Péter Eötvös, Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester Béla Bartók: Miraculous mandarin, Concerto

BMCCD058 2001

I often conduct Bartók pieces, and though years have passed since these recordings were made, I still feel that these concert performances were exceptionally powerful and authentic, and that their verve, character and dynamism can be felt on the recordings as well.

Péter Eötvös


The Miraculous Mandarin:
Junge Deutsche Philharmonie

Concerto for Orchestra:

Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester

Conducted by Péter Eötvös

About the album

The Miraculous Mandarin was recorded by the Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln, 1994
Recording producer: Christoph Held
Sound master of the recording: Andreas Beutner
Sound engineer: Bardo Kox

Concerto for Orchestra was recorded live in Teatro Donizetti, Bergamo, May 1992
℗ 1996 MUSICOM s.r.l., Milan Italy
Recording producer: Alessandro Orizio
Executive producer: Luisa Cassetti
Recording editor: Carlo Assalini
Production coordinator: Stelio Vinanti

Cover photo: Zoltán Gaál
Inside cover photo: Lenke Szilágyi
Booklet photo: Andrea Felvégi
Design: Meral Yasar

Produced by László Gőz

The recording was sponsored by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and the National Cultural Fund of Hungary


Rob Cowan - Gramophone (en)

Victor Carr Jr. - ClassicsToday.com 7/8 (en)

Grant Chu Covell - La Folia (en)

Christopher Breunig - Hi-Fi News (en)

Paul Griffiths - Hungarianquarterly.com (en)

Markus Rubow - Klassik.com (de)

Jean-Charles Hoffelé - Artamag - Le disque du jour (fr)

Justino Losada Gómez - Filomusica.com (es)

Ritmo (es)

Maarten Brandt - Deventer Ztg (nl)

Coda Korea (ko)

Retkes Attila - Gramofon ***** (hu)

Csengery Kristóf - Magyar Narancs (hu)

Szitha Tünde - Muzsika (hu)

3500 HUF 11 EUR

Béla Bartók:

01 The Miraculous Mandarin op.19 (Sz 73/BB 82 32:26

Béla Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra (Sz 116/BB 123)

02 I. Introduzione (Andante non troppo - Allegro vivace) 9:58
03 II. Giuoco delle coppie (Allegretto scherzando) 6:08
04 III. Elegia (Andante non troppo) 7:26
05 IV. Intermezzo interrotto (Allegretto) 4:18
06 V. Finale (Presto) 9:22
Total time 69:38

The album is available in digital form at our retail partners

Working with youth orchestras in the 90s

Towards the beginning of the nineties I became increasingly concerned with the future of orchestras and with the education of the younger generation. At that time I founded an international institute for young conductors and composers, and conducted two tours with the two most important youth orchestras of Europe, the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester and the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie. I found the structure of youth orchestras ideal as the excellent administration and continuous organisation made the realization of more adventurous, unconventional projects possible. These orchestras were formed from the pick of skilled young musicians with perfect technique, and I was pleasantly surprised by the ease with which these quick-minded, receptive young people could be directed, their unbroken concentration while working.
I am delighted that these high quality recordings, originally made for documentary purposes only during concert tours, have by a stroke of luck survived.

I often conduct Bartók pieces, and though years have has passed since these recordings were made, I still feel that these concert performances were exceptionally powerful and authentic, and that their verve, character and dynamism can be felt on the recordings as well.

Péter Eötvös (2001)

Inspiring the Hope

It is one of the peculiarities of Bartók's oeuvre that he composed relatively few pieces for the most representative ensemble of the concert podium of his era, the symphony orchestra. Naturally, there were practical reasons for this: at the beginning of his career, there was no symphony orchestra in Budapest of a quality that would have satisfied him, (and of all the objectives set by UMZE, the New Hungarian Music Society, it was precisely the founding of a new full orchestra, one of their most important goals, that failed) but reasons rooted in the internal logic of the oeuvre and the psyche of the composer were even stronger. Though Bartók did compose for large orchestra during every period of his activity, these pieces are in part concertos (written on commission, or to satisfy his own concert needs), in part pieces for the stage or (a circumstance pointing beyond his temperament and typical of the music of the 20th century) written for orchestras of a special composition (3 Village Scenes, Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta). It is also typical that the orchestration of certain Bartók pieces was completed a good many years after their composition (Four Pieces for Orchestra, The Miraculous Mandarin): the process of creation was sometimes protracted by the search for a particular formal solution or by some conceptual uncertainty, sometimes by variations of form (Two Portraits, Second Suite). And in some cases one can cautiously admit that one or another of the orchestral compositions is not the most typical, the most significant piece of the given stylistic period (as in the case of the orchestrated cycles composed of piano pieces, and always on request; and perhaps most painfully in that of the somewhat lightweight Dance Suite, which nevertheless occupies an important place in the rhythm of the development of the composer's career). Bartók himself felt the need for a representative orchestral composition - as shown by his attempts to ensure a place for his two theatrical pieces (The Wooden Prince, The Miraculous Mandarin) on the concert podium, irrespective of their stage realisation. To achieve this end, he abbreviated and re-arranged the musical material to arrive at several suite-variants - but it is no accident that these suite-variants proved a fiasco one after the other (and generally remained unpublished), primarily because they broke up the particular formal structure, an essential and most notable feature of his works, namely the musical dramaturgy (which may account for why these pieces are seldom played; nowadays even at concerts it is customary to perform the full musical material of the two ballets.) The only piece composed by Bartók for large orchestra in his maturity, Concerto, was written on commission - it is impossible not to notice the relationship between the commission, the apparatus and the manner of realisation: this work could hardly have been written elsewhere than in the United States, the birthplace of up-to-date, 20th century full-orchestral culture, and at a time when every leading figure of traditional European orchestral culture had moved to America, giving new impetus to its development and marking its new course.

No matter how often certain of Bartók's pieces are played in concert-halls all over the world (the two pieces on this disc perhaps most frequently of all), as there is a relatively small repertory of pieces for full orchestra, knowledge of his style is still scanty and natural, self-evident realization of his musical idiom seldom successful. For tradition does not only involve the perfect technical solution of one or two pieces, or the keeping alive of certain customary modes of performance, but also a familiarity with the whole oeuvre as well as a continuous experience of performing pieces from various stylistic periods. Unfortunately in contemporary concert life it is rather rare for a great master's oeuvre to be continually tended with such meticulous care. The most that can be expected of an otherwise excellent orchestra is that one or two pieces of a certain composer should form part of its repertory for some length of time. In addition, there exists the belief that there is a standard and manner of playing Bartók which, through mild abbreviation and the stripping it of its special flavour, homogenizes his music to blend in with the rest of the repertory, and results in a stylised kind of performance - for some reason in opposition to tradition accessible through the few recordings that remain of Bartók playing his own works. It is true that to preserve tradition in this way would necessitate a great deal of philological knowledge, practice and empathy and, above all so much time that even to attempt it may seem futile, given the limited rehearsal time at the disposal of full orchestras. Thus the possibilities of playing Bartók in accordance with accessible tradition are rapidly decreasing - the ideal fields for the realization of this aim are instrumental solo pieces or chamber music. And in the case of larger ensembles, the best we can expect is to have special orchestral formations take up these outstanding masterpieces outside everyday concert routine: orchestras assembled to perform a given production on occasion, youth orchestras of high professional standard, or private initiatives of musicians who, having finished school, can still allow themselves the luxury of intensive preoccupation with music, in lieu of filling places in orchestras which offer greater existential security.

Conditions must, of course, be given: a truly outstanding ensemble must be assembled for the high technical requirements of the pieces to be realized to perfection, the members must at the same time be prepared to surmount the incredible professional and technical difficulties of becoming an ensemble; they must be given enough time to prepare and, last but not least, a musical director must be found, who possesses all the necessary pedagogical qualifications needed to build an ensemble through these works, who naturally has the knowledge and experience to solve their musical and technical difficulties.

Obviously, all of these conditions will seldom be met in a single production - this is why truly perfected and inspired performances are so rare. The two recordings on this disc fall into this rare category. Péter Eötvös' Bartók performances are in many respects exemplary. To him, the folk musical and specifically Hungarian roots of Bartók's music are evident; he has studied and given careful consideration to questions concerning the performance of Bartók's music (not only orchestral pieces) and the various editions of these pieces, as lecturer at the Szombathely Bartók Seminary for conductors (owing to the particular aims and lucky constellation of participants), he has learned a great deal about those basic aspects of the philology of Bartók's music that significantly affect performance. To all this is added that quality of pedagogical determination and aptitude - in the full sense of the word - by virtue of which Eötvös moulds the musicians working under him into a true ensemble - setting up and at the same time proving the contention that this is the aim which a conductor must strive for and achieve with every performance, more precisely during the rehearsal period preceding the performance with every orchestra. These Bartók performances are exemplary, among the best recordings ever made of these often recorded pieces. They are documents of an era when this intellectual level can only be aimed at and realised from outside the confines of "official" musical life, and perhaps inspire the hope that recommencements of this kind may be possible even in the hardest times.

András Wilheim

Péter Eötvös is one of the best known interpreters of 20th century music, composer, conductor and professor.
He was born in Transylvania and received diplomas from the Budapest Academy of Music (composition) and the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne (conducting). Between 1968 and 1976 he played regularly with the Stockhausen Ensemble.
From 1971 to 1979 he collaborated with the electronic music studio of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk in Cologne.
In 1978, at the invitation of Pierre Boulez, he conducted the inaugural concert of IRCAM in Paris, and was subsequently named music director of the Ensemble InterContemporain, a post he held until 1991.
From 1985 to 1988 he was Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He was appointed First Guest Conductor at the Budapest Festival Orchestra in 1992-1995, First Guest Conductor at the National Philharmony Orchestra Budapest from 1998, and Chief Conductor of the Radio Chamber Orchestra of Hilversum from 1994.

He was awarded the “Officier de l'Ordre des l’Arts et des Lettres” in Paris (1988), the Bartók Prize in Budapest (1997) and the Christoph und Stephan Kaske Prize in Munich (2000). He is a member of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, the Széchenyi Academy of Art in Budapest and the Sächsische Akademie der Künste in Dresden.
His compositions are regularly performed throughout the world, and have been recorded by Grammophon AB BIS, BMC, DGG, ECM, Erato, Kairos, and his music is published by Editio Musica (Budapest), Ricordi (Munich), Salabert (Paris) and Schott Music (Mainz).

Junge Deutsche Philharmonie

The Junge Deutsche Philharmonie (JDPh) was founded in 1974 and is based in Frankfurt. It is made up of the most talented students of all the German music colleges. The members meet three times annually for intensive rehearsal phases. Self-determination, alternating conductors, the free choice of soloists and their own decisions for programmes determine the concept of the democratically organised federal student orchestra.

The Junge Deutsche Philharmonie is regularly a guest at the Berlin Festival, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, the Philharmonic Hall in Cologne and the Music Hall in Hamburg. Amongst the highlights of recent years was the performance of the complete works of Anton Webern under the baton of Gary Bertini (1983), their work with Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez (1990), tours to Scandinavia and the U.S.A. with Michael Gielen (1988 and 1991), the performance of Heiner Goebbels’ Surrogate Cities at the Festival d’Automne in 1994 in Paris, the debut at the London BBC Prom Concerts and concert tours to Finland, Russia, Italy and Spain.
Since May 1995, Lothar Zagrosek is the principal guest conductor and artistic advisor of the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie.

Amongst the conductors and soloists who have already worked together with the orchestra are Eliahu Inbal, Lorin Maazel, Witold Lutosławski, Heinz Holliger, Mauricio Kagel, David Shallon, Seiji Ozawa, Gidon Kremer, Daniel Barenboim, Tabea Zimmermann, Christian Tetzlaff and Sabine Meyer.
The ensemble has been distinguished several times with, amongst other prizes, the 1st Prize at the Herbert von Karajan Competition, the German Record Prize “Artist of the Year”, the German Critics’ Prize, the Grand Prix Année Européenne de la Musique and the Ernst von Siemens Foundation Bursay.

The Junge Deutsche Philharmonie is supported by the City of Frankfurt and project-wise promoted by the Deutsche Ensemble Academy, the GVL (Society for the Exploitation of Performance Protection Rights), the Hochschule der Künste Berlin (College of Fine Arts in Berlin), the Oscar and Vera Ritter Foundation, by the Mobil Pegasus programme, Commerzbank AG, the Siemens Cultural Programme, the German Music Council, the German Foreign Office and the Association of the Friends of the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie.


Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester

The Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester (GMJO) was founded in Vienna in 1986, on the initiative of its present musical director, Claudio Abbado. Today it is regarded as the world’s leading youth orchestra.

As well as the encouragement of the next musical generation and working with young musicians, it was of particular importance to him to enable young Austrian musicians to play with their colleagues from the then socialist republics of Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Thus, the GMJO became the first international youth orchestra to hold open auditions in the countries of the former Eastern bloc. In 1992, the GMJO opened up to musicians aged up to 26 from all over Europe. As the youth orchestra for the whole of Europe, it is under the patronage of the European Council.

A jury authorized by Claudio Abbado makes its selection from the many candidates at auditions held in more than twenty-five European cities each year. The members of the jury are prominent orchestral players who continue to assist the orchestra with its musical program during the rehearsal period.
The GMJO tour repertoire ranges from classical to contemporary music with the emphasis on the great symphonic works of the romantic and late romantic periods. Its high artistic level and international success have prompted many leading conductors and soloists to perform with the GMJO. The GMJO has been a regular guest at well-known concert events and festivals for several years. Many former members of the GMJO are now members of the leading European orchestras, some of them in leading positions.


Related albums