At the beginning of a video documentary chronicling the recording sessions for Bartók’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion in 1987, Sir Georg Solti said, “I was fortunate enough. I met in my life many great musicians, composers, conductors, piano players. But if I’m looking back on my long life now today, who is the musician whom I admire most, I think it is Bartók.”
Solti was also a part of the premiere in Hungary, and recounted in his Memoirs: “I remember that in 1938, when Bartók and his wife, Ditta Pásztory, gave the Hungarian premiere of his Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, with Ernest Ansermet conducting, at the Budapest Opera, I was called upon at the last minute to turn pages for Mrs. Bartók. As I had not seen the complicated score before, the task was not easy. I have never in my life attended any other performance that had as little success as this one. When the piece ended, most of the audience remained silent; then there were a few perfunctory claps. I felt sad and embarrassed for Bartók.”
With fellow pianist Murray Perahia and percussionists Evelyn Glennie and David Corkhill, Solti recorded the sonata at Snape Maltings Concert Hall in October 1987. For the release, the sonata was paired with Solti and Perahia’s account of Brahms’s Variations on a Theme by Haydn recorded in September 1982.
For CBS Masterworks Records, Anthony B. Faulkner was the control engineer, Peter Jones was the tape operator and technical supervisor, and Thomas MacCluskey was the editor. The recording won the 1988 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
The video documentary was released by Kultur and was directed by Herbert Chappell. A few excerpts from the program are posted below.
The attached YouTube videos are not the property of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association. We just thought they were interesting.