THE BLOG
11/16/2011 06:03 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Classical Meets World (Video)

This is the first in a series on the Dutch Classical Meeting and WOMEX 2011.

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I fly freely between musical categories. Jazz, world, classical -- they are all great music, and the boundaries between them are getting more and more permeable.

Formal written music has been mining folk motifs for hundreds of years, so one could make a case that classical music has a tradition of "world music" built right in! So let's start off with something from the Dutch Classical Meeting in Amsterdam, a performance of Bartok's Romanian Dances. Along with his stature as a pivotal composer, Bartok was famous for his travels throughout Central Europe and the Balkans collecting the folk music of the regions, and sometimes integrating the melodies within his own works. "Romanian Dances" is a fabulous, juicy piece for any violinist with a flair for the dramatic, and Daniel Rowland digs in with gusto. This video was shot at an after hours showcase, and took place in the hotel bar-- so forgive the low light. Rowland is accompanied by Natacha Kudritskaya on piano.

Of course, this is Romanian (and arguably Hungarian) music filtered through a composer's sensibility, and further filtered through the violinist's; if you are curious to hear how a real Romanian Romani band might play these same melodies, check out "Maskarada" by Taraf de Haidouks. There's quite a difference!

Two decades after Bartok's death, Hungarians were resisting Soviet attempts to obliterate their music. Following in Bartok's footsteps, ethnomusicologists and musicians started secret forays into Transylvania, a Hungarian enclave in Romania where the Ceauşescu regime's neglect had -- ironically -- preserved the folk culture. Thus was born the táncház movement, wherein the young people of the time learned the music and dances of a Magyar heritage that had been forbidden to them. The opening night at WOMEX 2011 in Copenhagen was called "Hungarian Heartbeats," and it showcased excellent and varied bands and soloists. Tükrös provided the táncház element. They even brought along two excellent dancers, Kádár Ignác and Baranyai Barbara. After all, tanchaz IS dance music, so watch for some fancy footwork in the second half of this video.

It's fascinating to compare the playing styles of all these great musicians, from the grinding power of András Lelkes' upright bass (I love that short, sturdy bow!) to Daniel Rowland's silky mastery, and to consider they are all interpreting music from the same root.

Tükrös is: Péter Arandás on the viola, Attila Halmos on the violin, Gergely Koncz on the violin, András Lelkes on the double bass, and Endre Liber on viola.