dedicated his whole life to preserving the oldest musical
traditions of Hungary, ended his life as an exile in America.
Forced to flee Europe in 1939 this work was written at the time of
great sorrow shortly before he left. The work is scored for five
soloists and the orchestra, reminiscent of Concerto Grosso with
soli and ripieno.
The work begins with
drive using imaginative folk rhythms, which lie below the first
melody. It is not long before soloists intervene leading to the
first tranquillo section. The first violins return at intervals
with their melody in between crashing fortissimo chords which are
often followed by a highly dramatic pianissimo. A final tranquillo
section with the soloists leads to a final passionate outburst,
which is unmistakably Hungarian with its direct link to the
Hungarian language's stress on the first syllable of a word.
Chromatic movement introduces the haunting melody in the second
violins. The theme is taken over by the first violins, which
gradually leads to the viola's passionate Hungarian folksong taken
up by in turn by other instruments. A taut and powerful section
with crying violins creates enormous tension before dying away to
a solo quartet. After a final passionate section the movement dies
away until one is suddenly roused by a final fierce scream from
violins, surely summing up as the movement ends, all the suffering
and anguish that war causes.
The third movement is
pure and joyful folk music with lively exchanges between soloists
and orchestra. After a double fugato in unison is answered by
various instruments, the same procedure takes place before two
free solos from the cello and violin romantically sing out the
latter in true gypsy style. As the movement continues with great
energy there is a parody of a polka before the movement draws to a
© Lygia O'Riordan