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Zoltan Kodaly: Theater Overture / Concerto for Orchestra / Dances of Marosszék / Symphony in C - BBC Philharmonic / Yan Pascal Tortelier

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 27, 2000
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Concerto for orchestra
  2. Symphony in C major: Allegro
  3. Symphony in C major: Andante moderato
  4. Symphony in C major: Vivo


Product Details

  • Performer: Zoltan Kodaly, Yan Pascal Tortelier, BBC Philharmonic
  • Audio CD (June 27, 2000)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Chandos
  • ASIN: B00004SUD3
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,871 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Kodaly, along with Bartok, is well-known to have wandered rural Hungary and recorded folk music, learning the musical traditions of gypsy's and rural communities; the influence of Hungarian folk music in his own compositions is overtly apparent. While his Hary Janos Suite, Peacock Variations, and Galanta Dances are his most well known today, Chandos provides a CD of his lesser known symphonic works: Symphony, Concerto for Orchestra, Theater Overture, and the better known Marrosszek Dances.

The 15-minute Theater Overture was originally conceived as the overture to Hary Janos. The overture has many varied sections, but a unifying theme of a rising 5th in syncopation, adds cohesion. A glimpse of a folk dance appears with woodwind tendencies and rhythmic accompaniment. More compelling however, is the 16-minute Concerto for Orchestra. In 5 sections, the fast and bouncy opening, again the 5th is the recurring motive, is used in Sections 1, 3, and 5, while the Largo appears in 2 and 4. The sound is typical Kodaly fare; but what makes this unique, is the unusual voicings; he pits the full ensemble against combinations of soloists or sections. The solo string ensemble in the Largo very much sounds like a chamber group, and the brass chorale evokes some modalism. The faster portions utilize soloists and sections too, but with virtuosity and for mere moments of time. Concerto for Orchestra has nice melodies and harmonies, but it is the orchestration that is high in interest.

Dances of Marrosszek, like Dances of Galanta, is a sort-of fantasy of 4 or 5 tunes from the district of Marrosszek in Transylvania. A lumbering melody opens the work, and reappears between each of the following melodies. Full of tunefulness, the melodies explore the pastoral to urban dances from Romania.
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Format: Audio CD
This is a highly enterprising album. Unlike the Dances of Marosszek, the other works on this disc are relatively little known (and recorded no more than a handful of occasions). Like the overture to Nielsen's opera "Maskarade", the Theater Overture (to Hary Janos) conveys, with great effectiveness, the entire scheme and blueprints of the theatrical work and conductors were right in treating the Overture as an independent piece. The Overture is remarkably vivid and virtuosic, somewhat inheriting pinches of the Offenbach's wittiness and sparkle.

Equally inventive, perhaps more so, is the Concerto for Orchestra (1941). As with Myaskovsky's Twenty-first Symphony and Sir William Walton's overture "Scapino", Kodaly's Concerto was written by commission of the Chicago Symphony for its jubilee anniversary celebrations. Interesting enough, both works of Myaskovsky & Kodaly share one common trait, variations in tempi (Myaskovsky's with six contrasting sections, Kodaly's with five), with the slow sections especially meditative, lucid, and to an extent introspective. But, where Myaskovsky's instrumentation is straightforward, Kodaly uses solo instrumental groups against larger orchestral forces that adds to the spiciness of the work.

The Symphony in C Major (1961) is Kodaly's late work, and a tuneful, attractive one at that, well thematically coherent, pleasingly orchestrated, and well argued. The first two movements are compelling, with the second that is gripping in its meditative feel and nostalgic yearning (a homage to the past of sort). The finale has a good deal going for it, even if its materials are a bit empty and routine. Nevertheless, this is a well-crafted symphony that relinquishes its own rewards upon repeated listening.
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Format: Audio CD
I completely agree with my colleuge David Hollingsworth about the vivideness and the charm all the works of Kodaly in this CD are played by the BBC Philharmonic under the button of Yan Pascal Tortelier. I'd like just to praise Tortelier for the new and modern themes he put into the performance of the Maroszek Dances and the Symphony in C major. Unless Mr. Hollingsworth I don't view the Symphony as one of Kodaly less stronger works but more as a work that tried to culminate his entire preception of musical education.
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Format: Audio CD
There're plenty of recordings of two of the works on this disc (probably more than 20 of the Marosszek Dances) so it must be popular works, and Tortelier and his team have to have a special reason why they record it again for full price. After hearing the performances of the Overture and the Dances I again couldn't imagine why they did: decent readings but without the joy I recall having heard more than once in Budapest by native orchestras. It's in your blood or not. Try Dorati on Decca (I think it's out of print now) and you'll understand what I mean.
I thought the Symphony and the Concerto faired better in these performances. That has been done too on Decca by Dorati and the Philharmonica Hungarica but those recordings are unavailable. The Chandos recording is better, but Decca's vintage 70s sound is also good. I think Tortelier is better in French music (try Boulanger).
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