Merritts Hill Music

Merritts Hill Music

Dance Suite

B. Bartók

Category: 10-piece Brass

Duration: 15' 00"

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Price: £35.00

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The Dance Suite was composed for a grand concert on 19th November 1923 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the amalgamation of Buda & Pest. Also commissioned were Ernö Dohnányi's Festival Overture and Zoltán Kodály's Psalmus Hungaricus.

This first performance - under Dohnányi's baton - was scrappy and not very well received. Bartók regarded his work as simple with maybe a few tricky bits, and blamed the lack of rehearsal time. (When you rehearse this piece you will discover what "simple" meant to Bartók!) Two years later though it was played in Prague under Václav Talich and launched Bartók's career beyond anything he'd written so far.

There are five dances in various national styles - although he liked to collect real folk tunes he fashioned his own here - and a Finale. There were some Slovak-style ones which he didn't include, but a fragment of one of them lives on as the Ritornello which links the movements.

It was the second movement with the rude trombones that pointed towards a possible brass arrangement - it's remarkable how well the rest of it fitted into place. As the work is an exercise in rhythm, it's as well to aim for precision of attack and avoid the temptation to play too loud. Bartók's tempo indications are extraordinarily detailed, but his metronome markings are not always realistic. The audio track represents typical performance practice.

We have preserved the original bar numbers which restart at the beginning of all movements except the 5th. It would make more sense if the 5th and the Finale were one movement, as they are intended to be played without a break; but that's how it is in both the orchestral and piano versions.

The full orchestral percussion parts are included but are optional. We would suggest that the bass drum and timpani are the first and second priorities.

For copyright reasons this arrangement is not available to customers in the USA or Spain.