Béla Bartók (1881-1945)

Concerto for Orchestra: II. Guioco delle coppie

“Performers must follow Bartok’s metronome marks. Those of us who are at home in the Hungarian musical idiom know that one cannot go wrong if one follows those indications” (Memoirs, 227). In preparing the work for recording with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1981, Solti was determined to follow Bartók’s metronome marks “slavishly.” In the work’s second movement, Guioco delle coppie, Solti found Bartók’s marking of 74 to the quarter note “very sluggish.” Gordon Peters, the CSO’s principal percussionist, indicated to Sir Georg that 94 was written in his part. “I checked with the Library of Congress, which owns the original manuscript, and 94 was confirmed as correct; 74 was a printer’s error that has been published and republished for over fifty years. Ninety-four is somewhat faster than the movement is usually performed, but it is a natural, fluent tempo – and that is how I did it.” Bartók’s work is one of the glories of the orchestral repertory and figured frequently in Solti’s programming. It was composed on commission from the Koussevitzky Music Foundation and was first performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Serge Koussevitzky conducting, on 1 December 1944. Solti programmed the work (along with Brahms’ First Symphony) for his sole appearance with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a Pension Fund Concert at Symphony Hall on 23 January 1979.

Béla Bartók. Concerto for Orchestra: II. Presentando le coppie. Perf. Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Recorded in Orchestra Hall, Chicago, January 1981 (Decca 400 052-1). Record Collection CD 24.

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