Bela Bartok was one of the most influential composers of the twentieth century. This new recording give us an opportunity to listen to two of his major compositions.
Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra and Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta
Concerto for Orchestra, BB 123, Sz.116
Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta, BB 114, Sz. 106
Performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
Bela Bartok’s brilliant work, the Concerto for Orchestra is coupled with his spine-tingling Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta are featured in this new recording with the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Rafael Kubelik and Seiji Ozawa.
Bartok’s at times breezily energetic Concerto for Orchestra was an instant hit on its premiere given by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1944 and it has remained popular ever since. It’s a compelling work, bursting with Central European folk melodies, North African rhythms, shimmering harmonies and vivid orchestration that culminates in a strident final movement guaranteed to bring the house down.
In a darker vein, Bartok’s earlier Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta is a powerful and eerily atmospheric work which has been used in film soundtracks to great effect, notably in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.
Here is the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra, conducted by one of my great favorites, Georg Solti: