Piano Concerto No. 2 (Bartók)

Béla Bartók's Piano Concerto No. 2 in G major, Sz 95, BB 101 ( 1930-1931 ), is regarded as one of the most difficult works of the piano literature. Although Bartók completed the composition of the second concert in October 1931, it was only on January 23, 1933 in Frankfurt am Main under the baton of Hans Rosbaud premiered Bartók as a soloist - a remarkable event, as this was Bartok's last appearance in Germany, the soon became completely dominated by the Nazis.

Musically the work in the tradition of neo-classicism. The influence of Stravinsky is noticeable especially in instrumentation for the first set and is reminiscent of Petrushka. Bartók's Second Piano Concerto is rhythmically accentuated so refined that it is also listeners of other genres opens up.


Bartók had already had to recognize in his first piano concerto that it was " a little difficult - one might even say, very difficult! - For both the orchestra and the audience " was. This problem he tried to meet in the second piano concerto; as he writes in the program of the first performance, is the second piano concerto designed " with less difficulty for the orchestra and a greater complacency in his thematic material." Since Bartók wrote most of his piano music for his own use as a soloist in Europe and the United States, it seems natural that he wanted to reach a wider audience with his work.

Despite all the rhythmic finesse counterpoint used but also makes the second piano concerto to a challenging work.


Bartók's Piano Concerto No. 2 follows the classic three-movement form. The shape of the second concerto is symmetrical, the tempos are fast - slow - fast - slow - fast. The first movement (Allegro), follows the sonata form and begins with a piano solo. A trumpet blares a quote from Stravinsky's ballet The Firebird in between, which will be one of the two main themes. This gives a slightly humorous character of the pack. Bartók waived in the first set entirely on the strings, so that the wind and percussion engage in a dialogue with the piano.

I. Allegro

The piano is accompanied only by wind and percussion instruments. Thus, the energy and the coarseness of the sound be increased, while the brass, which are concentrated polyphonic, play an important role.

The development of the first movement does not adhere to the schema of the classical sonata form, but rather forms an uninterrupted motivic evolution of the main theme. In a sense, reminiscent of the concertos for keyboard instrument and orchestra by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Launched at the beginning of the trumpet theme is relatively simple and to the point, it is an incomplete diatonic with pentatonic steps based. The rhythmic and tonal shape of this topic takes the whole character of the first movement and its clear, cheerful coloring anticipated. Then the piano responds with a phrase in the rhythm of Verbunkos, Hungarian dances, she is also mostly diatonic. The pianistic style of delivery is determined by the densely saturated, but logical in the course of harmony with underlying tones and second steps.

II Adagio - Presto - Adagio

The general character of the second set is similar to the second of the 4th String Quartet Bartók. Also in this play both the sound and the movement an important role. Melodic motives occur hardly. Again and again, keep the chromatic runs both hands on in the repetition of the same sound, what their tone changes. At the beginning they run in parallel octaves, later in two layers of parallel progresses large second and then in parallel sixths, large and small. The character of the movement is completed by chromatic effects of the staccato brass and timpani rolls.

There the strings are first introduced that begin to lead a dialogue with piano and percussion instruments. The sections of the strings are based on two layers of parallel fifths chords, together they make frequent sounds that also come from the bottom row. These chords are the basis for the diatonic melody that includes whole-tone and chromatic steps. These sections of the strings is facing serious melody of the piano accompaniment with drums. At the beginning extend beyond just the last notes of phrases about the diatonic, the case suddenly form tonal twists, later the whole phrase of the chromaticism is encompassed and the scale is filled with half- tones. The second entry of the piano then an ascending phase, the bells sounding in similar repetitions of octaves reached the escalation.

In the Adagio, the piano is accompanied mainly by gently flowing string sounds. In the middle part of this sentence Bartók used in the piano part and cluster ( " tone clusters ", as Henry Cowell ( 1897-1965 ) introduced ), which gives the Presto a mysterious, ghostly character. Bartók himself called this section " as a built in an Adagio Scherzo ".

III. Allegro molto

The last movement of the concerto - he is energetic and very brilliantly - is, according to Bartók a "Rondo, with only the implementation follows the Rondo pattern ". Passages manner takes the sentence anticipate the resulting 1943 Concerto for Orchestra. The theme, which is played on the piano with both hands in the octave is marked rhythmically sharp and moves consisting in a section of three notes of the diatonic scale. Then it suddenly turned to opposite poles distant sounds. After repeated twice in a converted form of this theme is heard again a melody from the first movement, which this time is played in octaves and in triplet rhythm. The recurring theme of the finale is a developed diatonic melody, it is the scale '' bc- of - it - fes -g -a '' basis. The conclusion of the final course is similar to the first set.

Discography, some shots