(Sixth Season, 1931-32)
THE B.B.C. ORCHESTRA
(Leader, ARTHUR CATTERALL )
Conducted by SIR HENRY WOOD
(Bela Bartok , bom March 25, 1881)
First Suite for Orchestra (Op. 3)
Allegro vivace; Poco adagio; Prosto; Moderato; Molto vivaco
BELA BARTOK and Orchestra
Rhapsody for Pianoforte and Orchestra (Op. ])
The amazing Mandarin-Music from the Mimodrama (Op. 19)
Introduction (Street Sounds)-The .Girl and the three Tramps; The Girl's first Victim, the shabby Gallant ; Hor second, tho shy Youth ; Her third, the Mandarin ; She dances for the Mandarin; The Mandarin and tho Girl—Conclusion
0 other country in the world has a national music like Hungary's, music which says so much in so vivid a way, of tho land itself and of what it means to its people. Not only its folk-songs and dances, but much of the concert music which Hungarian composers have given us, are instinct with the spirit of the country and its people.
Bartok began his! musical career as an ardent enthusiast for the native art, and his first pieces are Hungarian above everything else. He devoted his energies for some years to actual folk-song, and did splendid work, along with his fellow. countryman Kodaly, in disentangling the true Magyar folk music from the tunos of Roumanian and other origin with which it had grown iu the course of time to blend itself.
Now, of course, with his immensely wider interests and outlook, he is acclaimed not merely as a Hungarian composer, but as one of the leaders in [the music of our times, one who goes his own way regardless of old-established rules and conventions. But in these two early works, the [Suite for Orchestra and the Rhapsody, in which he is to play the solo part himself, the real Hungarian spirit prevails throughout, and its themes are easily recognized as closely akin to those which Liszti and Brahms were among the first to make familiar to us. Both appeared in 1904, when Bartok was only twenty-three.
THE pantomime (in its true sense, drama without sung or spoken word) from which the music of ' The amazing Mandarin ' suite is taken, has been given on more than one Continental stage, though not in Britain. We could hardly be trusted to discern beneath its sordid grimness 'the bizarre fantasy which Bartok's music colours ;iwith so vivid an illumination of its grotesque unreality.
In a wretched room of the suburbs three tramps (gangsters, in modern slang) coerce a girl to act as decoy. A shabby gallant and a shy youth are enticed one after the other to come in. only to be robbed of all they have and thrust out again, penniless. The third victim is the sinister Mandarin, terrifying in the impassive coldness of his staring eyes. The girl tries, by dancing, to rouse him from his trance-like numbness, but, when he -moves towards her, shrinks away in horror. When, at lost, she enn no longer eludo his frantic pursuit, the men rush from hiding, rob him of all ho carries and kill him. Grim as it must sound in so bare a summary, the story has no more of horror than when Jack of the Beanstalk or Hop o' my Thumb destroy their fabled ogres. Fantastic and unreal as any legend of old, the little drama is wedded to music which has, for tho discerning, something both of humour and of tenderness, more than outweighing its seemingly stark violence.