Bartók Cycle: orchestre philharmonique de Radio France

Music, Classical and opera
Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
© JF Leclerc

To coincide with its exhibition on the composer, ‘Allegro Barbaro: Béla Bartók and Hungarian modernism’, the Musée d’Orsay will be putting on performances of Bartók’s six string quartets and – more intriguingly – his rarely heard single-act opera ‘The Wooden Prince’. From its straightforward fairy-tale synopsis (prince and princess fall in love, are separated by mischievous fairy, then eventually reunited), Bartók weaves an enigmatic tale of love, infatuation, hallucination and deception. The action is carried by a delightfully subtle orchestration, dominated by woodwind, which draws on Wagner, Debussy and above all Hungarian folk music. Something of a watershed in Bartók’s engagement with the musical traditions of his homeland, ‘The Wooden Prince’ is far more interesting, more significant, than its minor status would suggest. We can’t wait.

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