Musical Poet’s Society

Liszt Ferenc: Two episodes from Lenau's ‘Faust’: ‘The procession by night’ and ‘Mephisto Waltz’
Kodály Zoltán: Summer Evening
Béla Bartók: Brácsaverseny (A Fibonacci-számsor alapján rekonstruált verzió)
Liszt Ferenc: Symphonic Poem ‘Tasso’

Máté Szűcs – viola
Attila Epres – poem
Rebeka László – poem

Conducted by: Máté Hámori

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Hungarian composers across the board yet the result still sounds international. It’s truly rare to hear the first Liszt piece in its entirety, though by evoking the figures of Faust and Mephisto, Liszt was referencing his own controversial personality. Faust interested him throughout most of his life but it was Lenau’s, rather than Goethe’s, that he studied. Kodály’s Summer Evening was the composer's diploma work at the Academy of Music, which he later heavily reworked applying Toscanini’s suggestions. Aside from the many impressionist effects, Kodály’s own voice is very strong in this work. Bartók’s Viola Concerto is one of his last unfinished works composed in the US, and at the same time is one of the most important works for the solo viola. “Tasso” evokes the Italian poet’s complaints and victories in two images. Similar to the Two Episodes, we are reprised of two of human fate’s most opposing traits, all in Liszt’s picturesque and grandiose style. We also hear life’s two foundational truisms: the sound of failure and defeat, as well as that of hope, a hope that however slowly it does so, in the end life will judge fairly.

In the words of conductor Máté Hámori: “One is hopelessly filled with pride looking at this all-Hungarian program. It’s almost unbelievable that such a fragile, tiny country could play such a defining role in critical moments of music history. We can’t imagine the 20th century’s second half without Bartók, and without Liszt, Wagner, Debussy and Sibelius would sound completely different. The selection is bound together by poetry, and in Hungary, that art’s celebration - and the concert itself - falls on Attila József’s birthday. Poetry is a constant inner ‘daimon’ in music’s spirit, and in these pieces specifically, its influence isn’t hidden, it presents itself very explicitly. What all of these pieces have in common is that they are not their composers most cliché works, this is especially true of the Liszt: the Lenau scenes provide an elegant denial of that oft-touted, ignorant rumour that Liszt was not an orchestral composer. I think the exact opposite is true: as he experimented with transplanting the rich sounds of his piano on to the orchestra, he extracted completely new colours and effects which found their listeners, often many decades later, in the 20th century’s composers.

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