Bartók: Piano concerto n°3 Sz 119, BB 127

Duration : 23 minutes

Bertrand Chamayou performs Béla Bartók's Piano Concerto n°3 with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, conducted by Alan Gilbert. Excerpt from the concert recorded live on 16 March 2019 at the Radio France Auditorium.

Béla Bartók composed his third and final piano concerto during the summer of 1945. Severely ill, the Hungarian composer was forced to reduce his musical activities and thus faced serious financial difficulties. He was commissioned to write a viola concerto, and also began working on a piano concerto that he later dedicated to his wife Ditta Pásztory, concert pianist also on the verge of putting an end to her musical career. The work was thus an opportunity for the composer to express one last time through music the things dearest to him: nature, and traditional Hungarian music. 

The style of the Concerto no.3 differs from the composer's first two piano concertos. Though Bartók kept the traditional structure characteristic of the genre (slow-fast-slow), he radically changed the performance style of the soloist: whereas the piano was often an instrument of percussion for the composer, a laboratory of innovations for musical writing, the instrument here is used in a more melodic and expressive fashion. It would seem that Bartók wished to tailor his concerto to the performance style of Ditta Pásztory, a specialist of Mozart's piano concertos.

In the first movement, Allegretto, the piano quickly exposes the themes of nature and of birdsong. A second theme brings a sense of levity to the movement, written in a sonata form. The second movement, Adagio religioso, is undoubtedly one of Bartók's most poignant: a chorale repeated twice surrounding a dark music, paying homage to one of his favourite composers, Johann-Sebastien Bach. Finally, the Allegro vivace is perhaps the most "Bartókian" of movements, in the form of a rondo, full of percussion and syncopated rhythms.

Concert, from "The Shining" to "2001: A Space Odyssey"
Full concert
From "The Shining" to "2001: A Space Odyssey"
Maison de la Radio, Paris
Béla Bartok
All artists
  • Alan GilbertConductor
  • Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio FranceOrchestra
  • Bertrand ChamayouPerformer