On April 10, conductor Leonard Slatkin and pianist Jon Kimura Parker will join the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra for their twelfth concert of the 2020/2021 Season.
THE STORY BEHIND: Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances
Title: Romanian Folk Dances, BB 76
Composer: Béla Bartók (1881-1945)
Last time performed by the Rhode Island Philharmonic: Last performed April 20, 1954 with Francis Madeira conducting. This piece is scored for flute, piccolo, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns and strings.
During the first two decades of the 20th century, Béla Bartók was active as a folk music collector. Partly in collaboration with compatriot Zoltán Kodály, Bartók went about the countryside recording and transcribing the peasant music of his native country, Hungary. After 1911, Bartók became increasingly interested in the music of cultures peripheral to Hungary, notably Slovakia and Romania. As was his habit, he made piano arrangements of a considerable amount of the raw material he collected. These adaptations would usually feature a generous helping of Bartók’s personal, pungent harmonies and dissonant treatments. Such was the case with the Romanian Folk Dances, all based on Romanian fiddle tunes. The collection was completed in 1915. Two years later, the composer transcribed the piano pieces for small orchestra.
The set opens with a Stick Dance, a spirited game from Transylvania. The brief, quick Sash Dance originated in a district now located in Yugoslavia. In One Spot is the third, slower dance with a bagpipe-like accompaniment. The Hornpipe Dance from Transylvania has a delicate, minuet-like tempo and phrase pattern. In contrast, the bright Romanian Polka has an almost ceaseless melody cast in an asymmetrical beat pattern of 3 + 3 + 2. The set concludes with two brisk movements, each marked simply Fast Dance. This dance type comes from a district on the borders of Hungary and Transylvania.
Program Notes by Dr. Michael Fink © 2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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