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Bartok - Violin sonata N1 op.21

Bartok - Violin sonata N1 op.21. You can download the PDF sheet music Bartok - Violin sonata N1 op.21 on this page. Bartok's Violin Sonata No. 1 contains three movements. The slow second movement and fast third movement recall the basic structure of the classical sonata. The first movement also draws on the tradition in its division into exposition, development, and recapitulation. The motif of declamatory stamp at the core of the dominant violin part itself focuses on a single tone but makes room for shifting tonal shapes.

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Instrument part: 21 pages. 2324 K


Piano part: 51 pages. 6366 K


Bartok - Violin sonata N1 op.21 - Instrument part - First page Bartok - Violin sonata N1 op.21 - Piano part - First page
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What happens in this first sonata movement with the heading Allegro appassionato with its sound stream of improvisational wildness and torrent of passionate gesturing and moments of uneasy peace corresponds to one of Bartok's fundamental principles of design, that of the permanent variation of musical ideas which he never has appear twice in the same way.

This creative principle came about as a result of his long years of experience with the various melodic forms of peasant music.  It also unfolds in the middle of the development section and at the beginning of the recapitulation. The exposition already points to the foundation of characteristic connections continuing to apply even in the further course of the sonata. The figuration obtained from the core motif and expanding out in both directions already harbors the design for the following transitional section. This section recasts the broad melody leaps into a new compact shape.

The relationship of the two instrumental parts also shows just how much a melodic change of direction may at times serve as the variative drive for continuous movement. The two instruments demonstrate some affinity but do not lose their own mo-tivic profiles. In the sweeping secondary subject the piano second theme of rhythmic stamp happens upon a principal motivic entry of the violin and traces its movements in similar forms. The motion models themselves are enlarged to virtuoso arpeggios and then narrow down to pure bariolage back-and-forth. This motion spectrum extended by various trill configurations and the intonations of the violin in the highest range reflect Szymanowski's instrumental style.

At the time Bartok the interpreter was also on very familiar terms with Szymanowski's music. The C sharp major chord underlying the violin theme, in figural fragmentation, and dissonant extension marks the tonal center of the movement and of the finale as well. At the conclusion, however, it occurs in a modified tonal constellation and makes for dissonances in its encounter with the A minor third of the violin part as it is fading away.

The Adagio middle movement contains three parts and makes for a sharp contrast far exceeding traditional bounds. Bartok has a pair of musical ideas follow the dynamic upheaval of the first movement. The ideas manifest themselves melodically and tonally over a static foundation. A long, lonely violin monologue unfolds in a tender espressivo; it is only with some hesitation that it frees itself from the circling motion and only later on that it gains altitude, »a singing in abstract suffering peace« (Tallian). The piano offers a cautious answer with the serious progress of tonal motion in spacious triadic parallels - this reflecting what Bartok had learned from Debussy.

The dialoguing instruments meet during the further course of their step-by-step ascent. The violin melody swings back down from the heights with sweeping gestures. This process has a model character; it takes on several steps at its point of departure and then a new form leading to a comprehensive synthesis. It concludes the first part of the movement in the following free variation. In the third part the process of dialogic inspiration goes far beyond that of a simple recapitulation.

The piano part already lends tonal support to the violin melody, which now is figured in an improvisational rubato manner. Its backswing Is now the melodic goal at the end of the movement and its increasing intertwinement of the two instrumental parts. Here Bartok makes full use of the variative potential of the instrumental parts. The conclusion once again recalls the principal motif from the first movement. The duality resulting from the pair of ideas manifests itself with greater formal clarity in the rhapsodic contrast of the middle section. The violin expresses its painfully bitter, tragic message in short, rhythmically accented motifs in a halting sequence. The piano part offers opposite support with single tones in the low registers; it then takes over the broader tonal character and mixes in the violin part circling figurally around new supporting tones. Even this pair of melodically and tonally expounded opposites follows the principle of variative intensification on its repetition.

The last movement is a veritable dance finale. As already the case in the String Quartet No. 2, it counters the subject expressions of the preceding movements, »the torments of self-lacerating worry« (Ujfalussy) with the objectifying primal force of Southeastern European folk music. The scenarios swirl by as in a perpetuum mobile and are structured in the form of the variative weave of a rondo. The principal theme takes its inspiration from Rumanian instrumental music. It is only after long figural passages on the G string that it opens up to the upper registers. This theme is followed by a piano theme in the same sort of figural continuation.
As in a role reversal, the violin formulates new dance motifs (after No. 18) leading back to the introductory theme. The motifs are formed from previously expounded chordal repetitions which had functioned as the accompaniment. The new beginning includes a rhythmically broader piano variant of this theme and an extended dance scherzando. Except for the piano theme, all the themes parade by in compact form one last time in the recapitulation and coda.


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