Hall: Concert Hall
Subscription: A2 - Symphonic concerts, Z2 - Golden subscription
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While Kodály’s Dances of Galánta explored the highly characteristic Hungarian-Gypsy verbunkos folk style, his Dances of Marosszék (1927, originally for piano and usually performed in that piano version) represent a different face of Hungarian traditional music – here highly stylised, but imitation of the traditional dulcimer sound is clearly audible. Ernő Dohnányi, though only five tears older than the modernist Kodály, wrote in a traditional style drawing on the heritage of neo-Romanticism. His passionate and nostalgic music brings to mind the style of much admired Brahms, whereas the textures of his piano works are rather modelled on Liszt. Thus the two opposed trends of Romanticism meet in the compositions of a Hungarian master whose imagination was shaped by the music of that age. This is perfectly evident in the humorous pastiche Variations on a Nursery Tune (1914), whose monumental, pompous introduction brings in a French tune, the simplest of all, and known to all kids: Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman – arranged in the manner of the 19th century’s most brilliant virtuosi.
After the favourable reception of his Symphony No. 1 (1869), Alexander Borodin began to write another one, which took him many years. He composed it simultaneously with his (equally difficult and frequently interrupted) work on the monumental opera Prince Igor. He constantly revised the score of his symphony, uncertain of its value, until during a stay in Weimar he showed it to Liszt – who was greatly impressed and is said to have admonished the Russian composer: “Sir, do not change a single note!” The Symphony No. 2 was premiered ten years after the First, under the baton of Rimski-Korsakov. Solemn and grandiose (sometimes referred to as “Heroic”), this arch-Russian composition contains distinct echoes of simultaneously created operas: Prince Igor and Mlada.