Bartók: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 and 2; Viola Concerto

Bartók: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 and 2; Viola Concerto

by James Ehnes
     
 
Canadian violinist James Ehnes, ably backed by the BBC Philharmonic under the energetic Gianandrea Noseda, sets himself a challenge here with an original and difficult program, and then meets all the challenges involved in this fine Bartók disc. The program, containing

Overview

Canadian violinist James Ehnes, ably backed by the BBC Philharmonic under the energetic Gianandrea Noseda, sets himself a challenge here with an original and difficult program, and then meets all the challenges involved in this fine Bartók disc. The program, containing Bartók's three concertos for a stringed instrument and orchestra, has dual difficulties: not just the requirement that the player surmount technical hurdles on both the violin and viola, but, more significantly, put across the differing emotional worlds of early, middle, and late Bartók. The "Violin Concerto No. 1," probably unperformed during Bartók's lifetime, was composed in 1907 for the violinist Stefi Geyer, a student of Jenö Hubay. It is pure late-Romantic Bartók, with dense, Straussian melodies in its first movement balanced by a more rhythmic finale. The "Violin Concerto No. 2," from the late '30s, is one of Bartók's finest works, with variation structures that elegantly expand the melodic economy resulting from the composer's engagement with folk music. It's a rigorous, complex work that reveals something new on each hearing. The "Viola Concerto," left unfinished but fully sketched at Bartók's death in 1945 and completed by Tibor Serly four years later, is a product of the composer's more populist American style, with broad, pleasing melodies and a full-out Hungarian finale. To deliver each of these styles convincingly is a tall order, but Ehnes does not fail. The second violin concerto, especially, has the effect of a diamond whose aspects are viewed from different perspectives; it's worth the purchase price in itself. An excellent choice not only for Bartók's concertos, but as an introduction to this giant of 20th century music who felt the dictates of wider cultural developments but worked things out fully in his own way.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/27/2011
Label:
Chandos
UPC:
0095115169025
catalogNumber:
10690
Rank:
7574

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Viola Concerto (completed in 1949 by Tibor Serly), Sz. 120, BB 128  - Béla Bartók  - Tibor Serly  -  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra  - Ralph Couzens  - James Ehnes  - Gianandrea Noseda
  2. Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor, Sz. 112, BB 117  - Béla Bartók  -  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra  - Ralph Couzens  - James Ehnes  - Gianandrea Noseda
  3. Violin Concerto No. 1, Sz. 36, BB 48a  - Béla Bartók  -  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra  - Ralph Couzens  - James Ehnes  - Gianandrea Noseda

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