Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 2
Notes by TŌN violinist Samuel Frois
A Significant Work
Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 2 is one of the most significant works in the violin concerto repertoire. Written between 1937 and 1938, the concerto is a testament to the Hungarian composer’s unique compositional style and his love for folk music. It is a challenging piece that showcases the violinist’s technical and interpretive skills, and its emotional intensity is sure to move any listener. It is a testament to Bartók’s genius as a composer and his profound understanding of the expressive possibilities of the violin.
The concerto is divided into three movements, each with its own distinctive character. The first movement begins with a haunting melody played by the solo violin. The orchestra then enters with a pulsating rhythm, which builds to a frenzied climax before subsiding back to the soloist. The movement is characterized by a dark, brooding atmosphere, with hints of the composer’s signature use of dissonance. The second movement is a stark contrast to the first. The solo violin introduces a serene, almost hymn-like melody, which is then taken up by the orchestra. The movement has a hypnotic quality, with the orchestra providing a lush and dreamy backdrop for the soloist’s ruminative musings. It is a beautiful and introspective piece that showcases Bartók’s ability to create compelling and evocative music. The final movement is a tour-de-force of virtuosity and energy. The solo violin leads the charge with a series of virtuosic runs and trills, which are echoed and expanded upon by the orchestra. The movement is characterized by its intense rhythmic drive and its use of folk-inspired themes. It is a fitting conclusion to the concerto, bringing the piece to a thrilling and satisfying close.