Composer: Zoltán Kodály (b. 1882 - d. 1967)
Performance date: 29/06/2018
Venue: Bantry Library
Composition Year: 1882 - 1967
Recording Engineer: Tom Norton, RTÉ
Instrumentation: 2vn, va, vc
Ella van Poucke -
Mairead Hickey - [violin]
Zoltán Kodály was on holiday in the Alps in July
1914 and, on the outbreak of war, was forcibly evacuated as all the hotels were
closing down. In the resulting confusion he was stuck for several days at
Feldkirch on the Austrian border, where he wrote the first movement of his Duo
Sonata in a school music exercise book. Everything about this gripping work is
both magnificent and strange, you can hear the towering mountains and the
advent of War closing in as the composer rides roughshod over all established
musical conventions creating fascinating challenges for these two young star
Kodály was a contemporary and fellow-student of Bartók and
shared his obsession with Hungarian folk music.
They both toured the countryside studying, transcribing and recording
hundreds of folksongs and, in their different ways, they both incorporated
their resulting sense of the nation’s musical speech into their writing. Kodály
later founded the Institute of Folk Music Research of the Hungarian Academy of
Science, which now has categorised records of over 100,000 folksongs of the
people of Hungary and of surrounding and related countries.
surprisingly, Kodály’s compositional output is dominated by around 150 works
for unaccompanied chorus, but his fascination with the intonation and rhythms
of language translated into a small but remarkable body of instrumental writing
which displays a preoccupation with enabling instruments not only to sing his
ideas but to speak them in an eloquent kind of recitative.
movement finds us caught up in a vibrant dialogue in which the two voices
alternately accompany and comment on the other’s thoughts; disagreements begin
to emerge and are voiced with increasing passion until a resolution leads to a
restatement of the opening material.
This time we are led to the close of the movement with a quiet sense of
singing opening of the Adagio creates an aura of eerie beauty that gives way to
an impassioned central section in which the conflicts of the first movement
arise again; but soon the instruments reunite and sing together through a
series of varied recitatives until the opening song reappears. The movement
draws to an end with a sense of wearied resignation. The last movement is full
of snatches of folk-song, sometimes with bustling, vigorous accompaniment,
sometimes presented with a stark simplicity. This unique work with its many
moods ends with a presto, climactic flourish.
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