essential for the performers to have that empathy which goes further than the notes and their notation. With such folk-inspired music there is a clear advantage in hearing the music played by those for whom that fiolk element is part of their cultural upbringing. That is what we have here.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is one of a number of top class performances of Bartok's 2nd violin concerto recently, I have acquired them all and would not be without any of them. Kelemen's performance is full of vitality, with much more than just brilliant technique, and he is superbly supported by Kocsis and his Hungarian players. My only gripe is that this Hungaraton hybrid SACD does not play on my old but audiophile quality Proceed cd player, I can only play it by ripping it (having to enter all the metadata manually!) and streaming it through my Linn Klimax DS. But it was worth the trouble!!
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Format: Audio CD
The Bartok New Series is an ongoing project which aims to record all Bartok's music in exemplary, definitive performances. There was an earlier broad series of Bartok recordings some thirty years ago. In this CD, the most recent of the series, violinist Barnabas Kelemen and the Hungarian Nationa Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Zoltan Kocis perform three works by Bartok for violin and orchestra: the Violin Concerto no. 2 (an earlier violin concerto was posthumously published) and the two rhapsodies for violin and orchestra.

The major work on the program is the violin concerto, composed between 1937-38 for violinist Zoltan Szekeley. It is a difficult, angular, forbidding work that has won a place in 20th century music through performances by many great violinists. The three-movement work is virtuosic in the extreme. It is angular, dissonant, and tart with many changes of moods, rhythms, and tempos. The jagged sections of the work alternate with sections of yearning and lyricism. Kelemen captures the bristling, difficult character of the music without trying to sweeten it. The lengthy opening movement goes through many moods, from the opening wandering theme to a slower section to a bristling candenza. The slow movement is based on a short beautiful theme followed by six complexly orchestrated variations. The finale is pulsating and varied. This is a highly intense, challenging concerto that takes several hearing and may not be to the taste of every listener. Kelemen and Kocis give a convincing account of this modern masterpiece.

Bartok's two rhapsodies for violin and orchestra are much more accessible than the violin concerto. They were originally scored for violin and piano with the orchestral version prepared later.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9e4faad4) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e50566c) out of 5 stars A disc offering collectors all extant versions of these pieces in notably idiomatic performances in excellent sound 23 Sept. 2015
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This disc, recorded in 2010, provides Bartok’s alternative endings for both Rhapsodies and for the concerto. All three performances are given complete with the option to replace the appropriate endings with the listeners’ own choices.

The complete performances supply the performers’’ preferences as follows: The 1st Rhapsody first version because it reprises the first section whereas the 2nd doesn’t; the 2nd Rhapsody second version as it is a more complex and more interesting alternative; the concerto first version because the ending later supplied was at the specific request of the soloist who wanted more display. This was not Bartok’s original intention.

In all three performances there is the inestimable advantage of having a Hungarian orchestra with Hungarian players as well as a conductor and soloist who individually and together demonstrate a close empathy with Bartok’s Hungarian idiom. This is equally apparent from the orchestral response and this empathy informs not just the overall broad concepts but, more importantly, every tiny detail of phrasing that relates this music to its Hungarian folk inspiration.

By the time of the late concerto this inspiration had become so internalised in the composer’s creative thought processes that direct quotes or re-workings of original folk material was no longer part of the composition. For this reason it is essential for the performers to have that empathy which goes further than the notes and their notation. With such folk-inspired music there is a clear advantage in hearing the music played by those for whom that fiolk element is part of their cultural upbringing. That is what we have here.

Technically the performances are first class as indeed is the recording which is particularly satisfying when heard in full SACD surround sound. The balance keeps the soloist at a reasonable distance so that there is sufficient blending with the orchestral textures. The sound-stage is broad and deep enough to be realistic as are tonal considerations.

In summary therefore, this is a disc offering collectors all extant versions of these pieces in notably idiomatic performances in easy-to-choose listening options. Its close identification with Bartok’s sound world and its technical excellence makes this disc a very desirable consideration for collectors.

A disc offering collectors all extant versions of these pieces in notably idiomatic performances in excellent sound
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e5058b8) out of 5 stars Bartok For Violin and Orchestra 21 Dec. 2015
By Robin Friedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The Bartok New Series is an ongoing project which aims to record all Bartok's music in exemplary, definitive performances. There was an earlier broad series of Bartok recordings some thirty years ago. In this CD, the most recent of the series, violinist Barnabas Kelemen and the Hungarian Nationa Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Zoltan Kocis perform three works by Bartok for violin and orchestra: the Violin Concerto no. 2 (an earlier violin concerto was posthumously published) and the two rhapsodies for violin and orchestra.

The major work on the program is the violin concerto, composed between 1937-38 for violinist Zoltan Szekeley. It is a difficult, angular, forbidding work that has won a place in 20th century music through performances by many great violinists. The three-movement work is virtuosic in the extreme. It is angular, dissonant, and tart with many changes of moods, rhythms, and tempos. The jagged sections of the work alternate with sections of yearning and lyricism. Kelemen captures the bristling, difficult character of the music without trying to sweeten it. The lengthy opening movement goes through many moods, from the opening wandering theme to a slower section to a bristling candenza. The slow movement is based on a short beautiful theme followed by six complexly orchestrated variations. The finale is pulsating and varied. This is a highly intense, challenging concerto that takes several hearing and may not be to the taste of every listener. Kelemen and Kocis give a convincing account of this modern masterpiece.

Bartok's two rhapsodies for violin and orchestra are much more accessible than the violin concerto. They were originally scored for violin and piano with the orchestral version prepared later. These works show the great influence of Liszt and consist of Bartok's arrangement of Hungarian and other eastern European folk tunes. Scholars have identified the folk material Bartok collected and used. Each work is in two movements marked slow and fast and each combines several folk-derived melodies with imaginative and varied orchestrations. These works make an immediate, passionate appeal.

For each of the three works on this CD, Bartok wrote an alternative final movement. The three alternative movements are included on this CD as an Appendix to allow the listener to compare the different versions. The violin concerto is usually but not always performed with the second finale Bartok composed at the request of Szkeley. It is so performed here, with Bartok's first finale included in the Appendix. I thought the first version was even more frenetic and wild than the version Bartok wrote later, and I preferred it to the more often done revision. For the second rhapsody, Bartok's original final movement is rarely performed. In fact, it receives its first recorded performance on this CD. In this first rhapsody, the more frequently performed second version of the second movement is given in the Appendix while the first version is given in the work performed as a whole. Listeners with a strong interest in Bartok will enjoy getting to know the various versions of these works.

This CD received an enthusiastic review from Erik Levi in the January 12, 2012 "CD Today", the website of BBC Music Magazine.. Levi praised the "extraordinary talent" of Barnabas Kelemen and wrote that Kelemen possessed an "instinctive and idiomatic understanding of the musical language" of the concerto. He found the orchestra offered "astonishingly vivid support to Kelemen's rollercoaster playing bringing a raw incisive energy to the orchestral accompaniment in place of the more opulent late-romantic textures favoured in many other recordings".

The recording dates from 2010 but has been released only recently. There are detailed liner notes on each piece. The CD is on the Hungaraton label and distributed by Naxos. Naxos kindly sent me a review copy. The recording is a SACD hybrid disk and plays with full, excellent sound in a CD player.

Total Time: 77:39

Robin Friedman
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