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Cat. No. CHAN 9761 Price: Ł10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 9761 - Bartok: Piano Works
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Medtner: Piano Works, Vol. 7:
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Available From: 21 October 1999
Three of Bartók’s works- the Sonata, Out of Doors and Nine Little Pieces – come from a year of rediscovery of the piano – 1926. The Sonata is a work of remarkable motivic and rhythmical unity. In the first movement, the basic idea is of an interval on a minor third divided into two seconds. The harsh harmony is matched by driving rhythm. Bartók played the Sonata in Budapest in 1926 in a concert that also included the first and last movements of Out of Doors and all but one of the Nine Little Pieces. This last group is a scrapbook of the period divided into three miniature volumes which comprise a set of four two-part essays, a small-scale suite with interpretations of eitghteenth-century dances and, by itself, the Preludio – all ungherese.

Out of Doors is a set of character pieces of the sort Bartók had written in his twenties but takes into account recent developments in his style. Indeed, the first piece, ‘With Drums and Pipes’, is close to the first movement of the Sonata, and the last, ‘The Chase’, is the extreme instance of his obsession with repetition during this period.

The other works here are from a time of previous absorption with the piano, during World War I. He was unable to visit Romania which was his source of folksongs, and so travelled inside his head, classifying the material he had gathered before the war and arranging some pieces for concert performance. Each set that resulted was not just a collection but a work. The Fifteen Hungarian Peasant Songs (1914-1918) almost constitute a sonata, the melodies are all from folksongs, but Bartók’s variations, harmonisations and textural complementation go beyond the score of mere arrangement.

In the Romanian pieces of 1915 – which include the Sonatina as well as the Folk Dances and the Christmas Carols – he set his material more simply, placing each folk tune in an apt and slender context that could be varied for one or two repeats to create a small strophic form.

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