Theme and Variations

Thoughts and experiences of exploring classical, jazz, and other art music.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Bela Bartok

I'm skipping ahead slightly to cover two recordings in my collection of composer Bela Bartok. This will be a short entry, so I thought I'd write them up now while the music is still fresh in my ears.

The first CD features the Concerto for Orchestra along with Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta. Though I like the idea of a concerto for the entire orchestra, I can't say that Bartok's composition is to my taste. Atonal, dissonant music is really beyond my comprehension, despite Robert Greenberg's attempts at explaining it in his Teaching Company course How to Listen to and Understand Great Music. I can't distinguish between the themes and the bridges and the cadence material.

The second Bartok CD in my collection has piano concerti nos. 2 and 3, as well as Romanian Folkdances for Piano. There are some lyric passages in the adagio of the third concerto I like, and the folkdances are somewhat enjoyable. But overall, as in the first CD, the music leaves me cold and bewildered.

My wife would ask me, "Well, if you don't like the CD's, why do you keep them?" I remember a time when I hated (as well as failed to understand) opera, which is now among one of my favorite musical pastimes. I keep hoping that someone or something will explain music such as Bartok's in a way that I will appreciate it. So far, however, it's beyond my musical comprehension.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try the fourth movement of Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra. Listen to what occurs in the deep bass strings at 01:21. Then tell me you still feel the same.

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