“The point that Bartók used folk elements without employing actual folk tunes is magnificently illustrated by the violin’s long, rhapsodic opening theme, which with its insistence on the intervals of fourths, fifths, and seconds could come from nowhere but Hungary. Bartók sets the stage.. mysterious, brooding, and lush. Purest Bartók.” – Herbert Glass
Composer Béla Bartók, standing near a window, records the songs of Transylvanian villagers on his trusty Edison phonograph in 1907. By 1918 he had collected more than 9,000 Slovak, Hungarian, Romanian, Bulgarian and Serbian tunes.
Not only “Purest Bartók” but also, in the words of our critic du jour, a piece that “has come to be regarded as one of the great 20th-century violin concertos, indeed in the history of the genre.” And, as it turns out for Heifetz 2021 student Miranda Werner, an ideal “pandemic practice piece,” given the richly nuanced, folk-influenced texture of the Violin Concerto No. 2 by Hungarian composer Béla Bartók.
Joined onstage by faculty pianist Sheng-Yuan Kuan, Miranda introduces and then performs the first movement of the 1938 Concerto, written just before Bartók fled his native Hungary for America. In her introduction, Miranda demonstrates three of the characteristic violinistic techniques the Hungarian composer deploys throughout the movement: glissandi, ponticello, and quarter-tones. We’re in concert at First Presbyterian Church in Staunton, VA.