It is really interesting to play Bartok as a folk musician. I have recently started looking at Bartok's Second Rhapsody for violin and orchestra and the similarities between it and contemporary folk music are staggering.
The most important thing I feel is that most people play it 'wrong' (shock horror!), I really do think that playing it (or any Bartok really) like it is Tchaikowski or Brahms is a BIG mistake. Pure and simple, it is folk music (it's even has a subtitle of'Folk Dances') and should be played by someone who has knowledge of what folk music is about (or has at least studied it briefly).
The problem with rigidly 'classical musicians' playing things that are labelled as 'Gypsy themed' or 'Eastern-European' is that the default mode is to play them is in a Carmen-esque tragically inclined way just because they are in a minor key and some German composers back in the early 1700s decided that 'sad' music works best in minor keys. If all 'Eastern-European' music was as depressing as classical music seems to think it is then I think the entire musical population of 'Eastern-Europe' (wherever that is) would have died out centuries ago.
So am I a hypocrite?
An English folk musician (however much I try to cling to my Irish roots) from a classical background with Scottish folk training playing Hungarian folk music.
But, in all fairness, I am abiding by the tenets of the English folk tradition... Steal other peoples music because English trad music is so boring. I joke... Mostly... But in all seriousness English folk has a reputation for being cosmopolitan and this attitude can lend itself well to exploring new styles of music.
This has become apparent in my research into Hungarian folk music idiosyncrasies like ornaments where the ornaments used are remarkably similar to Cape Brêton ornaments and Irish slidey-ness.
I am looking forward to performing it!