Friday, October 16, 2009

Programming Question

So what would you program with the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra?
Mike came up with the following: Dohnanyi's sly and wonderful Variations on a Nursery Rhyme plus Kodaly's Dances for Galanta or Liszt's Mephisto Waltz. I suggested swapping out the Liszt or Kodaly for a couple of Brahms Hungarian Dances. The Concerto might also work well with Petroushka or another Stravinsky orchestral work. Or some Debussy, though I am stumped as to exactly what. Or...how about the Janacek Sinfonietta?

I wonder, though, if the best companion to Bartok isn't more Bartok. If you were a little insane, you could start with the Concerto and put all three of the piano concertos on the second half; they fit neatly on one CD, so why not? Go ahead and hire more than one pianist, since even the Third is not exactly easy. Or conclude with A Kékszakállú Herceg Vára, better known in these parts as Duke Bluebeard's Castle. The openings of Bluebeard and the Concerto even sound alike.

9 comments:

Joe Shelby said...

There are other references to Bluebeard in the Bartok Concerto. At one point in the 4th movement is very clearly a more developed version of the "pool of tears" of the 7th door scene from the opera.

For myself, I see the Concerto as part of its time, and would myself program it with Stravinsky's Symphony in Three. In the same way that Bartok's Concerto harkens back to his past, so too the Symphony in Three in a sense is a reference point to the classic Stravinsky of the Ballet Russe works.

Steve Hicken said...

I live in my own little world, I know, but I'd play the Lutoslawski and Carter Concertos for Orchestra along with the Bartok.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Good thoughts, Joe, thank you.

Steve, whoa, that's a great program.

calimac said...

I think that what I'd want on a CD with the Bartok is different from what I'd want on a concert program with it. For a CD, all the above suggestions are great. For a concert, I'd want something resonant but not so much akin, to let its unique qualities shine out more.

Geo. said...

My own variation on Mike's idea for the 1st half of such a concert would be:

Kodaly: Peacock Variations
Dohnanyi: Variations on a Nursery Tune

Saint Russell said...

What was the program for the Concerto's first performance, by Koussevitzky in Boston? I couldn't find any information online.

Bluebeard would go nicely, but to me both works seem like second-half items.

For an all-1940s program, I'd put Strauss' Four Last Songs before the intermission. But what to open with?

Lisa Hirsch said...

Oh, you won't believe it: the overture to Idomeneo and Franck's D minor Symphony were on the first half of the program. The information is in Google Book Search.

calimac said...

The same result is also in a regular Google search, so perhaps the problem was choosing the wrong search terms, or not being able to recognize from the abbreviated result that it contained the answer buried within it.

Saint Russell said...

calimac: Exactly so. I found the same source Lisa pointed to, but my skimming of it was insufficient.

That is an odd program! At least the folks who left at intermission, in order to avoid the new modern piece, probably got reasonable value for money.