WORKS: Dance Suite; Rhapsody, Op. 1 (two versions); Four Piano Pieces
PERFORMER: Zoltán Kocsis (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 464 639-2
This disc completes Zoltán Kocsis’s fine survey of Bartók’s piano music for Philips. Most of the music recorded here comes from the composer’s early years, when he was still under the spell of Liszt and Strauss, though there is also his meticulous transcription of the orchestral Dance Suite of 1923. Bartók himself never performed the Dance Suite, but he did play his effusive Rhapsody, Op. 1, on many occasions, making several versions of the piece – one of them for piano and orchestra. To satisfy his publisher, Bartók later prepared an abridged form of the Rhapsody, rounding off its slow opening section with a half-dozen new bars, and omitting the fast second section altogether. Kocsis includes both the longer and shorter versions – surely too much of a not terribly good thing, especially since the bulk of the two performances seems to be identical. Also included are the Four Pieces of 1903, and Bartók’s transcription of the closing pages of his symphonic poem Kossuth. All these pieces are impeccably played by Kocsis, and followers of his series will want to acquire this final instalment. It needs to be said, however, that in most of this repertoire Bartók’s own distinctive voice is barely recognisable.