Barnabás Kelemen

Bartók: Violin Concerto; Rhapsodies for Violin & Orchestra

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Having formed close personal friendships with a number of prominent violinists of his time, Béla Bartók was never at a loss for a source of inspiration or requests to compose for the violin. Second only to his own instrument, the piano, the violin saw more compositions than any other. This Hungaroton Classic album presents another installment of violinist Barnabás Kelemen's survey of these complete works; this volume features three of the meatiest and most celebrated works of all: the First and Second rhapsodies and the concerto. The concerto is sometimes referred to as "Number Two" only because of Bartók's very early, youthful attempt at a concerto. Kelemen does far more than merely execute the substantial technical demands in each of these scores. He even does more than just "interpreting" Bartók's writing. Kelemen's sound really embodies the essence of Bartók. Particularly in the folk-tune-heavy rhapsodies, Kelemen's sound is gritty, dry, and stringent. In other words, it is ideally suited for reproducing folksy, peasant-like "fiddling" that so intrigued the composer. This is certainly not to say that Kelemen's playing is unrefined; there are moments when he's just as at home producing a warm, honeyed tone. But the majority of the album if filled with the aggressive, in-your-face playing that makes this disc so exciting to listen to. In addition to the three complete works played in their typical arrangement, Kelemen also includes an intriguing "appendix" that contains alternate versions of three different movements that Bartók had written. Hungaroton's SACD sound is delightfully clear and focused.

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