Published on Sep 16, 2015

– Composer: Béla Viktor János Bartók (25 March 1881 — 26 September 1945) – Orchestra: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra – Conductor: David Zinman – Soloists: Nelson Freire and Martha Argerich (pianos), Jan Labordus and Jan Pustjens (percussion) – Year of recording: 1985 Concerto for Two Pianos, Percussion and Orchestra, Sz. 115, BB 121, written in 1940. 00:00 – I. Assai lento – Allegro molto 13:31 – II. Lento, ma non troppo 20:45 – III. Allegro non troppo The composition date given in the headnote is slightly misleading: yes, Bartók produced this effort in 1940, but it is an arrangement of the 1937 Sonata for 2 pianos and percussion. While for some time the chamber version may have been the preferred one, especially among critics, the orchestral rendition eventually became the more popular choice in concert halls and the recording studio. Bartók had originally conceived the work for solo piano and percussion, but felt a second keyboard would supply sufficient sonic heft to provide the proper instrumental balances. Largely because of the work’s success at its debut on 16 January 1938, the composer decided to arrange it for orchestra, changing relatively small portions of the piano and percussion scoring. – The first movement opens mysteriously (Assai lento), the pianos introducing the cryptic, terse main theme, or motif. As the music builds via intervallic accumulation, there are explosions from the percussion, and after an imaginative march-like episode on the pianos the tempo changes to Allegro molto. The colors brighten here and a brilliant, rhythmic theme, growing from the opening motif, is given by the pianos, later to be played colorfully by the xylophone. A second theme of less-aggressive character appears, and there follows an imaginative and complex development section. In the latter part of the first movement a brilliant fugue is given, wherein the piano writing is quite virtuosic, hands going in opposite directions on the keyboards, notes filling the air with tension and momentum. A dramatic coda, itself roiling in tension, closes the movement with emphatic resolution. – The second movement is an elegy whose mesmerizing music, marked Lento ma non troppo, recalls the middle movement of the composer’s Piano Concerto No. 1 from 1926 (uploaded on this channel), also a percussion-laden affair. The middle section here breaks from the elegiac mood of the opening and closing with agitated music, offering fine contrast to the nostalgic main theme. – The third movement is a rondo, marked Allegro non troppo, that features two quite memorable themes. The first has an arched contour, rising and descending jovially on the keyboard, while the next one is presented emphatically by the xylophone, sounding humorous and intentionally stiff in its march-like manner. There is a brilliant but terse development of the main theme in a fugato episode, and the work ends with a subdued coda. This concerto has attained a measure of popularity, but still remains largely on the fringes of the repertory, owing in part to the two-piano scoring. Relatively few virtuosos from any period devote their time to works like this unfortunately; this superlative performance by Freire and Argerich is one of the few.

 

 

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Piano Hélène Grimaud, conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy

ollavogala

– Composer: Béla Viktor János Bartók (25 March 1881 — 26 September 1945)
– Orchestra: Radio Symphonie Orchester Berlin
– Conductor: Ferenc Fricsay
– Soloist: Géza Anda
– Year of recording: 1960

Piano Concerto No. 1, Sz. 83, BB 91, written in 1926.

00:00 – I. Allegro moderato – Allegro
09:22 – II. Andante – attacca
17:58 – III. Allegro molto

ollavogala

– Composer: Béla Viktor János Bartók (25 March 1881 — 26 September 1945)
– Orchestra: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
– Conductor: David Zinman
– Soloists: Nelson Freire and Martha Argerich (pianos), Jan Labordus and Jan Pustjens (percussion)
– Year of recording: 1985

Concerto for Two Pianos, Percussion and Orchestra, Sz. 115, BB 121, written in 1940.

00:00 – I. Assai lento – Allegro molto
13:31 – II. Lento, ma non troppo
20:45 – III. Allegro non troppo

The composition date given in the headnote is slightly misleading: yes, Bartók produced this effort in 1940, but it is an arrangement of the 1937 Sonata for 2 pianos and percussion. While for some time the chamber version may have been the preferred one, especially among critics, the orchestral rendition eventually became the more popular choice in concert halls and the recording studio.

Bartók had originally conceived the work for solo piano and percussion, but felt a second keyboard would supply sufficient sonic heft to provide the proper instrumental balances. Largely because of the work’s success at its debut on 16 January 1938, the composer decided to arrange it for orchestra, changing relatively small portions of the piano and percussion scoring.

– The first movement opens mysteriously (Assai lento), the pianos introducing the cryptic, terse main theme, or motif. As the music builds via intervallic accumulation, there are explosions from the percussion, and after an imaginative march-like episode on the pianos the tempo changes to Allegro molto. The colors brighten here and a brilliant, rhythmic theme, growing from the opening motif, is given by the pianos, later to be played colorfully by the xylophone. A second theme of less-aggressive character appears, and there follows an imaginative and complex development section. In the latter part of the first movement a brilliant fugue is given, wherein the piano writing is quite virtuosic, hands going in opposite directions on the keyboards, notes filling the air with tension and momentum. A dramatic coda, itself roiling in tension, closes the movement with emphatic resolution.
– The second movement is an elegy whose mesmerizing music, marked Lento ma non troppo, recalls the middle movement of the composer’s Piano Concerto No. 1 from 1926 (uploaded on this channel), also a percussion-laden affair. The middle section here breaks from the elegiac mood of the opening and closing with agitated music, offering fine contrast to the nostalgic main theme.
– The third movement is a rondo, marked Allegro non troppo, that features two quite memorable themes. The first has an arched contour, rising and descending jovially on the keyboard, while the next one is presented emphatically by the xylophone, sounding humorous and intentionally stiff in its march-like manner. There is a brilliant but terse development of the main theme in a fugato episode, and the work ends with a subdued coda.

This concerto has attained a measure of popularity, but still remains largely on the fringes of the repertory, owing in part to the two-piano scoring. Relatively few virtuosos from any period devote their time to works like this unfortunately; this superlative performance by Freire and Argerich is one of the few.