2012 Violinist.com Tournament, Round 1, Day 5: Mendelssohn Violin Concerto vs. Bartok Violin Concerto No. 2
March 16, 2012 at 5:38 PM
We continue with our effort to fill the air with talk about Violin Concertos over talk about college basketball….(Just look at the kind of effort put into the NCAA college basketball tournament brackets in the U.S.!)
Today we have the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto vs. Bartok Violin Concerto No. 2:
Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 by Felix Mendelssohn
Mendelssohn wrote his E minor violin concerto for the violinist Ferdinand David, who premiered the work in 1845 in Leipzig. The first movement's cadenza is fun for its ricochet bariolage (rocking a bouncing bow across four strings -- it takes some figuring out!), the second for its use of double-stops and the third for its spritely motion. The concerto has three movements:
I. Allegro molto appassionato II. Andante III. Allegretto non troppo – Allegro molto vivace
Here is a performance of the entire Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, with Dutch violinist Janine Jansen and the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms. In the video, little notes about the piece and performance pop up along the way, and they are actually quite informative. You can choose to read those or tune them out and just enjoy the performance:
Violin Concerto No. 2, BB 117 by Béla Bartók
Written in 1937–38, this concerto was dedicated to the Hungarian violinist, Zoltán Székely. Its aesthetic fits with the Interwar era in which is was composed; dabbling with serialism and 12-tone themes.
Here violinist Kyung-Wha Chung with Suedwestfunks Symphony Orchestra conducted by her brother Myung-Whun Chung; filmed in 1984 for SWR Germany.
This one was really hard for me! But I went with Mendelssohn in the end... I'm surprised it's not more of an equal match-up. I often see Bartok 2 portrayed as the violin concerto masterpiece of the twentieth century.
It is kind of unfair to compare Mendelssohn with something composed almost 100 years later, as the case is here. There is a tone of stuff you have to consider to be as objective as you can. Either way I think that Bartok has more things to say today than Mendelssohn, either though I know how unfair this may sound.
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