Saturday, July 7, 2012

Witold Lutoslawski Bela Bartok Musique funebre ECM New Series 2012

Dark, foreboding, a study in music as evocative as the legendary ECM cover art pictured. While from a pure historical perspective the young Bartok came in at the tail end of the late romantic period, Bela Bartok was profoundly influenced by Claude Debussy and is regarded as one of the most significant composers of the 20th century and rightful stands along side Liszt as Hungary's greatest composer.
Bartok careful and incredibly analytical study of folk music allows his to certainly lay claim as one of the founders of ethnomusicology.

This recording features Dennis Russel Davies conducting the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra along with a special appearance by the Hungarian Radio Children's Choir. Musique funebre is the first new release for Davis and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra and is a master work of dynamics and an incredibly open window into the creative mind of a program of deep evocative music of mourning but seemingly to conclude with the positive and uplifting voices of the Hungarian Radio Children's Choir from works written between 1935 and 1936.

This incredibly thoughtful and thought provoking music was the end result of the dramatic influence Bartok had over the musical legacy of Witold Lutoslawski. A quote from Lutoslawski describes Musique funebre as a one movement work for strings dedicated to Bartok on the tenth anniversary of his death. Steeped in passion and rich in dynamic contrast, this is some of the most cerebral music from the ECM New Series to date. The historical impact of Bartok and his study of Hungarian folk music and laid the ground work for a significant portion of modern music today based on the asymmetrical rhythmic patterns surrounded by the shifting harmonic patterns and meter.

"Divertimento" was written just before Bartok came to the United States with the general consensus that Bartok must have been aware that leaving Europe and its traditions at a time when the light of cultural enlightenment was about to be dimmed was indeed a perplexing notion.

While European folk music is often misinterpreted there is a deceptively subtle joy that springs forth throughout this stellar recording. The simplicity of life and purity of creation transcend the somewhat more brooding notion that European folk music is not culturally significant outside of the country of origin.

A stunning work of great depth and delightful simplicity.