Boston Symphony Orchestra
NBC Symphony Orchestra
conducted by Guido Cantelli
Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta played by the Boston Symphony Orchestra,
taken from a WGBH-FM Boston broadcast, recorded 27th March, 1954.
Concerto for Orchestra played by the NBC Symphony Orchestra, taken from an
NBC radio broadcast, recorded 29th January 1949.
Pristine Audio XR remastering by Andrew Rose, June-July 2007
Download ID: 322958, 499936
A Pristine Audio XR restoration
Scroll down for PDF covers and cue-sheet download
Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta - Boston Symphony Orchestra, 1954
Concerto for Orchestra - NBC Symphony Orchestra, 1949
This XR-remastered recording is available in mono and Ambient Stereo. For more information on Ambient Stereo click here.
Notes on the restoration: My original source material for these transfers was quarter-inch reel-to-reel tape, onto which transfers of the original recordings had previously been made by persons unknown. The 1954 recording was in generally good condition, though with dreadful tonal balance grossly amplifying the frequencies between about 1.2kHz and 9kHz, peaking at some 15dB above my reference recording at around 4.5kHz. With this corrected, the restoration was straightforward and the results fine, if slightly hissy.
The condition of the earlier recording, the Concerto for Orchestra, was not so good. Its frequency range was far more limited and the discs from which it had been transferred were in places quite badly damaged. I have spent many hours restoring (and in places, virtually rebuilding) the audio on this recording with, I believe, some success. However, there are limits to what is possible, and some mild unevenness in sound quality may be noticed at times.
Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta Sz. 106, BB 114 is one of the best-known compositions by the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók. Commissioned by Paul Sacher to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Basel Chamber Orchestra, the score is dated September 7, 1936. The work was premiered in Basel on January 21, 1937 by the Basel Chamber Orchestra conducted by Sacher, and it was published the same year by Universal Edition.
As its title suggests, the piece is written for string instruments (violins, violas, cellos, double basses and harp), percussion instruments (xylophone, snare drum, cymbals, tam-tam, bass drum, timpani) and celesta. The ensemble also includes a piano, which may be classified as either a percussion or string instrument. Bartók divides the strings into two groups which he directs should be placed antiphonally on opposite sides of the stage, and he makes use of antiphonal effects particularly in the second and fourth movements.The piece is in four movements, the first and third slow, the second and fourth quick:
The first movement is a slow fugue. Its time signature changes constantly, and it is written without key signature. It is based around the note A, on which the movement begins and ends. It begins on muted strings, and as more voices enter the texture thickens and the music becomes louder until the climax, positioned exactly 61% through the movement, thus corresponding to the Golden Ratio. Mutes are then removed, and the music becomes gradually quieter over gentle celesta arpeggios. The movement ends with the fugue subject played softly over its inversion. Material from the first movement can be seen as serving as the basis for the later movements, and the fugue subject recurs in different guises at points throughout the piece.The second movement is quick, with a theme in 2/4 time which is transformed into 3/8 time towards the end. The third movement is slow, an example of what is often called Bartók's "night music", and features timpani glissandi which was an unusual technique at the time of the work's composition, as well as a prominent part for the xylophone. The last movement, which begins with notes on the timpani and strummed pizzicato chords on the strings, has the character of a lively folk dance.
Place in Bartók's oeuvre
Bartók's next piece was the Sonata for two pianos and percussion, another work which gives a prominent role to percussion and keyboard instruments.Another work which Bartók composed for Sacher was his Divertimento of three years later.
The second movement of this work accompanies "Craig's Dance of Despair and Disillusionment" from the film Being John Malkovich. The third movement was also featured in the Stanley Kubrick film The Shining.
Concerto for Orchestra (Sz. 116, BB 127) is a five-movement musical work for orchestra composed by Béla Bartók in 1943. It is one of his best-known, most popular and most accessible works. The piece was written in 1943, the score being inscribed "15 August - 8 October 1943", and it premiered on December 1, 1944 in Boston Symphony Hall by the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Serge Koussevitzky. It was a great success and has been regularly performed since. It is perhaps the best known of a number of pieces to have the apparently contradictory title Concerto for Orchestra. This is in contrast to the conventional concerto form, which features a solo instrument with orchestral accompaniment. Bartók said that he called the piece a concerto rather than a symphony because of the way each section of instruments is treated in a soloistic and virtuosic way.
The work was written in response to a commission from the Koussevitzky Foundation (run by the conductor Serge Koussevitzky) following Bartók's move to the United States from his native Hungary, which he had fled because of World War II. It has been speculated that Bartók's previous work, the String Quartet No. 6 (1939), could well have been his last were it not for this commission, which sparked a small number of other compositions, including his Sonata for Solo Violin and Piano Concerto No. 3. Bartók revised the piece in February 1945, the biggest change coming in the last movement, where he wrote a longer ending. Both versions of the ending were published, and both versions are performed today.
Following in the footsteps of composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Bartók makes extensive use of neoclassical elements in the work; for instance, the first and fifth movements are in sonata-allegro form. The work combines elements of Western art music and eastern European folk music, especially that of Hungary, and it departs from traditional tonality, often using non-traditional modes and artificial scales. Bartók researched folk melodies and uses them throughout the work; for example, the second main theme of the first movement, as played by the oboes, resembles a folk melody, with its narrow range and almost haphazard rhythm. The drone in the horns and strings also indicates folk influence.
The piece is scored for 3 flutes (one doubling piccolo), 3 oboes (one doubling cor anglais), 3 clarinets (one doubling bass clarinet), 3 bassoons (one doubling contrabassoon), 4 horn, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, triangle, side drum, bass drum, cymbals, tam-tam, 2 harps and strings.
The first movement, called Introduzione by Bartók, is a slow introduction that gives way to an allegro with numerous fugato passages. This movement is in sonata allegro form.
The second movement, called Giuoco delle coppie or Game of the pairs by Bartók (but see note below), is in five sections, each thematically distinct from each other, with a different pair of instruments playing together in each section. In each passage a different interval separates the pair—bassoons are a minor sixth apart, oboes are in minor thirds, clarinets in minor sevenths, flutes in fifths and muted trumpets in major seconds. The movement prominently features a side drum which taps out a rhythm at the beginning and end of the movement.
Note that while the printed score has the second movement as Giuoco delle coppie (Game of the pairs), Bartók's manuscript shows it as Presentando le coppie (Presentation of the pairs). The printed score also has an incorrect metronome marking for this movement. This was brought to light by Sir Georg Solti as he was preparing to record the Concerto for Orchestra and the Dance Suite. Solti writes:
When preparing these two works for the recording I was determined that the tempi should be exactly as Bartók wrote and this led me to some extraordinary discoveries, chief of which was in the second movement of the Concerto for Orchestra. The printed score gives crotchet equals 74, which is extremely slow, but I thought that I must follow what it says. When we rehearsed I could see that the musicians didn't like it at all and in the break the side drum player (who starts the movement with a solo) came to me and said "Maestro, my part is marked crotchet equals 94", which I thought must be a mistake, since none of the other parts have a tempo marking. The only way to check was to locate the manuscript and through the courtesy of the Library of Congress in Washington we obtained a copy of the relevant page, which not only clearly showed crotchet equals 94, but a tempo marking of "Allegro scherzando" (the printed score gives "Allegretto scherzando"). Furthermore Bartók headed it "Presentando le coppie", (Presentation of the pairs) not "Giuoco delle coppie", (Game of the pairs). I was most excited by this, because it becomes a quite different piece. The programme of the first performance in Boston clearly has the movement marked "Allegro scherzando" and the keeper of the Bartók archives was able to give us further conclusive evidence that the faster tempo must be correct. I have no doubt that thousands of performances, including my own up to now, have been given at the wrong speed!
—Sir Georg Solti, Liner notes from London LP LDR 71036,
Bartók Concerto for Orchestra and Dance Suite, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, recorded January 1980
The third movement, called Elegia by Bartók, is another slow movement, typical of Bartók's so-called "night music". The movement revolves around three themes which primarily derive from the first movement.
The fourth movement, called Intermezzo interrotto by Bartók, consists of a flowing melody with changing time signatures, interrupted by a banal theme which is a parody of the march from Dmitri Shostakovich's "Leningrad" Symphony (No. 7). The banal theme is itself interrupted by glissandi on the trombones and woodwinds. In this movement, the timpani are featured when the second theme is first introduced, requires 12 different pitches over the course of about a minute. The general structure is "ABA–interruption–BA."
The fifth movement, called Finale by Bartók and marked presto, consists of a whirling perpetuum mobile main theme competing with fugato fireworks and folk melodies. This is also written in sonata allegro form.