Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra- A Poetic Response

Saturday 13th January was my first experience of the London Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle. One thing and another sadly prevented me from hearing the first half of the concert’s Genesis Suite, but luckily arrived in time to hear the incomparable Concerto for Orchestra by the Hungarian composer Bela Bartok.

I had the idea of a sort of live poetry stream as the concert was running. Although we were in almost complete darkness, I set about this challenge, jotting ideas in my notebook and couldn’t believe how natural it felt. The concert began with a reading of a letter Bartok wrote to his friend whilst writing the concerto. The letter talked in great detail about how much the natural imagery surrounding him inspired the writing of the piece. We were also prompted by a back- drop of nature scenes, each refleting a movement of the concerto.

The orchestra were so detailed and expressive in their use of colours. Each member knew their role and were frequently given clear direction and artistic inspiration from Rattle. He struck me as the work’s true soloist and was indefatigable in his commitment, charm and love towards both music and orchestra.

The poem beneath is a totally unedited version of what I wrote as the music was playing. It was so tempting to edit it as I was typing it up, but I felt it important to stay true to the words that came to me in the moment. This new style of poetry has never felt so natural, this down foremost to the orchestra’s poetic excellence!

 

bartokrattle

Painting by Philippa Butterworth

 

The mist is sort of solid

It’s humming a cheerful tune

Laden with discontented discords

The mist clears to expose

Such a raw urgency, a coarse tension

Imagery of such hills as these pushes

My vast imagination further-

A blanket of interweaving paths

None quite explored, and yet cheerfully

Enticing

To be shown either side of a peace,

A deep sleep encircled with pungent colour

And warm horizons slowly encroaching

 

This clan chuckles

In thirds, a joyful good morning

A mockery of our silent peacefulness

Some stark hunger to provoke this

Creeping, a hide and seek

Where’s my laughter faded to

Once upheld by strong sun stokes

 

Mischief in pairs

One, two, three to brighten

Our dreary winters

 

Seasons, both heavy and light

Inhabit the clearings in our conscious mind

An elegy for those swimming in grief

Such as this

A deep hole of loss, a pool of tears

Need never be understood-

Too close for comfort

These variants on love and death

A memory kept alive through shortness of time

The fear is greeted with a shaft of sweetened light

The darkness is softened, knelled in our joy’s

Raging sun

 

Images of meadows etcet. Etcet.

Is this all too obvious?

Yet

It feels so genuine!

Oh blow,

Let’s sit another hour

This love is so bright and blooming

And it intercepts our longing for

Whatever.

 

Great swathes of energy

Hurl us towards this huge beacon

Stinging, reaching

Energy to fill intensities of sorrow,

A persistent murmur of peace.

Here sits the contemplative

A rising joy, that these days have strengthened

In their outbursts they raise us up to Him.

 

Hattie Butterworth