ACO musicians on the uniquely visceral music of Bartók
In our next National Concert Season tour, the Orchestra will take on Dvořák's sublimely beautiful Serenade for Strings and Bartók’s visceral String Quartet No.5 – arranged for strings by Richard Tognetti – in one rewarding program.
While all ACO programs delight and challenge the Orchestra as much as our fifth tour, this combination of pieces – which will also include Pulitzer- and Grammy-winning New York-based composer Caroline Shaw's Entr'acte and Josef Suk’s Meditation on the Old Czech Hymn St Wenceslas – is particularly technically challenging, especially when it comes to the Bartók.
"To prepare for Bartók's String Quartet No.5 requires a lot of study, beyond learning the many fast and challenging notes on your instrument," ACO Cello Melissa Barnard says. "First, listening to the music repeatedly while following the score with all the parts helps to understand the complexity of how the lines fit together, then slowly learning your part and working it up to his (often frenzied) tempos, before we come together to pull it apart and then put it together again - phrase by phrase, section by section - until we have processed it enough in our brains and bodies to play movements through!"
"It’s a lot of fascinating detailed work," Melissa says. "Then you add the adrenalin of live performance to hopefully create an expressive and electrifying event. This is music I really look forward to playing as it’s a true event for a musician and a 'tour de force' for a quartet or chamber orchestra to perform."
We have been catching up with our musicians about what makes Bartók’s music so challenging for string players, and why the String Quartet No.5 will take them to the very extremes of their playing.
This really is music you’ve got to experience live. We can’t wait.
'Intoxicating and enchanting dance-like character'
Ike See, ACO Violin
'energetic and visceral'
Liz Woolnough, ACO Viola
'extreme emotional experiences'