ALBUM TITLE: Bartók • Doráti• Seiber
WORKS: Doráti: Cello Concerto; Bartók: Viola Concerto (arr. Serly); Seiber: Tre pezzi
PERFORMER: Raphael Wallfisch (cello); BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Gábor Takács-Nagy
CATALOGUE NO: NI 5919
The Hungarian concertos featured on this beautifully recorded release were all written a considerable time after their respective composers had left their native country. It’s perhaps not surprising, then, that a feeling of displacement hovers over each work, though this is manifested in rather different ways. Loneliness and despair seem to be the overriding emotions in much of the Seiber and Bartók, whereas nostalgia and romantic warmth are the main components of Doráti’s Concerto.
The most musically rewarding of these in my opinion is Mátyas Seiber’s Tre Pezzi composed in 1956. It opens with a brooding and ingeniously scored Adagio that is punctuated from time to time by menacing dissonances in the brass. In contrast, the central ‘Capriccio’ is more fragmentary, juxtaposing both playful and grotesque material which in many ways seems to point forward to Ligeti. After this, Seiber returns to the elegiac mood of the opening with a beautifully serene and rather moving ‘Epilogue’.
Raphael Wallfisch delivers a very engaging performance of this work, ably supported by Gábor Takács-Nagy and an alert BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Similar qualities abound in their committed playing of the Doráti Concerto, though here I am less persuaded by the composer’s rhapsodic and somewhat discursive musical material which invokes a variety of musical influences from Kodály and Bloch to a strong whiff of Hollywood film score in the Finale.
Transcribing Bartók’s Viola Concerto for cello, a strategy first adopted by János Starker, seems perfectly viable. Wallfisch plays eloquently here, though I wonder whether there could have been a bit more momentum and energy in the Finale. Erik Levi