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BBC Proms 2021 : Prom 31 : Bartók Roots [sound recording]

by BBC Radio 3, Béla Bartók (Composer)

Other authors: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (Orchestra), Simon Broughton (Contributor), Folktone (Ensemble), Patricia Kopatchinskaja (Violin), Kate Molleson (Presenter)1 more, Ilan Volkov (Conductor)

Series: BBC Proms 2021 (31), BBC Proms Sound Recordings (202131)

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There’s a sepia photo of Bartók out collecting folksongs in what is now the Czech Republic in 1907, phonograph at the ready. The music he recorded didn’t just preserve a vanishing way of life, it also resonated for decades through his compositions.

In the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s final prom this season, conducted by Ilan Volkov, the folk tunes didn’t so much resonate as bite back – as if someone had dropped the needle on to Bartók’s field recordings midway through one of his own works. The British-Hungarian Folktone band opened the concert with ornate melodies and toe-tapping syncopation. When the band’s violinist “passed” his note to soloist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, who launched into some blustering passagework from Bartók’s Violin Concerto No 2, you’d have been forgiven for thinking that was it. But moments later, Folktone was back, morphing Bartók’s concerto back into the musical language that had inspired it.

The interruptions were clever (and there were more before the concerto proper began). Folktone’s colourful grittiness made new sense of Kopatchinskaja’s virtuosically managed palette of sounds – from the exuberant catch of bow on string to barely there legato, curling like smoke out of the orchestral fabric. Above all, though, it was Kopatchinskaja’s own characterisation of every note that made the performance so compelling. She danced and grinned through an encore (Ligeti’s Hungarian folk-inspired Balada si Joc), in which she ricocheted tunes backwards and forwards to the orchestra’s leader before briefly sweeping the orchestra itself into the joyous musical whirlwind.

Alone on stage for Bartók’s Suite No 2 – a piece with looser connections to the Hungarian folk music that preceded it after the interval – the BBCSSO gave a committed but less vivid performance. Despite flashes of late-Romantic ardour and full-throated woodwind solos, a bolder approach was needed to match the vibrant musical personality of the first half.
added by kleh | editThe Guardian, Flora Willson (Aug 29, 2021)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
BBC Radio 3primary authorall editionscalculated
Bartók, BélaComposermain authorall editionsconfirmed
BBC Scottish Symphony OrchestraOrchestrasecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Broughton, SimonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
FolktoneEnsemblesecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kopatchinskaja, PatriciaViolinsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Molleson, KatePresentersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Volkov, IlanConductorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed

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Live at the BBC Proms: the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Ilan Volkov, and Patricia Kopatchinskaja, perform Bartók alongside traditional Hungarian music from Folktone Band.

Live from the Royal Albert Hall, London
Presented by Kate Molleson

Bartok: Violin Concerto No. 2

c. 8.15pm
Live Interval: Simon Broughton, co-editor of the Rough Guide to World Music, shares his knowledge of Hungarian music traditions.

c. 8.40pm
Bartok: Suite No. 2

Patricia Kopatchinskaja, violin
Folktone Band
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Ilan Volkov, conductor

In a memorable Prom in 2019, violinist Pekka Kuusisto took Sibelius’s Violin Concerto back to its roots in Finnish folk music. Now the dazzling, fearless Patricia Kopatchinskaja takes up the challenge, tracing the same evolution from traditional Hungarian songs and dances to Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 2. The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and conductor Ilan Volkov explore the rough-hewn rhythms and the lyrical melodies that unite Bartók’s Violin Concerto with the Magyar music that so fascinated the composer.

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