Sonata for Solo Violin Sz.117

Composer: Béla Bartók (b. 1881 - d. 1945)
Share :


Composer: Béla Bartók (b. 1881 - d. 1945)

Performance date: 28/06/2014

Venue: Bantry Library

Composition Year: 1944

Duration: 00:27:37

Recording Engineer: Richard McCullough, RTE

Instrumentation: vn

Instrumentation Category:Solo

Artists: Carolin Widmann - [violin]

died of leukaemia in New York
in September 1945. He left the Third Piano Concerto and the Viola Concerto
unfinished and apparently he was preparing sketches for a Seventh Quartet and
wanted to write a new choral work and orchestrate the Romanian Folk Dances. So
despite this late surge of creativity, this solo sonata, commissioned by Yehudi
Menuhin in 1943, is his last completed work. Menuhin had visited Bartók in New York in order to
play through the First Violin Sonata and Bartók had been sufficiently impressed
to accept the violinist’s commission.

is a hugely demanding work for the soloist. The monstrous technical demands of
the Chaconne and the four-part Fugue are only the beginning. The secret of the
slow movement is the ability to play a whispered pianissimo at the extremities
of the violin’s range. However it is not just a technical tour de force but a
work of concentrated emotional and intellectual impact, totally unlike his
previous composition, the Concerto for Orchestra.

is above all an act of homage to Johann Sebastian Bach. The opening chords ring
out with all the confidence of Bach’s own chaconne and the dance form of the
Master is unfolded with all the intellectual rigour at the command of his
twentieth century successor. We find here in this magnificent movement both
understanding and power and even tenderness; Bach as understood by Bartók and
reinterpreted for us. The Fugue is not built on the same enormous scale though
the four parts give it a massive sonority as a contrast to the intimacy and
inwardness of the slow movement. There is a sense of inner peace in this
movement quite unlike the crippling sorrow of the Sixth Quartet, written four
years earlier. The melody returns us to
Hungary, his lost homeland, but
clear-eyed and with great love. The Finale’s perpetual motion continues in the
same hushed pianissimo, before shouting out the joyous dance theme with which
he loved to conclude his works.