Sunday, January 3, 2010

Tibor Kozma plays Bartok

This is a lovely record from Bartok Records, their #918, though I don't believe it is any longer available on their site. Recorded in very natural sounding monaural, this very well used record really came to life after running a decrackle filter. I did a further dehiss, and a high pass with a cutoff of 80hz to get rid of some rumble without compromising the fullness of the bass. To my ears it sounds pretty good.

Tibor Kozma was a beloved conducting instructor at the University of Indiana at Bloomington, , for many years after conducting and coaching at the Metropolitan Opera, where he made a number of recordings. He did at least one other project for Bartok Records, as pianist on a record of folk songs arrranged by Bartok and Kodaly -- Bartok Records #904. Wikipedia has an informative, basic article on him. He does a quite creditable job here, even if he does lose himself briefly in the final measures of the Folk Dances. Those are ubiquitously available, though, (by Foldes, Schiff, and Sandor, to name only three in my personal collection) while recordings of the Bagatelles and Christmas Carols, where he acquits himself nicely, are harder to come by.

The Bagatelles are a revelation, presenting Bartok's early harmonic thinking in charming, short piano pieces that serve as a primer to elements that will remain in the master's musical vocabulary throughout some of his greatest masterpieces. To hear them presented here with such disarming simplicity is to remember once again the deep roots in Balkan folk music of Bartokian modernism.

Link to all files


  1. Thank you for sharing this fine LP.

    I have never heard of Tibor Kozma before, a very pleasant discovery! His Bartok is warm, soft and attractive. The composer himself recorded at least one Bagatelle. There is a modern recording with Kocsis: he is more tense than Kozma.

    I liked the Roumanian dances too: the final fast dance is performed less accurately, but the first five ones are charming.

  2. Sturla: Thank you for the comment. I also like this record, and, as mentioned, agree with your assessment of the final Roumanian dance. I'll have to try to listen to the Kocsis, which I do not know. The Foldes and Schiff are probably my recordings of choice at this point, but I'm sure the Kocsis is a worthy contender.