Hommage à Béla Bartók, op. 132, for mixed chamber choir was commissioned by Hungarian Radio for a gala concert, ‘The World Day on 1 October 1995', expressly in memory of Béla Bartók.
The composer's name was an inspiration and, through the notes B (flat), E and A along with their transpositions, lies at the basis of the work. Besides his name, I have also woven the notes B-A-C-H into the texture. I wanted to emphasize and exploit the many expressive possibilites of the human voice, its colours and nuances, virtuosity, lyricism and dramatic potential.
There is a section where the individual singers are asked to improvise within a given notational framework. At the dynamic climax the conductor is also required to improvise and bring his or her personal temperament to bear on the tempo and accentuation. At times when various aspects of the music take on a strong profile, four soloists (or a solo quartet) from within the choir are brought into relief.
In the opening section an elegiac B flat-A motto from the mezzo-soprano is set against a static B flat-E tritone from the sopranos and altos, bringing this part to the fore. The closing part of the work recalls the the atmosphere of the opening. With its gradually progressive development, violent outbursts, improvisation from the singers and moments of contemplation, it has an ethos which pervades the whole work. Ever-present is the spirit of Bartók himself, a composer who oscillated between the quest for the original wellspring of music on the one hand and sophisticated refinement on the other.
© Erik Bergman, 1996
(Fennica Gehrman) Instrumentation
Vocal and Choral Works Opus no.
Phonetic text on the name Béla Bartók Premiere
Ida Szabó, Tamás Bubnó, Balázs Fellegi, vocal soloists, Tomkins énekegüttes ensemble, cond. János Dobra, Budapest, October 1, 1995 Commisioned by / dedications
Commissioned by the Hungarian Radio
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