artok: The Miraculous Mandarin: Suite No. 2/Hungarian Peasant Songs

Bartók: The Miraculous Mandarin, Suite No. 2 & Hungarian Peasant Songs

Performing with: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Thomas Dausgaard and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra make delicious capital of the score’s illicit colours with trombone glissandos and bluesy pentatonic exoticism laid on with the proverbial trowel. Bartók’s artful mix of the brutal and the sensual –musical sadomasochism at its ugliest and most alluring – is key here and Dausgaard pulls no punches, launching us head-on into the mother of all Manhattan traffic jams with its honking trombones and woodwind brake squeals, then to chronicle the sleaze all the way to a neon-lit entry of the Mandarin.

Edward Seckerson


Dausgaard carries us along on the crest of the dramatic wave, whether the overt ballet narrative or the unpredictable nooks and crannies that pepper the Suite.

BBC Music Magazine


Bartók’s ‘The Miraculous Mandarin’ (published as ‘A Pantomime in One Act’) was composed at a time of violent unrest in Hungary. The Soviet Hungarian Republic had collapsed in 1919 and was replaced by an ultra-nationalist regime which persecuted communists, Jews and leftists and left over 1,500 dead and thousands imprisoned without trial.

It is against this bloody political and social backdrop that the composer, recovering from Spanish Flu, set about a musical depiction of Lengyel’s ‘pantomime grotesque’.

Prior to this period, and after the large-scale Suite No.1 of 1905, Bartók commenced work on a second suite. Smaller in scale than No.1 it is imbued with the folk music he had been studying. It was premiered in 1910.

Bartók was spared service in World War I after failing several medicals. He spent the war years collecting folk songs and some of these provided material for the Hungarian Peasant Songs, which he returned to in 1933 and orchestrated.

This album is the second in a survey of all the composer’s works for orchestra by Thomas Dausgaard and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.


The Miraculous Mandarin, Sz. 73
1. I. Introduction
2. II. 1st Decoy Game
3. III. 2nd Decoy Game
4. IV. 3rd Decoy Game
5. V. The Mandarin Enters
6. VI. Dance of the Girl
7. VII. The Chase
8. VIII. Suddenly the Mandarin’s Head Appears
9. IX. The Mandarin Falls on the Floor

Hungarian Peasant Songs, Sz. 100
10. I. Romance
11. II. Allegro
12. III. Allegretto
13. IV. Allegro
14. V. Largamento
15. VI. Moderato
16. VII. Allegro moderato
17. VIII. Allegro

Suite No. 2, Sz. 34:
18.I. Comodo
19. II. Allegro scherzando
20. III. Andante
21. IV. Comodo