Friday, June 18, 2010

A small room above a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

Across from the bed, a brick-and-board shelf. On the top shelf is a hot plate, and on top of that, a pot. A soup made from scratch simmers inside. A cup stands ready, itching to be filled.

There is music from across the hall. The Allegro from Bartok's Violin Concerto No. 2 (1939). Or is it the Allegro from Barber's Violin Concerto, Op. 14 (1939)? (Barber was in Europe just before the outbreak of the Second World War. He might have heard Bartok's concerto while composing his own.) No, it's Bartok.

According to Malcolm Gillies's Bartok Remembered (1990), Bartok wanted to prove to Schoenberg that he could "use all twelve tones and still remain tonal" (something Barber would never do). Bartok attempted this in the Allegro's second theme.

I enjoy both Allegros, for different reasons, and have listened to them often. So often, in fact, that I sometimes I can't tell them apart. How does that happen?

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