Béla Bartók’s three piano concertos are incomparable. Even with one another. Hearing these three completely different works on a single concert offers a unique opportunity to discover Bartók’s fascinating sound world – and with the best possible guides, no less. Alongside the Hungarian honorary guest conductor Iván Fischer, three soloists – all compatriots of the composer himself – will be performing and adding just the right local colour.
On first hearing, the first two piano concertos sound ominous and aggressive. But their rough exterior conceals a gentle intensity. Bartók’s strong rhythms and wrenching dissonances were inspired by traditional Balkan music, of which he was a great connoisseur. In their ancient peasant music, he heard what united the Balkan peoples. Brotherhood was his great mission, and it is this which makes his music so poignant and human.
In the surprisingly cheerful Third Piano Concerto, which dates from 1945, Bartók unreservedly reveals his kind and affable nature. In addition to Hungarian-inspired rhythms and melodies, the work is also characterised by a Mozartian playfulness.
Together these concertos give us a complete picture of a composer who only in death would receive the recognition he deserved.