Béla Bartók (Hungarian, 1881-1945): Concerto for Orchestra, mvt. 2
The Hungarian composer Béla Bartók composed a set of 44 violin duos based on folk tunes he "discovered" by traveling around to peasant communities in Hungary, Romania, and other countries, and recording the music he heard on one of the first recording devices. (He is considered the first "ethnomusicologist.") Today's selection, though VERY different, also features a series of short duets by Bartok, played by wind instruments and accompanied by the rest of the orchestra. It is called "Presentando le coppie" ("Presentation of the Couples") or "Giuoco delle coppie" ("Game of the couples"). Each "couple" plays a tune at a fixed "interval," or space between the notes, apart. It is a fun, light, movement in one of his last works with an overall whimsical feeling; the sudden dynamic changes and abrupt stops and starts, show his sense of humor. You can also hear some of the folk influence.
For those interested, the movement goes like this:
Bassoons, in 6ths
Oboes, in 3rds
Clarinets, in 7ths
Flutes, in 5ths
Trumpets, in 2nds (or whole steps)
Then the brass instruments play a beautiful chorale, and then the whole series repeats, but this time with more elaboration.
Here is a great performance by the accomplished young musicians of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. They look like they are enjoying themselves--I know I did when I got to play this in youth orchestra!
In May 2017 I challenged my students to practice every day for 30 days in a row. In addition, I asked them to listen to 30 bite-sized musical selections I emailed daily. I collected my picks in this blog for posterity. So these are works I find particularly fun, interesting, or important, including a handful by composers who were born or who died in May. Please enjoy!