COMPOSERS: Kodály LABELS: Naxos ALBUM TITLE: Kodály WORKS: Concerto for Orchestra; Dances of Galánta; Dances of Marosszék; The Peacock Variations PERFORMER: Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra/ JoAnn Falletta CATALOGUE NO: 8.573838
Kodály’s orchestral music may not be extensive, but it has a warmth and generosity that never fails to captivate. Working with enormous energy to promote education in Hungary, often against an atmosphere of negative political conservatism, his music is predominantly tonal and lyrical. The melody and rhythm of regional Hungarian music, of which he was a seminal collector, are never far away even in a relatively abstract work like the Concerto for Orchestra, in three linked movements. Composed in 1940 three years before his compatriot Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, Kodály’s looks for inspiration toward Bach with powerful motor rhythms and concertante opportunities for various orchestral groupings. The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra makes the most of its solo opportunities and JoAnn Falletta keeps a firm grip on structure and rhythmic propulsion while allowing solo lines in the central slow section to blossom unhindered.
The Dances of Galánta and Marosszék are not so much sets as fantasias in rondo form based on popular and folk melodies. In both, the woodwind playing has an engaging pungency and Falletta never loses sight of the underlying rhythmic bounce. In the weightier Peacock Variations she maintains a strong sense of line and continuity so the whole of this potentially disparate set never fragments.
These performances manage to be both intelligent and infectious. The recorded sound could be more resonant and, unfortunately, the richness of the lower strings is not always matched by a similar sheen and unanimity from the violins, and overall ensemble is not always impeccable.