Bartók: I. piano competition
Bartók: The wonderful mandarin
Conductor: János Kovács
Béla Bartók’s (1881-1945) First Piano Concerto was performed in July 1927 in Frankfurt am Main by Wilhelm
Conducted by Furtwängler, soloist by the author. Bartók intended this work to be a real “authorial” concert, so that he would be an advocate of his own music as a pianist with the great orchestras of Europe. When he wrote Piano Concerto No. 1, Stravinsky’s 1926 concert in Budapest was a fresh experience for him. The work is composed of three movements according to the classical concerto style. The first movement of the piano concerto (Allegro moderato) is cruel, brittle
and yet it is filled with the music of a heated struggle with passions. The slow second movement (Andante) is another surprise,
as if it were the early forerunner of the sonata written for the two pianos and percussion instruments, this stunning, tense pregnant woman,
even in its movement, there is an almost motionless dialogue between the solo instrument and the variously handled percussion instruments. The item
the intimate, confessional melody of the middle part – in the performance of the piano – contrasts with the previous function of the solo instrument. The finale (Allegro molto) again uses Baroque style elements, this time chasing the voices,
it is virtuoso and yet dramatically connected to old music, but in its content and message it is also new,
original and stunning music. The wonderful mandarin is the ballet music of Béla Bartók, which the author is only “one
called a pantomime ”. Bartók put it this way: “On an Apache homestead, three Apachians force a young girl to seduce men, who are then robbed.
… The girl is disgusted with the mandarin, but eventually she fulfills her wish,… by the time she spreads dead, lifeless. ”
What was important to Bartók was not the raw realist story, but the humanity inherent in it: being in the big city,
the suffering of the human soul oppressed by daily life and the redemption of that suffering, which is possible only in love.