Klassik  SoloInstrument mit Orchester
Tomas Dratva & Paul Goodwin & kammerorchesterbasel Janos Tamas: Konzert für Klavier und Orchester (1965) - Lichtspiel (1971) OC 750 CD
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FormatAudio CD
Ordering NumberOC 750
Release date05.03.2010
Players/ContributorsMusicians Composer
  • Tamás, János

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      Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1965) · Display of lights (1971)
      Improvisations (1959) · Frost flowers (1977)
      Tomas Dratva, piano
      Paul Goodwin, conductor

      János Tamás was born in 1936 in Budapest but lived in Switzerland from 1956 on. He studied composition with Sándor Veress in Bern. His oeuvre contains 120 works from nearly all musical genres. Tamás died in 1995 in Aarau. The Association for the Promotion of János Tamás has dedicated itself to preserving the composer’s works.
      Tamás’ piano concerto from 1965 is written in the tradition of Béla Bartók. The highly virtuosic piano part is contrasted by a full orchestra playing in tightly woven counterpoint. The work was never performed during Tamás’ life; the concerto was not heard until February; a live recording of its premiere is found on this CD. The concerto is complemented by some of the composer’s early compositions for solo piano. The A Hungarian composer in Switzerland: piano works by János Tamás pieces from the Eisblumen cycle (Frost flowers) are often played today, not in the least because they are required pieces by the Swiss Youth Music Competition.

      János Tamás:
      Piano Concerto & Early Music for Piano

      János Tamás wrote his Piano Concerto shortly after completing composition studies with Sándor Veress in Bern, Switzerland. He wrote the work of his own accord; he had not received a commission and no performance was in sight. János Tamás soon gave the manuscript to Swiss pianist Karl Engel and asked him to premiere it if possible. Engel seemed enthusiastic about the work but reported that he was unable to perform it for the time being (“I have your Piano Concerto here and have looked through it thoroughly. It is a highly interesting work, extremely energetic, a very tough piece! I would be happy to play it but do not know when and where. Next season I have to premiere a concerto by Schibler (…). It is difficult to perform new works, e.g. I have two concertos by Busoni that have never been performed and that I have recommended for three years, but until now, no one has wanted to have them.” K. Engel in a letter to J. Tamás from 12/16/1967). In the following years, János Tamás’s correspondence makes no more mention of the work. In 1973, Karl Engel returned the manuscript to him with an apology – he had never been able to perform it. In the meantime, however, János Tamás was involved in many other projects: compositions, conducting and teaching activities. The Piano Concerto from 1965 remained only a manuscript in a drawer. It was never performed during his life. In 2007, Tomas Dratva took on the manuscript, finally premiering the work on February 9, 2009 as part of the Boswil Meisterkonzerte concert series, accompanied by the Basel chamber orchestra under the direction of Paul Goodwin.

      Stylistically, János Tamás’s Piano Concerto is oriented to the music of Béla Bartók – an obvious reference for a Hungarian musician. During the 1960s, Bartók’s own three piano concertos were considered modern classics. János Tamás, also a pianist, succeeded in writing a virtuosic piano part. Many contrapuntal elements alternate between orchestra and piano, but in all three movements, rhythm dominates the musical character. The orchestra displays a wealth of tonal color with its many wind and brass instruments.

      I. Allegro moderato. The first movement is relatively short, acting as a compact “Introit”. It immediately gets to the point; the piano and orchestra begin together. The exposition is characterized by dense, accented orchestral interjections and a lively two-part 16th-note run in the piano that ends with energetic syncopated octaves. During these octave cascades, a second, triplet-dominated theme with an almost grotesquely dancelike character sneaks into the piano part and quickly gets out of hand. The orchestra chases the piano and its increasingly wild figures, before release comes in the form of a very contrapuntal solo cadenza.

      II. Adagio, molto tranquillo. This slow, lyrical movement is characterized by three themes. It begins with a declamatory, syncopated song-like melody in the piano that is taken over by a calm refrain in the manner of a chorale. The third theme is a fugato rich with variation, which begins in the strings and is then continued by the piano and woodwinds. The movement gains its symmetry from two climaxes and the refrain that allows the music to return to a state of serenity.

      III. Allegro con fuoco. After short, loud wind fanfares, the dotted main theme is launched in the piano in a fiery, 7/4 tempo. A fast round dance between the piano and orchestra follows, during which the theme is constantly varied. But the music repeatedly has its slower “meno mosso” sections, which feature pianissimo tympani ostinati. In formal terms, the movement could be termed a nearly “classical” final rondo form.

      The five Improvisations (1959) constitute János Tamás’s earliest published cycle for solo piano. They can be considered as stylistic studies in which the composer spontaneously explores pianistic sound-worlds. Pieces I, III and IV are primarily characterized by their melodies, while rhythmic pithiness, a sonorous and large piano sound and virtuosic ascending runs are especially noteworthy in piece II and the finale. What all pieces have in common is their search for a personal pianistic language, a search that the Piano Concerto – written six years later – would fulfill. The short piece Lichtspiel (“Display of lights”, 1971) was written during a vacation and compositional retreat in the Bernese Oberland. It is inspired by the lights in a modern villa in Wengen, where János Tamás composed the work. In this trill and tremolo study, Tamás develops his own logical notation techniques. With the exception of the last two tones, the piece moves solely in the upper register of the piano keyboard; a very bright basic color dominates the sound throughout.

      Eisblumen (“Frost flowers”, 1977) is still an extremely popular work and very well known by the younger generation of Swiss pianists, for whom it is often a required piece at Swiss musical competitions for youth. The 14 miniatures can be seen as part of the important tradition of didactic piano compositions that is especially evident in Hungary. The composer wrote about his works:

      The 14 Miniatures for piano are aphoristic mood studies for articulation. Didactically, their goals are to promote [the development of] free musicmaking by means of highly sensitive expressiveness, the revelation of tonal colors and the use of pedal.

      The atmospheric, the meditative, the rubato, the poetry and magic of sound are first and foremost in these works, but are also meant to elicit imagination and intuition. Performers and listeners will hopefully enjoy the quiet melancholy and the discovery of what is indirect and has only been alluded to.

      “Eisblumen”: bizarre, crystalline, very delicate depictions of quiet.

      (© Hug&Co. Musikverlag, Zürich)
      Tomas Dratva
      Translation: Elizabeth Gahbler

      János Tamás

      János Tamás was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1936 and died in Aarau, Switzerland in 1995. He was a major figure in Swiss musical life from the 1960s on. Although his musical activities ranged from teaching to conducting to piano performance, composing became increasingly central to his life. His compositional legacy consists of some 120 works from nearly all musical genres.

      Before emigrating to Switzerland in 1956, Tamás had attended the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, studying piano as well as composition (with Ferenc Farkas). He concluded his studies at the conservatory in Bern, Switzerland, taking composition with Sándor Veress.

      He was then appointed solo accompanist at the Zurich Opera and Director of Studies at the American “Corbett Foundation” opera studio in Zurich. Beginning in the 1960s, Tamás often conducted the Biel-Solothurn Städtebund Theater, the Swiss “Guest Performance” opera and the Aarau Orchestra. He was the primary piano teacher at the Aarau canton school as well.

      In addition to the two oratorios Noah’s Daughter and Voices of the Earth, János Tamás’s compositional oeuvre includes vocal and choral music, orchestral works as well as a great deal of chamber and piano music. Among other things, he wrote commissioned works for Paul Sacher, for the Swiss Cultural Foundation Pro Helvetia, for the Aargau Board of Trustees and for the canton of Solothurn.

      “Maybe music is something timeless that is always in us and is only waiting to be composed. My ideal would be to write timeless, universal, simple and easily understandable music, and I wish to give new meaning to the term ‘beauty’. For me, music is like an underground ocean from which the composer draws. I never ask myself what I should compose, but rather: what music wishes to be composed through me!”

      (János Tamás)

      A detailed list of the composer’s works can be found at www.janostamas.ch

      Tomas Dratva – Pianist

      Swiss pianist Tomas Dratva, who currently lives in Basel, appears as a soloist and chamber musician in many European countries as well as in the USA and South America. Performances in festivals and concert series have taken him to Lisbon, Buenos Aires, London, Bratislava, Washington D.C., Prague, Stockholm, Barcelona, New York City, San Francisco, Bad Kissingen, Dallas, Berlin, Bayreuth, Minsk, Krakow, Budapest, Dresden, Paris, Milan and Florence; he has performed as a soloist with orchestras that include the Tonhalle Orchester Zurich, Basel Symphony Orchestra, Slovakian Philharmonic Košice, Kremerata Baltica, Kammerorchester Basel, Prague Sinfonietta, Slovakian Sinfonietta, RSO Bratislava and Lucerne Symphony Orchestra.

      Tomas Dratva regularly releases CDs and has recorded over 70 works for many European radio broadcasting institutions. He supplements his wealth of solo repertoire with many-sided chamber music activities. One of his most important ensembles is the Trio Animæ, which he co-founded.

      Performance of 20th century and contemporary music is an artistic challenge that Tomas Dratva finds one of his most important tasks. He regularly participates in premieres and collaborates with numerous composers.

      For a number of years, Tomas Dratva has also championed the compositions of Swiss-Hungarian composer János Tamás. With the premiere and recording of Tamás’s Piano Concerto, Tomas Dratva has posthumously brought one of the composer’s most important works to light.

      The pianist has also entered new territory with his highly celebrated reconstruction, first recording and performances of lost piano concertos of the Bohemian Mozart-contemporary Leopold Koželuch.

      Paul Goodwin

      Paul Goodwin has become one of Britain’s most versatile conductors, renowned for his historically informed interpretations of baroque, classical and romantic music, while also being a great advocate of contemporary music.

      Paul has a close and fruitful relationship with the kammerorchesterbasel, with whom he performs both on modern and period instruments in a wide range of repertoire from Bach and Handel to Stravinsky and contemporary Swiss composers. He is also a regular guest conductor with the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrucken Kaiserslautern. Paul was the Principal Guest Conductor of the English Chamber Orchestra for six years, as well as Associate Conductor of the Academy of Ancient Music for over 10 years.

      From 2011 he will be taking up the position of Music Director and Conductor of the Carmel Bach Festival in California.

      Paul has a wide symphonic repertoire, conducting orchestras including the BBC Philharmonic, the Hallé Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Scottish Chamber Orchestra. In the US he has conducted the Minnesota Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra Washington, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. In Europe, the Belgium and Spanish National Orchestras, Helsinki and Royal Stockholm Philharmonics and the Bayerisches, Hessisches, MDR Leipzig and NDR Hannover Rundfunkorchester and the Rotterdam Philharmonic.

      Paul Goodwin was awarded the Handel Honorary Prize of the City of Halle in 2007 in recognition of his extraordinary services to performances of works by George Frederic Handel.


      The Basel Chamber Orchestra (BCO) was founded in 1984 by graduates of several Swiss Academies of Music. Since then it has become one of Europe’s most renowned and popular chamber ensembles.

      With programs that combine both early and modern music, the BCO continues a tradition that its musical patron and conductor Paul Sacher of Basel established with extraordinary success.

      Numerous invitations and awards reflect the group’s development into one of the city of Basel’s most enthusiastic cultural emissaries. Most recently, the BCO received the Sponsorship Award of the Ernst von Siemens Foundation (2006) and the ‘Young Ears’ First Prize for the Windrose (compass card) project, a musical education project done in cooperation with the Basel region (2007).

      In recent years, the BCO has received international recognition at many music festivals. It regularly performs in renowned concert halls in London, Amsterdam, Cologne, Berlin, Zurich, Munich, Vienna, Valencia and Paris.

      The ensemble often works with conductors Giovanni Antonini, David Stern, Paul McCreesh, Kristjan Järvi and Paul Goodwin.

      Credit Suisse has been the BCO’s main sponsor and partner since July 2007.

      Further information is available under:

      Tracklist hide

      CD 1
      • ErKonzert für Klavier und Orchester (1965)
        Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
        • 1.Allegro moderato04:30
        • 2.Adagio, molto tranquillo08:36
        • 3.Allegro con fuoco07:41
      • 4.Lichtspiel (1971)
        Display of lights
      • Improvisationen (1959)
        • 5.Largo03:17
        • 6.Sanft bewegt02:23
        • 7.Andante02:11
        • 8.Andantino01:44
        • 9.Allegro ma non troppo e capriccioso01:49
      • Eisblumen – 14 Miniaturen für Klavier (1977)
        Frost flowers – 14 Miniatures for Piano
        • 10.Elegie · Elegy01:07
        • 11.Meditation · Meditation03:17
        • 12.Frage · Question01:14
        • 13.Wiegenlied · Lullaby01:20
        • 14.Nachtsinnen · Nocturnal reflections01:38
        • 15.Nebel · Fog01:18
        • 16.Klirrklang · Jangling00:27
        • 17.Fortgang · Departure01:03
        • 18.Einsam · Solitude01:03
        • 19.Dämmerung · Dusk01:19
        • 20.Zwielicht · Twilight02:32
        • 21.Ahnung · Foreboding01:41
        • 22.Abend · Evening01:00
        • 23.Eisblumen · Frost flowers01:43
      • Total:56:48