Bridges : Journey Through East European Music
Program Notes. Written by Dr. Vincent Corrigan, professor of musicology and harpsichord at Bowling Green State University. Serenade for 2 Violins and Viola Op. 12 Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967) In the first decades of the 20th century, Kodály and Bartók were the most prominent names associated with Hungarian nationalism in music. The two were life-long friends, having spent considerable time together in collecting Hungarian folk music, but their compositional styles were very different. While Bartók cultivated a style as independent as possible from the past, Kodály inclined to traditional forms and, to a certain extent, harmonic and rhythmic structures. Kodály's Serenade Op. 12 (1920-21), the culminating work of his early chamber music period, exhibits many of these traits. The first movement is in sonata form, where much of the movement is dominated by the rhythmic pattern heard in the first measure. In fact, it is absent for a prolonged period only during the lyrical second theme. The third movement is sectional with aspects of both sonata form and variations. The thematic recall is customary of the sonata, while the similar rhythmic and melodic motives in each section reflect variation principle. The second movement is the most unusual. Cast in ternary form, it consists of a dialogue between the viola and first violin against the harmonic background of muted tremolos in the second violin. Here Kodály approaches Bartók's more acerbic harmonic style, and not surprisingly, Bartok particularly admired this movement: "We find ourselves in a fairy world never dreamed of before." Balada for Violin and Piano, Op. 29 Ciprian Porumbescu (1853-1883) Before his untimely death at age 29, Porumbescu pursued a remarkably active career as a composer, choirmaster, conductor, teacher, music educator, and writer. He had studied in Vienna with Bruckner, among others, and, after his return to Romania, participated in all aspects of Romanian musical life as concert and festival organizer, song composer, and performer. His music became emblematic of late 19th-century Romanian nationalism. Porumbescu is credited with being one of the founders of Romanian instrumental composition, and the Balada, is one of the works on which this reputation rests. A mournful melody alternates, in the manner of a rondo, with two other sections of a different sentiment or tempo. The piece concludes with the initial melody. First Rhapsody Béla Bartók (1881-1945) The First Rhapsody was composed 1928, nearly simultaneously with Second Rhapsody. There are three versions of this piece: Violin and Piano (the first, prepared in 1928), Violin and Orchestra, and Cello and Piano. It is dedicated to violinist József Szigeti, who, along with Zoltán Székely, advised Bartók on his violin compositions of the 1920s and 1930s. The work is in the form of a verbunkos, consisting of a slow introductory section, the Lassú, and a following fast section, the Friss, the same format that Liszt and others used for their Hungarian-inspired works. Bartók allowed for the possibility that the two movements could be played separately, and provided an alternative ending for the Friss in case it was played alone. It is this alternative ending that appears in the version for violin and piano. Duos for 2 Violins Béla Bartók The 44 Duos for Two Violins began life in 1930 as a contribution to an anthology of violin music compiled by the German music educator Eric Dorflein. But Bartók far exceeded Dorflein's request. By May he had completed and sent to Dorflein 16 duos, and by September the collection of 44 was finished. Dorflein himself published 18 of them in his anthology, and Universal of Vienna issued the complete set in 1933. Forty-two of the duos are based on folk songs and dances from Central and Eastern Europe, the fruits of Bartók's ethnomusicological work. Two of the duos (#35, Ruthenian Kolomejka; #36 Bagpipes) are original compositions in the style of folk melody. Although the title of the collection is 44 Duos, there are actually 45 pieces. Number 36 (Bagpipes) consists of the piece itself and, as a separate entry, a variant that alters the rhythm of the drone and adds grace notes to the melody. This recording gives the variant only. #10 Ruthenian Song #14 Cushion Dance #15 Soldiers' Song #17 Marching Song 1 #18 Marching Song 2 #32 Dance from Máramaros #35 Ruthenian Kolomejka [Original theme] #36 Bagpipes [Original Theme] #40 Romanian Dance #44 Transylvanian Dance The Lark (Ciocârlia) Most listeners recognize The Lark (Ciocârlia) from the electrifying conclusion to George Enescu's Romanian Rhapsody No. 1. It's history is unclear. Perhaps it's origins lie in folk music; this would explain the variety of adaptations it enjoys. In the 19th century it was associated with Ciprian Porumbescu, who may have arranged it, and the violinist Anghelus Dinicu, who popularized it. By the early 20th century it had become emblematic of Romania, when Enescu used it in his Rhapsody, and Gigoras Dinicu (1889-1949), grandson of Anghelus, arranged it for violin. The many other adaptations include arrangements for string quartet, mixed instrumental ensembles, panpipes, guitar, accordion, dulcimer, and of course violin and piano, including Dinicu's own setting. Part of the charm of these arrangements is the opportunity it affords the soloist to engage in extravagant birdcalls as a cadenza. This makes every performance unique, and every performer has a personal version. This is Vasile's.