The first round of the Bartók World Competition and Festival took place in four sessions on 10 and 11 September 2017. Three Japanese violinists, two Hungarians, a French/Dutch, an American, a Greek, a Croatian, a Korean, an Italian and a contestant from New Zealand were all shortlisted to perform at the semi-finals.
Forty-four competitors from sixteen countries on four continents have come to Budapest to testify to their talent and hard work before the globally acclaimed jury members and the audience. Following the two-day preliminary round, the jury agreed on the list of the semi-finalists, who will have the opportunity to prove themselves in the next round.
As an introduction to the preliminary round, musicologist László Stachó gave a highly fascinating account of the round's two compulsory works, Rhapsodies No 1 and 2. The audience could listen to the original recordings of the folk melodies serving as sources for the Rhapsodies, and Stachó spoke about their rhythmical and intonational richness, contrasting these to the re-arrangements and the interpretations of classical violinists. He added: 'Bartók intended to bring the folk music background to the surface even in a classical arrangement. For example, he made József Szigeti listen to the original recordings before the two of them made their own recording of the Rhapsodies in Washington, in order that Szigeti could understand the folk music background of the pieces.' Stachó also presented the audience with a very rare performance, which was aired by Hungarian Radio a year before Szigeti's recording. On that occasion, Bartók's chamber music partner had been Ede Zathureczky, who later become the Director of the Liszt Academy.
In the Preliminary Round, all candidates were to play at least one movement of Bach's Sonatas or Partitas for Solo Violin and choose one of Bartók's Rhapsodies. While the contestants' selection of Bach's compositions was quite varied, the majority picked the more popular Rhapsody No 1 rather than No 2.
In the semi-final round, the competitors will have to make a choice between two pieces: either Bartók's Sonata for Solo Violin or his Sonata for Violin and Piano No 1, and play either of them in their entirety. Should any of the contestants, however, not pick an entire sonata, then his/her repertoire has to consist of a movement of a Bartók Sonata for Solo Violin or any of the Sonatas for Violin and Piano, or a virtuoso piece and one movement of a Sonata for Violin and Piano from the eighteenth, nineteenth or 20th centuries.
The competition continues until Saturday 16 September (Grand Final), with the Award Ceremony and Gala Concert at 7.30pm on Sunday 17 September 2017. Full details via the link below.
Posted: 14 September 2017
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