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Cat. No. CHAN 9811 Price: Ł10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 9811 - Kodaly: Symphony
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Available From: 20 April 2000
The overture to Háry Janos, a Singspiel about a veteran soldier recounting his heroic by imaginary exploits, was recast as the Theatre Overture in 1927, then revised between 1929 and 1932. Its success as an independent work is sealed by the way in which Kodály summarises the drama rather than introducing it.

At the suggestion of Toscanini, Kodály produced a vivid orchestral arrangement in 1929 of his Dances of Marozzsék, written for the piano between 1923 and 1927. The orchestral version, a semitone higher than the original, has an overall tonality of D, a particularly resonant key for the stringed instruments. The work is based on six songs and dances from the area around the Transylvanian town of Marosszék.

The Concerto for Orchestra was commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and first performed in 1941. The work displays a number of stylistic links with Baroque music, dance rhythms recalling verbunkos music and the inevitable influence of Hungarian folksong.

Toscanini also proposed to Kodály that he should write a new symphonic piece, and in the late 1930s the first thematic ideas of the Symphony appeared to him on a trolleybus in Budapest. He gathered sketches for many years, and by the 1950s it was finished with the help of a commission from the Swiss Festival Orchestra. Structured according to classical models, he chooses not to dwell on the abstract and weighty philosophical issues that composers from Beethoven onwards customarily address when writing symphonies, instead providing a distillation of his entire stylistic resources and hence an affirmation of his life’s work.

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