Béla Bartók: The Miraculous Mandarin – Suite;
Twenty-Seven Choruses - excerpts;
Seven Choruses with Orchestral Accompaniment;
Concerto for Orchestra
Béla Bartók and the Festival Orchestra go together like needle and thread, man and woman. The concert highlights the diversity of the composer, showing us his different faces, including Bartók, the scandal maker; Bartók, the virtuoso; Bartók, the herald of the Hungarian homeland and folk culture, who also drew inspiration from these.
The Miraculous Mandarin is ballet music, termed by the composer as a one-act pantomime ballet. It deals with the great questions of human existence, the relationship of man and woman, passion, helplessness, pleasure and pain. Its premiere in 1926 in Cologne caused a scandal due to the explicitness of the libretto, the bitterness of the music, and most importantly, the open depiction of orgasm. Though it lay closest to Bartók’s heart and he continuously pressed for it to be put on, even at the expense of his other works, it met with resistance both from the authorities and from audiences all over the world. Later on, Bartók reworked it into an orchestral suite.
Twenty-Seven Choruses, composed for 2 and 3 parts for children’s and female voices, is his best-known choral cycle. It was directly inspired by folk texts, which also provided the inspiration for Seven Choruses With Orchestral Accompaniment composed for female voices.
His Concerto consisting of 5 movements demands a great degree of virtuosity from musicians. His departure for the USA was followed by a hiatus of three years due to severe homesickness. The concerto was the first composition to break the silence. This silence even made him ill and landed him in hospital, which is where he received the commission to compose an orchestral piece. This did not only revive his creativity, but also helped him get well again. The concerto that translates Bartók’s deeply felt homesickness into music premiered in 1944, and was rewritten by him one year later.