Bartók’s less hair-raising, but longer, companion to the 1926 concerto. He said he wanted a work “less bristling with difficulties for the orchestra and whose thematic material would be more pleasing”. He characterized this concerto’s themes as ‘“light and popular”, which, given Bartók’s recent history, they are – comparatively. This concerto is quite often paired now with a Prokofieff or Shostakovich symphony after the interval. At its earliest London performance it shared the all-Bartók program with Cantata profana and Two Portraits, producing a very satisfying (if lavish) evening of instrumental and vocal soloists, along with chorus and large orchestra.
Note by Malcolm Gillies