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01 Apr 2000
Originally recorded in 1999
Yan Pascal Tortelier
New Broadcasting House, Manchester
Dances of Marosszék
Orchestral & Concertos
Total Time - 70:50
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Concerto for Orchestra
Allegro risoluto - Largo - Tempo primo - Largo - Tempo primo
Dances of Marosszék
Maestoso, poco rubato - Con moto - Tempo primo, poco più largo - Moderato - Tempo primo - Vivace - Tempo primo - Allegro con brio
in C major - C-Dur - ut majeur
Andante moderato -
The BBC Philharmonic under the baton of Yan Pascal Tortelier perform a rich selection of works from Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály.
Both the Theatre Overture and Concerto for Orchestra are comparatively rare works with only one recording of each currently available in the catalogue.
Yan Pascal Tortelier and the BBC Philharmonic have an extremely strong recording partnership which has gone from strength to strength, and include a Gramophone Award winner in the Boulanger CHAN 9745.
Interestingly, throughout Kodály’s prolific career he wrote only nine works for orchestra, the most substantial of which are featured on this disc. His lifelong aim was to bring the musical riches of folksong to the public eye through his extensive work in music education. When asked why it had taken him ofer thirty years to complete his Symphony, he replied, ‘I was busy with more important work: I had to educate a public’.
The overture to Háry Janos, a Singspiel about a veteran soldier recounting his heroic by imaginary exploits, was recast as the Theatre Overture in 1927, then revised between 1929 and 1932. Its success as an independent work is sealed by the way in which Kodály summarises the drama rather than introducing it.
At the suggestion of Toscanini, Kodály produced a vivid orchestral arrangement in 1929 of his Dances of Marozzsék, written for the piano between 1923 and 1927. The orchestral version, a semitone higher than the original, has an overall tonality of D, a particularly resonant key for the stringed instruments. The work is based on six songs and dances from the area around the Transylvanian town of Marosszék.
The Concerto for Orchestra was commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and first performed in 1941. The work displays a number of stylistic links with Baroque music, dance rhythms recalling verbunkos music and the inevitable influence of Hungarian folksong.
Toscanini also proposed to Kodály that he should write a new symphonic piece, and in the late 1930s the first thematic ideas of the Symphony appeared to him on a trolleybus in Budapest. He gathered sketches for many years, and by the 1950s it was finished with the help of a commission from the Swiss Festival Orchestra. Structured according to classical models, he chooses not to dwell on the abstract and weighty philosophical issues that composers from Beethoven onwards customarily address when writing symphonies, instead providing a distillation of his entire stylistic resources and hence an affirmation of his life’s work.
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