Besides being one of the most important composers of the twentieth century, Bela Bartok would undoubtedly be the greatest Hungarian cultural icons. Universally revered Bartok was perhaps the earliest person who took keen interest in the local music of Hungary and Romania. Today known as ethnomusicology, Bartok dedicated a lifetime to understand and popularize the folk music and the influence of the same rubbed of on his later works.
Bela Bartok – The Hungarian cultural icon
The release of Bartok New Series of Hungaroton Classic Record Company gave Delhi’s Bartok Music Club a good enough reason to celebrate. The new series magnificently supersedes the record labels previous Bartok Complete Edition of the 1960’s and 70’s. Upgrading the legendary composer’s body of work for a new generation, the Bartok New Series comes on the Super Audio CD technology with true 6 channel sound. Helmed by internationally renowned composer and conductor Zoltan Kocsis, the recordings are nothing less than a delight.
Taking place under the aegis of Dr. Imre Lazar, the Director of the Hungarian Cultural Centre, the guests were treated to excerpts from the four published volumes of the composer’s work. Starting with a brief intro about Bartok for the benefit of the new members, Dr. Lazar went out to talk about the history of recording Bartok.
Rift between Zoltan Kocsis and Ivan Fischer…
While Zoltan Kocsis and Ivan Fischer, one of Hungary’s celebrated conductors, collaborated on many previous recordings of Bartok, the two bitterly fell-out before this series was undertaken.
There is a famous Hungarian proverb which believes that the inn is always too small for two pipe players and with the new technology calling out loud for Bartok’s works to be upgraded a great debate raged in Hungary- who would supervise this new recording? With two clear groups in Kocsis and his Hungarian State Orchestra and Fischer with Budapest Festival Orchestra, the state government didn’t know what to do.
Kocsis wanted new recordings while Fischer was convinced of digitally re-mastering some old recordings, the government finally made the two sides compromise with Kociss having his way but advised to include a few of Fischer’s old recordings.
Delighted by Fischer’s version of Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra and later the 1st Violin Concerto conducted by Kocsis, the guests enjoyed classic Bartok with superior sound and a complete concert hall experience. Written before he got into folk music, Bartok’s Rhapsody for Piano and orchestra has a long melody and numerous veneers depicting various moods. Written for Steffi Geyer, the Violin Concerto has a romantic overtone.
Best part about Bartok Music
Strange are the ways of love and by the time the piece was completed Bartok’s love had cooled off. Bartok never played or published the piece in his lifetime but thankfully didn’t destroy thereby allowing it to have a life of its own post Bartok. Blessed with an evocative melody, the piece is mellow and clearly portrays a man smitten by his lady love.
The cozy environs of the Hungarian Centre, the winter evening, the crystal clear sound of Bartok accompanied by the millions anecdotes about the genius, The Bartok Music Club is one sure way of escaping the burden of the mundane everyday existence!