Hungary's oldest record company to publish entire works of Bela Bartok

Bela Bartok

Last year was a double anniversary of the great Hungarian composer Bela Bartok - his 125th birthday and the 60th anniversary of his death in exile in New York in 1945. Now, the entire works of Bela Bartok are to be published by Hungary's oldest record company - Hungaroton. Gyorgyi Jakobi of Radio Budapest spoke to Hungaroton's acting manager, Mate Hollos:

"This will be the second complete edition of Bartok's work. We already had one CD of this kind two years ago, including the Concerto, the Dance Suite, and the Hungarian Peasant Songs, and that was a great success. It won lots of prizes all over the world and showed us that it is not only our opinion that it would really be worth it to record everything with Kocsis [pianist Zoltan Kocsis, Hungarian Philharmonic Orchestra]. We would like to record the other Bartok works, the ones that cannot be conducted or played on the piano, but the artists will also be chosen together with Kocsis."

You have won the right to do so in quite a serious competition...

"When it became clear that the project would be carried out, the government said it would support it with 180 million forints, equally divided within three years. This is a big amount of money, so we had a very strong competitor in this competition - the Budapest Festival Orchestra and the consortium around them. They didn't want to make new recordings - just a few of the rarities. But they had the idea to collect the best Bartok recordings from all over the world, from other record companies' catalogues. I think that is a very interesting idea as well but the National Cultural Fund, which judged the competition, thought a new recording is more preferable and so they chose our project."

The venue of the recordings, the Palace of Art, has excellent acoustics s that's also quite an exciting challenge...

"Yes, it's a very good place to record the orchestral works. We record everything on SA [super audio] CD, which is the most modern technique. If someone has the equipment, it can even be a DVD player, then he can listen to it in a multi-channel version."

Will these new recordings be released continuously or only at the very end?

"Continuously, and we will begin the series by the end of this year and we plan to finish it within five years. In the end we will pit it in a box but it will be available one by one."