Thursday, November 15, 2012

Béla Bartók

Béla Bartók
12" x 12"
oil on masonite, 2012
Classical music has been a bit underrepresented in the Top 100 considering the vast amount of such records in my collection and the availability of cheap items. There are several genres, or topics that I collect within the broad field that is classical music. One of the topics that I always grab whenever I see one is that of the composer playing his (her's is a bit rare outside of contemporary classical music) own music. Recently I was delighted to find not one, but two records with the music of one of my all time favorite composers, Béla Bartók (1881-1945) at a local 2nd hand store. Bartók plays his own piano music on these. The two Bartók records, together with a third one, were neatly bound into an album by the previous owner. I love those personal touches added by music enthusiasts of yore. Bartók Plays Bartók is an album of short solo piano pieces, one is a piano adaption of a work written for strings, another is a piece for two pianos. The second piano is played by his wife Ditta Pasztóry Bartók. Ditta Bartók has even a more prominent presence on the second album, which is a performance of the piece Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion. Béla Bartók is heard on piano, Ditta plays the second piano while Harry Baker and Edward Rubzan are the percussionists. The album is then completed with  some short piano solos performed by Béla Bartók. The past several Top 100 years have included many recordings made by Bartók in his occupation as ethnomusicologist, these were field recordings of traditional music made in Romania and Hungary in the 1930s and before. It has been more than 20 years since I've welcomed a Bartók as composer in the Top 100, from before the time I painted all the musicians. Here then is the first time I painted a portrait of Béla Bartók.

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