Bartók wrote the Romanian Folk Dances for piano in 1915, then arranged them two years later for orchestra. The keyboard set consists of seven dances in six movements, but in the orchestral version Bartók split the finale, which contains two Maruntels, into two separate movements. It hardly matters, since recordings of these dances usually play the pair without a break, or without a discernible break. However separate or united this dance is with the last one, it stands apart from it even if it is related thematically, not least because of its less manic character and more festive atmosphere. Its theme, heard just twice, is celebratory and full of color in its triumph and folkish gaiety. In a way, it would be difficult not to run this dance into the final one in any performance, not only because of the thematic links between them but because this Maruntel lasts a mere 20 seconds or so, standing as a stub, but one that will flower in the even faster and more colorful finale in an effervescent variant.
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Description by Robert Cummings