Bartók: Contrasts for Clarinet, Violin & Piano (Mvt III)





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Uploaded on Oct 13, 2007

Yehudi Menuhin (violin) and Jeremy Menuhin with Thea King, clarinet.

Bartók: Contrasts for Clarinet, Violin & Piano, Sz. 111

III. Fast Dance. Allegro vivace

go here to see the first two movements:

Filmed at the ORTF, Paris, 03/12/72

by Eric Tishkoff:

The final movement, Sebes (fast dance), is a frenzied dash, whose only detour is an off-balance, but still quick-moving section in the uncommon meter (8 + 5) / 8. The beginning of the final movement calls for the use of a violin with several of its strings tuned differently (scordatura). This yields a courser, rougher sound that suggests the playing of a folk musician. The clarinet part requires the use of both B-flat and A clarinets, which is done to more easily facilitate technical passages in different key signatures. While the first movement is scored for A clarinet, some players prefer to play it on B-flat clarinet. The transposition makes certain technical passages easier to play. However, there are several low Es in the movement, which the B-flat clarinet can't play, thus the transposition is somewhat problematic musically.


All three instrumental parts of Contrasts are extremely demanding from the standpoints of technique and ensemble. Compounding the unusual scales and intervals in many of the fast passages are complex rhythms within the individual parts, and almost constant rhythmic counterpoint, or cross-rhythms, between the parts. Thus, the most technically difficult passages also turn out to be the most treacherous in terms of playing together. A combination of individual preparation and rehearsal methods can be used to work out such sections.

The most important method for solving or preventing ensemble issues is to know the other parts well. While most chamber music is such that the other parts can be easily learned while rehearsing, Contrasts is more problematic...

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