Classical Music | Music for Duo

Béla Bartók

Violin Sonata No. 2  Play

Jade Duo Duo

Recorded on 08/10/2016, uploaded on 03/15/2017

Musician's or Publisher's Notes


Violin Sonata No. 2, Sz. 76    Béla Bartók
I.     Molto moderato
II.     Allegretto

Bartók wrote his two sonatas for violin and piano in 1921–22 and dedicated them to the Hungarian violinist Jelly d’Arányi. Both the piano and violin were central to Bartók’s compositional output. The piano was his own instrument, and the violin represented peasant music as well as European art music. The two-movement structure of Sonata No.2 comes from the Hungarian verbunkos, contrasting a slow rhapsodic section (lassú) and a faster dance section (friss).

The first movement begins with one of Bartók’s favorite intervals—the tritone—a marker of the atonalism that he uses liberally throughout. The piano’s low A-sharp is evocative of a bass drone with the wailing E as the start of a vocal rhapsody. After a brief pause comes the soft, wafting ornaments of the lassú, which at first float above the piano before rapidly building to a frenzy. The rhapsodic character of this movement comes from frequent changes of tempo and dynamics, contrasting softly uttered phrases with violent outbursts. Parts of the opening material return before the first movement blends into the second through an accelerando. The rapid (friss) second movement changes tempo frequently between varying degrees of quickness and assaults the ear with harsh dissonances of every type. The movement builds to a feverish pitch of gypsy passagework and crashes of piano chords. After a hectic violin cadenza of increasing virtuosity, the texture becomes more sustained and slows back into the hora lunga melody before ending in near silence on an ethereal C-major triad.       Zhen Chen