Bartók's two Violin Concertos were written thirty years apart, for two virtuosos. While the Second Concerto in the form of variations on a theme that develop ingeniously across three movements, has been well-known for a long time, the first remained unheard for years. Written as a declaration of love for the Hungarian-Swiss violinist Stefi Geyer, for whom Bartók had fallen, it was a secret kept by the dedicatee; it was only long after the composer's death that the violinist let Bartók's patron and close friend, the conductor Paul Sacher, know about the work. He would see that it was performed, with Hansheinz Schneeberger, but only in 1958.
Long overlooked by violinists, today these two concertos are enjoying renewed interest from a new generation of performers. Austrian violinist Benjamin Schmid, whose fame is growing and growing, has a very varied repertoire, and doesn’t hesitate to make the leap between genres, from Bach's Sonatas and Partitas to jazz. Recorded in Pécs, Hungary's fifth city and the 2010 European capital of culture, this new version was made in 2016 and 2017, with the Pannonia Philharmonic Orchestra led by the Finnish conductor of Hungarian extraction, Tibor Bogányi, whose career is bringing him ever-closer to his homeland. © François Hudry/Qobuz