Stuttgarter Kammerorchester & Dennis Russell Davies – Lutoslawski / Bartok: Musique Funebre (2012) [HighResAudio FLAC 24bit/44,1kHz]

Stuttgarter Kammerorchester & Dennis Russell Davies – Lutoslawski / Bartok: Musique Funebre (2012)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 01:00:37 minutes | 566 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: | Digital Booklet | © ECM

Dennis Russell Davies has had a long-running and highly productive association with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra – documented on exceptional ECM recordings of repertoire from Mozart to Kancheli – and is currently the orchestra’s Conductor Laureate. Here he leads them through spirited performances of Bartók’s “Divertimento”, “Romanian Folk Dances” and “Seven Songs” (on which the orchestra is joined by the Hungarian Radio Children’s Choir.) This selection of lively Bartók pieces is viewed through the prism of Wittold Lutosalwaski’s “Musique funèbre”, written in memory of the great Hungarian composer, and first performed on the 10th anniversary of Bartók’s death. It’s an important, and moving, piece (and one which also led to international recognition for Lutoslawski).

Dennis Russell Davies directs a programme of Bartók and Lutosławski with characteristic insight and flair. The conductor laureate of the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, Davies was from 1995-2006 its chief conductor, and the deep musical understanding established during his tenure is reflected here. “Musique Funèbre”, the first new ECM disc from Davies and the Stuttgarter Kammerorchester in seven years is titled for the Witold Lutoslawski composition which opens it, a piece written to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Béla Bartók’s death. The album looks at Bartók’s work through the prism of Lutoslawski’s powerful homage, beginning with dark impassioned music of mourning but concluding with the brightly optimistic voices of children – as the Hungarian Radio Children’s Choir sing songs from the Two and Three Part Chorus collections of 1935/6.
The “Funeral Music”, influenced in its overall shape by Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, is frequently instanced as the work that defined Lutoslawski’s mature style, a turning point in his artistic development. It established his reputation far beyond the borders of his native Poland, and won him a first prize at the UNESCO competition in Paris in 1959. In his programme note for the music Lutoslawski wrote, “This work for strings is dedicated to the memory of Bela Bartók. Musique Funebre is a one-movement work made up of four linked sections: ‘Prologue’, ‘Metamorphosis’, ‘Apogeum’ and ‘Epilogue’. The first is constructed in the form of alternating canons based on a 12-tone row based exclusively on tritones and minor seconds. The ‘Metamorphosis’ builds up to a violent presto, while the ‘Apogeum’, the centre of the work, leads to a central unison by contraction of the pitches used. The final ‘Epilogue’ begins fortissimo, after which the canons reappear until only a solo cello remains.”

Bartók’s influence on Lutoslawski cannot be overestimated, “not in his uncompromising intellectual attitude, not in the seriousness with which he came to terms with the musical tendencies of his time, and not in the value he placed upon Bartók’s source studies in folk music”, as Wolfgang Sandner writes in the CD booklet. For Bartók the Hungarian folk heritage was both a musical treasure trove in its own right and, in its modes, its asymmetrical rhythms and metrical shifts, a great source of inspiration for the creation of modern music. The pieces programmed here touch on both aspects.

The Romanian Folk Dances are arrangements of folk melodies Bartók collected on travels through Transylvania. The Two and Three Part Chorus songs, meanwhile are pieces “in the style of folk music” written at the urging of his friend Zoltán Kodály. “Divertimento” was written just before Bartók’s emigration to the USA. “He was probably aware,” Sandner surmises, “that with this work he was not only taking leave of Europe and its traditions. He must have sensed that Europe as he knew it was about to disappear into the darkness of history. Sonata form and rondo as outer movements of the Divertimento, with its evanescent Magyarisms, almost take on an aspect of desperate compositional measures…”


Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
1 Musique funèbre (1954-1958) 13:55

Béla Bartók (1881-1945)
2 Romanian Folk Dances, BB 76 (1917) 06:26
3 Divertimento, BB 118: Allegro non troppo 09:03
4 Divertimento, BB 118: Molto adagio 09:47
5 Divertimento, BB 118: Allegro assai 07:31

27 Two and Three-Part Choruses Sz. 103, BB 111 for children’s or female chorus & piano (or orchestra)
6 Hussar 01:42
7 Don’t leave here! 01:46
8 Loafer’s Song 00:45
9 Wandering 02:30
10 Bread-baking 02:20
11 Only tell me 03:22
12 Jeering 01:30

Hungarian Radio Children’s Choir
Stuttgarter Kammerorchester
Dennis Russell Davies, conductor



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