Music for String Instruments, Percussion, and Celesta

      This work by Bartok starts with viola stating the subject of the fugue. The subject starts on "A” and is a chromatic melody. The 3rd. and 4th violin play the 2nd statement of the subject in "E" and viola plays the counter-subject. The Cellos play the subject next, except they do not go back to “A”(in Baroque fugue the third statement goes back to tonic) instead they go to “D”) Then the 2nd violins come with the 4th statement in “B.” The basses play the 5th statement of the subject in “G”. When this statement is finished it ends the first subsection. Also here is the inverse (.382) of the Golden Mean in first subsection.
      A development section starts here using fugal effects like echo. Measure 27 the subject is in the first violin; then three beats later it is stated in the basses and cellos a tri-tone away. Then in measure 34 the first percussive instrument is introduce, the timpani. This also is the Golden Mean (.618) of the subsection and inverse of Golden Mean of the over all work.
      The next subsection uses fragmentation of the subject and sequence. Then 56 this work reaches its climax on a unison "E flat.” This point is a tri-tone away from the opening note, also it is the over all Golden Mean (.618). From this point the work starts come back down. At measure 65 the subject is inverted and fragment throughout the strings. In measure 69 the inverse (.382) of the Golden mean of the 2nd subsection starts with the fugue's recapitulation, only it is inverted and the counter-subject is immediately stated.
      In measure 78 the celesta also it is the Golden Mean Of the 2nd subsection. At this point it because sparse; one part playing subject (that is different rhythm) and one counter-subject; the other instruments are just playing effects. At measure 82 only one instruments plays the subject in fragments and inversion. Measure 86 the 1st and 2nd violin play in contrary motion until they end unison on "A".
      The reason I think that this piece works so well is it is just bunch of big effects. The fugue adding one group at a time to build. Staying in the same mode helped the unity of the work. Using melody, and harmonies that are chromatic and winding to hide a sense of harmonic relation. Adding instruments on the "Mean” to help build. At the climax playing the unison "E flat" to relieve the tension of tri-tone and close dissonance harmonies. Then play the fugue inverted in closing of the piece. Then less moving parts to make it seem, small and slower. Then ending on the unison "A" to resolve all tension and to bring full circle back to the beginning. These effects are why the piece has such a strong impact on you.

Copyrighted by Michael Cooke, 2003.