Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Zoltan Kocsis Died Exactly A Month Ago

I was shocked to find out today that the great Hungarian pianist, composer and conductor,  Zoltan Kocsis died on November 6th.   He'd been having heart trouble for the past five years or so, it shouldn't have been a shock to read the old news of his death this morning, but it is.  You can't help but feel strange when someone you remember as being so young and vital and younger than you are has died while you didn't but that's what I'm thinking just now.   When I read he was 64  when he died the first thought that came to mind was that Bela Bartok was the same age when he died,  Kocsis was renowned for his brilliant and faithful interpretation of Bartok's music, clearly the result of fidelity to the score and his study of the recordings that Bartok left of his music.  He also was taught by and knew many of the musicians who had studied with Bartok.

Here is a live recording of him playing the Bartok Sonata, certainly one of the best performances of the piece in its history.  In the first movement the part where there are so many voices in different registers of the keyboard going at one time is jaw dropping in its relentless drive.  The second movement with its climaxes of blazing, overpowering light amid the glowing quiet passages and the powerful optimism of the last rondo movement ..... it would be better to hear it than to read about it.

But Kocsis was more than "just" a Bartok interpreter, he played a wide range of music with both great originality and great integrity.   I'll post more of those performances in the coming days.


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