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Laurie Niles

2012 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:

Mendelssohn Bartok

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.

Part 1: Movement 1, Allegro non troppo:

Part 2: Movement 1, continued; Movement 2, Andante tranquillo:

Part 3: Movement 3, Allegro molto:

Part 4: Movement 3, continued:

From John Dukes
Posted on March 16, 2012 at 5:58 PM
Why anyone wouldn't vote for the Mendelssohn, is beyond me:) It is one of the best! Although not quite:)
From Bart Meijer
Posted on March 16, 2012 at 6:12 PM
Competitions are for horses, not for concertos.
From Margaret Lee
Posted on March 16, 2012 at 7:24 PM
I was reading too fast and thought it was between Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn, which would have been a tough call.
From Joshua De Anda
Posted on March 16, 2012 at 7:56 PM
Ah, yes! My inspiration to learn Mendelssohn was indeed Jansen's rendition. I'm a sucker for Mendelssoh.
Mendelssohn+Janine Jansen= pure happiness
From Emily Hogstad
Posted on March 16, 2012 at 8:11 PM
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.
From Corwin Slack
Posted on March 16, 2012 at 8:39 PM
Two very worthy concertos in the same pairing. Not easy but ultimately Mendelssohn.
From Karis Crawford
Posted on March 16, 2012 at 8:46 PM
No question for me here. Although the Mendelssohn is beautiful, it's Bartok all the way! I love his style!
From Gene Huang
Posted on March 16, 2012 at 8:59 PM
If you were voting to win, this one was pretty much a gimme...
From Simon Streuff
Posted on March 16, 2012 at 9:07 PM
voted for Bartok... jeeezzz I am a proud minority :D
From Wayne Wilkinson
Posted on March 16, 2012 at 11:14 PM
Voted for Bartok. Mendelssohn didn't even make my original 16 I submitted to Laurie. Personally, I find it over-rated and have never enjoyed playing or listening to it (feel same way about Bruch #1).
From Matthew Dakoutros
Posted on March 17, 2012 at 2:01 AM
There was no way Bartok would won. Although I voted for him, but it was a tough call. In the end it was that Mendelssohn's a great piece of beautiful music, weras Bartok's is a flash of genius.
From Nigel Keay
Posted on March 18, 2012 at 8:55 AM
I voted for Bartok too as it's an infinitely more interesting work, but conservatism rules...
From Paul Deck
Posted on March 18, 2012 at 11:03 PM
"Conservatism rules" is a conclusion not supported by evidence. Maybe some of us really like the Bartok but we like the Mendelssohn more?
From Matthew Dakoutros
Posted on March 19, 2012 at 2:38 PM
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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