- Suite for orchestra No. 1, Sz. 31, BB 39 (Op. 3)
- Two Portraits (Két portré), for violin & orchestra, Sz. 37, BB 48b (Op. 5)
- Kossuth, symphonic poem for orchestra, Sz. 21, BB 31
Probably a majority of great composers sounded somehow like themselves even as teenagers. Beethoven did not sound like Haydn or Mozart, but like an imperfect version of himself very early on. Bartók was different, though: ask someone who knows only the big Bartók successes for an identification of the composer of these pieces and a correct guess is unlikely. These pieces fit into the tradition of Liszt and Richard Strauss, with the latter especially evident in the tone poem "Kossuth." The work depicts a hero of the unsuccessful Hungarian Revolution of 1848, and Buffalo Philharmonic conductor JoAnn Falletta gives it the appropriate splashy energy. The "Two Portraits" are also programmatic, with the Ideal and Grotesque movements reflecting Bartók's pre- and post-breakup views of the violinist Stefi Geyer. The "Suite No. 1, Op. 3, Sz. 60," feels the most like Bartók, although its rhythms are Viennese rather than Hungarian. This work was Bartók's first big success, and in Falletta's brisk, infectious reading it is easy to hear it with the ears of its first audiences. Classic recordings of these works from Antal Dorati and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra are available, but these are quite worthwhile, and Naxos gets sonically strong results from the orchestra's own Kleinhans Music Hall.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Kossuth Two Portraits & Suite 1 (Bartok / Buffalo Phil / Falletta) based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
When one ponders the legacy of Bela Bartok, several seminal masterpieces immediately spring to mind: Concerto For Orchestra; Bluebeard’s Castle, Music For Strings, Percussion and Celesta, The Miraculous Mandarin, to name but a few. Unlike Athena emerging fully formed from the forehead of Zeus, Bartok gradually honed his highly personal style over several decades by means of emulation, experimentation and sheer imagination. This disc represents the journeyman phase in the composer’s career. All of the works included here are meticulously worked out, technically proficient and quite appealing. Glimpses of things to come permeate the music. With the exception of the Two Portraits (especially the heart breaking #1, beautifully performed by Michael Ludwig, the departing concertmaster of the Buffalo P.O.), nothing here ignites the senses as does the mature Bartok. Nonetheless, Falletta and her orchestra do a commendable job in underscoring the sundry merits of this youthful material with taut, robust readings. Producer Tim Handley’s tight miking projects a realistic orchestral image with a surplus of detail and low frequency energy. The outstanding liner notes make very absorbing reading.