The Düsseldorf Tonhalle commissioned this piece from Psathas for Gerassimez to
perform as part of the worldwide “Pastoral Project” launched jointly with the United
Nations Climate Change Secretariat to celebrate the 250th anniversary of
Beethoven’s birthday. This is one of Bartók’s most accessible works; in his conception, its five movements progress from darkness to light. The opening movement is filled with haunting fragments from different solo instruments or groups
displaying their unique characteristics; in the second movement, “Games of Couples,” the instruments show off over a side-drum, dancing in pairs or sounding a soft brass chorale. The middle movement is the work’s core, written in Bartók’s mysterious “night music” style. After that, every instrument gets a moment to shine in the carefree, dancelike Intermezzo. Bartok’s genius provides a formidably complex fugue at the end.