LABELS: Digital Classics
ALBUM TITLE: After the Storm: The American Exile of Béla Bartók
PERFORMER: Georg Solti, Yehudi Menuhin, Peter Bartók, Béla Bartók, György Sándor, Laszló Barsony; Budapest SO/
Ervin Lukacs
After the Storm starts with the removal of Bartók’s remains from New York to Budapest in 1988, and this journey is intercut with reminiscences from musicians and friends – and his son Peter in particular. Solti turns up again, confirming that Bartók was a man who spoke very little, or, as Menuhin puts it, had an intensity that was always under control. What is most shocking now, when Bartók is established in the pantheon of the greats, is the way that he was almost completely ignored in America. For two years he composed nothing at all and it was only the commission for the Concerto for Orchestra from Koussevitzky that opened the doors for his last works – we see excerpts from them shot in Budapest. Most moving is Peter Bartók talking about Bartók’s last days, when leukaemia had taken its final grip, and the family were evicted from their two-room apartment in New York. He had moved in to help his dying father, and the lease specified just two residents. Only Bartók’s death in hospital allowed him and his mother to move back in. And only a handful of people attended his funeral in New York. It’s certainly an over-diffuse film at 75 minutes, but it does contain some real nuggets of information. Martin Cotton