Bartok’s percussiveness

Bartok piano sonata

Murray Perahia performs Bartok’s piano sonata and more…

When the piano of the 1700’s matured around 1800 towards the type of keyboard instrument we have today, Ludwig van Beethoven made use of the technological innovations to communicate emotion and drama quite fully. He did so in compositions such as the “Hammerklavier” sonata, and many other works.

Composer Bela Bartok went even further: In his piano sonata, the percussive aspects of the instrument are moved forward much further. And… appropriately so. After all, the piano transitioned from being a plucked instrument in the old days, to one whose string were struck by a felt-covered hammer.

In this CD, Murray Perahia applies himself forcefully to some of Bartok’s greatest piano music. The composer single-handedly reinvented piano sonority, famously using the piano as a percussion instrument that it became, and employing it for stark melodic lines underpinned by hammering rhythms, especially in the first movement.

The Sonata, composed in 1926, features both percussive  and emotional aspects. Perahia doesn’t hold back in any of the fiercer passages, and the listener is in for an exciting audio experience.

Here is Lang Lang, playing a section of this sonata:



And here’s the second movement of the same sonata:



Tags: Bela Bartok, Piano sonata

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