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      Béla Bartók and Johannes Brahms

      Brahms in 1853

      Brahms in 1853

      Béla Bartók (1881-1945)

      Contrasts, Sz. 111

      Ida Kavafian, violin; Chen Halevi, clarinet; Kirill Gerstein, piano

      Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival artistic director Marc Neikrug and program host Kerry Frumkin discuss Béla Bartok’s Contrasts.

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      Violinist Ida Kavafian loves this piece, and says she gained some important insight into how to play it when she had the opportunity to collaborate with a remarkable performer, and one who was pretty close to Bartók … the late cellist, Janos Starker.

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      When, in the summer of 1938, the great Hungarian violinist Josef Szigeti got together with the "King of Swing," clarinetist Benny Goodman, to ask Béla Bartók for a commission, they were very specific in terms of what they wanted. The work should be a two-part rhapsody, and it should fit within the time constraints available by the popular recording technology of the day: two sides of a 78rpm record!  What they received was “a kind of deliciously filtered Hungarian jazz” Bartók called Contrasts.

      When, in the summer of 1938, the great Hungarian violinist Josef Szigeti got together with the “King of Swing,” clarinetist Benny Goodman, to ask Béla Bartók for a commission, they were very specific in terms of what they wanted. The work should be a two-part rhapsody, and it should fit within the time constraints available by the popular recording technology of the day: two sides of a 78rpm record! What they received was “a kind of deliciously filtered Hungarian jazz” Bartók called Contrasts.

      On May 13, 1940, Goodman and Szigeti met in New York to record Contrasts with the composer at the piano.

      Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

      Piano Trio No. 2 in C Major, Op. 87 (1880-82)

      William Preucil, violin; Gary Hoffman, cello; Haochen Zhang, piano

      You have not yet had such a beautiful trio from me and very likely have not published its equal in the last ten years!
      - Johannes Brahms to his publisher

      VThere is a lush sense of grandeur in the Piano Trio No. 2 in C Major, Op. 87 that makes it Marc Neikrug’s favorite Brahms trio. He’s particularly fond of the slow movement.

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