Composer: Béla Bartók (b. 1881 - d. 1945)
Performance date: 29/06/2022
Venue: Bantry House
Composition Year: 1925
Recording Engineer: Eduardo Prado, Ergodos
Zoltán Fejérvári -
Béla Bartók [1881-1945]
Dance Suite [1923/1925]
2. Allegro Molto
3. Allegro Vivace
4. Molto Tranquillo
6. Finale. Allegro
Bartók’s Dance Suite has a reverse history to Ravel’s work, being originally written for orchestra before being reduced two years later for piano. This leads to a richly colourful piano work, intricate and with a complex texture. The orchestral version was commissioned by the city of Budapest to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the coming together of the Buda, Obuda and Pest. Premiered alongside new commissions by Kodály and Dohnányi, the reaction to Dance Suite was mixed, for which Bartók blamed the orchestra for not being adult enough, although after a later performance in Prague the reception was so positive that Bartók’s reputation gained an instant boost. Like other compositions from this period, Bartók is beginning to push the boundaries of dissonance and tonal ambiguity. Bartók’s fascination with the folk tunes of Eastern Europe inspired many of his works. While none of the tunes in Dance Suite are direct tunes that he collected, he acknowledged the influences from Arab, Hungarian and Romanian folk-tunes in the Suite. Like Bach, Bartók didn’t compose or rearrange this piece to accompany actual dancers, but in choosing to compose a suite of dances, there is an acknowledgement of the importance of dance in the diverse musical traditions into which he immersed himself. The variety of traditions he chose to draw from is a celebration of a unification that brought together different traditions into one city. Like Bach’s clavier dance music, there is an international character to the work, woven together in the creation of their own respectively unique compositional styles.
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