Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Béla Bartók: Rhapsody No.1 (1928). "Lassu" and "Friss"

Today, on 25 March 2015, is Bela Bartok's 134th birthday. Not a "round" number, but still reason to celebrate him with his music.

I have completed now the recording of Bartok's "Rhapsody No.1", with both movements "Lassu" and "Friss". This is the version for violin and orchestra. Originally this composition was written by Bartok for piano and violin, but he transcribed it for orchestra and violin in 1929.

Already in 2001 I had created a rendition of "Lassu", at that time with my Yamaha MU-80 synthesizer and a viola soundfont. In 2014 I did revise this recording of "Lassu", using the Garritan Personal Orchestra 4 (GPO4) sample library for a more realistically sounding rendition. And now, in March 2015 I have tackled the 2nd movement, "Friss".

Both movements rely heavily on solo violin, which is a bit problematic to "play" on a regular piano keyboard. For this recording I have played this solo violin voice in live play, so that I could convey the varying tempi and attacks. I did use the "solo violin 1" (Stradivari) sample for this voice. In "Friss" there are also parts where the string sections are to be played by a few solo instruments, so I did use all of the other solo instruments from the GPO4 library.

The cimbalom used here is a standard Cakewalk TTS softsynth from Sonar.

Here is now the completed recording of Rhapsody No.1. After the first movement, the 2nd one will play automatically.

The recording was created in Sonar Producer X1. It uses 3 instances of the ARIA player, with a total of 32 individual MIDI tracks and instruments.

There are two different possible endings in "Friss". I chose the one which is supposed to be used when both movements are played. Since "Friss" can also be played as a stand-alone movement without "Lassu", there is a different ending of "Friss" which does not refer in the end back to "Lassu".

Here is an encore: Béla Bartók on the piano, and violinist Josef Szigeti, for whom this composition was written, in a historic recording from 13 April 1940:

In this recording, apparently the second version of the "Friss" ending was used, even though both movements are played in sequence together.

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