Concert Notes

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 Music 
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.