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Bartók: Complete Works for Piano Solo, Vol. 2 – The Romantic Bartók Andreas Bach

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Bartók's early work, interpreted with joy, care and a lot of emotion – this is the second part of a pioneering recording of all his works by Andreas Bach.

It has been 25 years since a pianist took on the totality of Béla Bartók's piano works. In 2015, Andreas Bach decided to fill this void once and for all with a recording of all his works that provide a new reference point – acoustically and in terms of interpretation. The second part of the collection, which is sub-titled "The Romantic Bartók", deals with the early works of his early twenties: The "Four Piano Pieces" (1903), the transcription of the Funeral March from the symphonic play poem "Kossuth" (1903) and the "Rhapsody op. 1" (1904) are among the first ever released works by the Hungarian composer. Also on the album are the "Two Elegies" (1908), according to Bartók himself – although, according to this author, somewhat exaggerated, later compositional "falling back into heady romance". Bartóks first attempts still show a strong German romance influence, but also reveal his efforts to develop his own "Hungarian" sound, which was soon to come. Andreas Bach has adapted his style beautifully to this unusual Bartók: romantic, at times sweet and not lacking in great movements, this is the music of a young impetuous composer in search of himself. While these may not be Bartók's best ever compositions, the joy in making music and the many references to Liszt, Wagner and Beethoven come through in Bach's inspired playing, making for a truly entertaining album. I am already looking forward to the two remaining parts of this wonderful collection.

Salvatore Pichireddu | Jan 25, 2016

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