8 Hungarian Folk Songs (1907-1917) - Béla Bartók
(Sz. 64, BB 47) 

Fekete fod, feher az en zsebkendom (Black Earth)

Istenem, istenm, araszd meg a vizet (My God, My God, Make the River Swell)

Asszonyok, asszonyok (Wives, Let Me Be One of Your Company)

Annyi banat az szivemen (So Much Sorrow Lies in My Heart)

Ha kimegyek arr' a magos tetöre (If I Climb Yonder Hill)

Töltik a nagyerdö utjat (They Are Mending the Great Forest Highway)

Eddig valo dolgom a tavaszi szantas (Up to Now My Work Was Plowing in the Springtime)

Olvad a hó, csardas kis angyalom (The Snow is Melting)


Sonata No.1 for Violin and Piano(1921) - Béla Bartók 
(Sz.75, BB 84, Op.21)

Allegro appassionato




Program Notes

It is impossible to discuss or play Bartok’s music without mention of his homeland. A famously Hungarian composer, Béla Bartók (1881-1945) passionately collected his own country’s folk music, this providing him with musical inspiration and means to innovate. Bartók was also known to transcend artistic and political boundaries, and for his truly encyclopedic knowledge of the field of folk music. For example, his interests are known to also include the folk music of the Romanian and Slovak communities of Old Hungary, as well as that of North Africa and Anatolia. However, his Hungarian-ness inevitably prevails and remains at the heart of his compositional style. As examples are the eight songs on this programme. The first song names this programme, ‘Black Earth’, and according to Robert Cummings it is about “the agonies of a young woman whose lover has abandoned her.” All eight songs are arrangements of Hungarian folk songs, and their sources can be traced to the composer's collection of folk tunes from the Transylvanian Csik district and Hungarian soldiers.

The sonata programmed to follow these songs is one of two that was composed for the Hungarian violinist Jelly d’Arányi, Joachim’s great-niece. In Malcolm Gillies’ words, it depicts Bartók’s “most extreme style.” Even though an earlier violin and piano sonata exists, this is Bartók’s first ‘official’ violin and piano sonata, and it was composed in 1921. With the composer at the piano, d’Arányi gave its first performance in London in the following year. The music demonstrates an equal pairing of violin and piano, but it is striking that the parts, whilst together, often seem unconnected - they seem to remain untethered somehow. The virtuosity required of this music is undeniable, and the percussive and intensely passionate nature on display is typical of Bartók’s music. Here too, folk music influence is strong. It can perhaps be felt most noticeably in the rhythmic intricacies, modal inflections, and in the often improvisatory gestures.

About the performers

Judit Molnar (soprano) was born in Miskolc, Hungary, and graduated from the Liszt Academy of Music. She performs at solo and chamber concerts, festivals, oratorios and operas in Hungary and across Europe, as well as in her adopted country Australia. Based in Brisbane since 2012, Judit was granted the Distinguished Talent Visa by the Australian Government as an internationally recognised artist with exceptional and outstanding contributions to the arts.

Kristian Winther (violinist) has appeared as a soloist with orchestras including the Queensland, Melbourne, Sydney, and Christchurch Symphony Orchestras. For 2007-08 Kristian was violinist with the TinAlley String Quartet, winning the 2007 Banff International String Quartet Competition. Kristian has performed numerous Australian premieres of works by composers such as Brett Dean, John Adams, Louis Andriessen, Gyorgy Kurtag, and Esa-Pekka Salonen. He has also performed world premieres, such as Olli Mustonen’s Sonata for Violin and Orchestra.

Brieley Cutting (pianist) has recently been awarded the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts from Griffith University and is a Churchill Fellow. She has performed as a concerto soloist with orchestras such as the Melbourne, Adelaide and Queensland Symphony Orchestras and was the founder and artistic director of the acclaimed music series DeClassified Music.