[…] and then Sir Georg Solti visited Buda with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and played the Bartók Concerto for orchestra. That great and very East-European composition every colour of which the musicians demonstrated from the Romanian folk music atmosphere to the memory and creed of the melody “You are fine and beautiful, Hungary” [which Bartók quotes in the fourth movement].
Those days have gone and this aristocratic taste vanished. Then a few years ago, Pierre Boulez too came to Buda where he gave a tied and lacklustre performance of Concerto and then dashed away.
Whether it happened exactly like this, or some other way, it no longer matters. It can't matter if there was a time when we had to go a long way back for something beautiful, when Fritz Reiner's 1946 recording was the most exciting. It has remained so until this day. Because from tomorrow, this honour goes to Zoltán Kocsis and the Hungarian Philharmonic Orchestra with their new Bartók disc and on it, the Concerto, which is number one in the world. The most perfect. The most refined. The best worked out. The solos are things of genius, the instruments are all in place. The musicians are not blurring the notes here, there and everywhere, the brass have no competition for sheer vitality, the playing of the strings is congenial. The Concerto finally (and once again) is not a vast full rumble, nor is its closing movement homogenous. The whole work is powerful, filled with tension yet not harsh. This is the moving performance of a great composition on the record of the year.
And we haven't even talked about Dance Suite! Because we cannot. It is so beautiful it makes us weep.