7.FOLKLORE AND HUNGARIAN DANCES
Maison symphonique de Montréal
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
Kent Nagano, conductor
Patricia Kopatchinskaja, violin, GRAMMY award winner for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble performance
Bartók, Violin Concerto No. 1, Sz. 36 (22 min.)
Kodály, Dances of Galánta (15 min.)
Brahms, Hungarian Dance No. 6 (5 min.)
Video excerpt from the Berliner Philharmoniker and Iván Fischer
Bartók composed his First Violin Concerto early in his career, when he was still synthesizing such diverse influences as Wagner, Debussy, and Eastern European folk music. The Concerto was written in 1907–1908 for the highly gifted young violinist Stefi Geyer. She and Bartók had a brief romantic attachment, and when it was over, Bartók sent her the autograph score with the inscription “My Confession: For Stefi, from times still happy.” The two-movement structure of this work, virtually unprecedented in concerto literature, reflects two different sides of its dedicatee. The warm and lyrical Andante sostenuto sounds almost like a love letter, an intimate portrait of the girl Bartók loved. The entire movement is built on a simple four-note triadic motive and its transformations. The fast, jovial, and virtuosic second movement, however, pays tribute to Geyer as an exceptional violinist.
The enduring friendship between Bartók and Zoltán Kodály grew from their mutual love of Hungarian folk music. They published a collection of Hungarian folksongs together in 1906, and Kodály especially continued to collect songs his whole life. Composed in 1933, Dances of Galánta is one of Kodály’s most popular works. The main source for the Dances is a volume of Hungarian folk music published in 1800, especially the section entitled The Bohemians of Galánta. Kodály’s music is vivid and entrancing, providing colourful and often virtuosic turns for all the instruments.
Brahms was first introduced to Hungarian music by Hungarian violinist Ede Reményi in 1853, and he revisited Hungarian themes throughout his career. He called his first sets of Hungarian dances, published in 1869, “genuine children of the Pusta and Gypsies – not begot by me, merely nourished by me on milk and bread.” Like most of his contemporaries, Brahms did not distinguish between music of the Romani people and Hungarian music. Originally composed for two pianos, these works have often been orchestrated; they show the composer’s deep feeling for folk rhythms and his spirited, uplifting side.
© Ariadne Lih, 2018
Kent Nagano has established an international reputation as one of the most insightful and visionary interpreters of both the operatic and symphonic repertoire. He is Music Director of the OSM since 2006. Maestro Nagano was General Music Director of the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich from 2006 to 2013. He became Principal Guest Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in 2013. Since 2015, he has been General Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Hamburg State Opera and Philharmonic Orchestra. Born in California, Kent Nagano spent his early professional years in Boston, working in the opera house and as Assistant Conductor to Seiji Ozawa at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He was Music Director of the Opéra national de Lyon (1988-1998), Music Director of the Hallé Orchestra (1991-2000), Associate Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra (1990-1998) and Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (2000-2006) and remains their Honorary Conductor. Kent Nagano was also the first Music Director of the Los Angeles Opera (2003-2006). As a much sought-after guest conductor, Maestro Nagano has worked with the Berlin, New York and Vienna Philharmonics, Chicago Symphony, Dresden Staatskapelle and Leipzig Gewandhaus, and at leading opera houses including the Opéra national de Paris, Berlin State Opera, Metropolitan Opera and Semperoper Dresden. He has won two Grammy awards for his recording of Kaija Saariaho’s L’amour de loin with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester and for Busoni’s Doktor Faust, recorded with the Opéra national de Lyon, among other awards. Maestro Nagano was named Commander of the Ordre de Montréal, Grand Officer of the Ordre national du Québec, Companion of the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec, and he was decorated with the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Medal.
Recent recordings with the OSM: A Quiet Place (Decca, 2018); Danse macabre (Decca, 2016); L’Aiglon (Decca, 2015); Saint-Saëns, Moussa, Saariaho: Symphony and New Works for Organ and Orchestra (Analekta, 2015); Complete Violin Concertos of Saint-Saëns (Analekta, 2015).
Recent tours with the OSM: Krakow and Salzburg (2018); United States (March 2016); China and Japan (October 2014); Europe (March 2014); and South America (April-May 2013).
Violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja’s versatility is reflected in her diverse repertoire, which ranges from baroque and classical works (which she will often perform on instruments with period features such as gut strings), to new commissions and reinterpretations of modern masterworks. Kopatchinskaja’s 2017–2018 season opened with the world premiere of her new project, Dies Irae at the Lucerne Festival, where she was “Artiste étoile”. Following the success of Bye Bye Beethoven with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in 2016, this second staged programme, Dies Irae, draws upon repertoires that span Gregorian chant to contemporary works. Kopatchinskaja was awarded the prestigious Swiss Grand Award for Music by the Switzerland Federal Office of Culture in September 2017. This season, she adds to her many successes a Grammy award in the category “Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance” for her recording Death and the Maiden, performed with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and released on the Alpha Classics label.To learn more about Patricia Kopatchinska.
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