The National Philharmonic Orchestra opened the season with a Bartók concert.
The conductor Zoltán Kocsis also featured as a composer. Bartók transcribed five (nos. 1, 2, 11, 14, 12) of his Twenty Hungarian Folksongs (1929) for orchestra, but Kocsis now presented the whole work in an orchestral version. It is perhaps not an exaggeration to say that a new Bartók work has been born. Kocsis again proved he is a genius, who really is the reincarnation of the composer. He serves his master with unbelievable abilities of empathy, and experiences Bartók's way of thinking like a mother tongue. He raises these simple folksongs with miraculously handled percussion instruments and fantastic sensitivity for drama, to the dominion of tragedy and sometimes, broad comedy. It is terrible that because of legal problems, this important work cannot yet be recorded on CD. The orchestra played in grand style, although the soloists were less pleasing, Júlia Hajnóczy sang with a nice but weak voice, Dénes Gulyás who replaced the indisposed Attila Fekete, has a great sense of style but lacked communicative power. Mihály Kálmándi was adequate but sometimes overdid his role, while Márta Lukin this evening, was simply wanting. Next, the exceptionally gifted violinist Barnabás Kelemen played the First and Second Rhapsodies. He performed both frenetically, the first with great energy, the second showing that this work is far more than a simple folk setting. This was surpassed by the closing movement of the Solo Sonata which he gave as an encore.
After the break, Kocsis against proved beyond doubt with the Concerto that he has done remarkable work with this orchestra. It was played far swifter than usual (and they played the individual movements practically attaca!) and the perfect elaboration of the wood and brass sections was conspicuous (I have never heard the Game in Pairs movement performed this wittily), as was the flexible beauty of the sonority. The intense rhythm turned each moment into an event. An unforgettable evening. (Music Academy, September 25)
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