MENDELSSOHN’S VIOLIN CONCERTO

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The music in me...

Fast. The tempo says adagio, slow, but I know that the quavers in this piece, quarters of a crotchet, are veritably fast. Closing my eyes, I start my journey, beginning at the bottom of the mountain, towering high above me. I take the first step, and a violin begins with a single held note, quickly rippling into a run that grows in a recurring pattern, higher and higher. I turn round the bend in the path as the melody pauses, then introduces an accompanying piano. A lilting tune manifests, lower bass notes harmonising with right hand chords that give way to a descent of tones and semitones, like the way the path dips downwards, pausing as the melody slows, before gently sloping upwards again. The violin enters again, the melody following the piano, but digressing sometimes, in a sweet harmony that matches the beautiful greenery around me. The tempo slows even more, then picks up, before the path turns sharply and the composition moves on to a new section. The rhythm picks up, like a playful puppy, short staccato notes contrasting with the right hand piano part. The heavy bass notes of the piano continue in its own solo. And then the violin returns; it becomes sweeter and softer and slower, long chords intertwined with delicate trills, a deep velvety richness soaking into my senses. The melody changes yet again, reaching ever higher; the piano follows with several smooth, legato runs, much like how the path is now. The key changes to a minor one, and the music becomes darker, sadder, and moody. Just like how the sun has been clouded, its glorious rays no longer kissing my sweaty skin. The key changes once more, the piano begins a new solo, like how I’ve moved away from the crowd, and the melody continues its original theme as the path continues, before gently dying away, smorzando.

 

Rather slowly.  Poco adagio. I blink, and the piano begins, full of slow notes, interspersed with a couple of turns, before descending in a run to indicate the violin’s entry. The strains of this tune take me away as I slow my pace a little, knowing this is my chance to recover. The sustained notes bring me into a world of intimacy and soulfulness, and I let myself relax slightly. As the piano begins a long run of incredibly fast notes, I make out a runner catching up to me, but I breathe easier when I recognise him and know he’s unable to overtake me from past experience. The music becomes dancelike and more expressive, espressivo. I hear a trill and think of a gentleman spinning his partner, the couple dancing in a familiar ode to each other that somehow still feels like the very first time. They glide across the floor, two hands wrapped in each other, another hand on his shoulder, one on her waist. A whirling dance this is, gracefully waltzing, smoothly flowing, and deliberately turning. Then the piano becomes heavier, the violin more abrupt, and I imagine the passion, the fire, the sensuality, between the couple. The rhythm changes; the melody contains more chromatic runs. There’s more free will, the violin and the piano in an argumentative mode, giving, taking, compromising. I wonder as the couple speaks through the tune, as they fight, as they tease, as they gaze softly at each other. The atmosphere is charged with emotion, sparked with feelings, matched with heat. Then it slows, before the violin takes a breath and reaches a shrill high pitch. The music changes again, full of honest suspension and exuberant tonality. The violin repeats itself; the piano greets it with a contrapuntal sequence. The violin slows and fades away, the piano slows and grows softer; a final chord enters and dies away. Like the way my motivation saps as I realise I still have the steepest section to finish when my attention snaps back from my fantasies. The melody has gradually become softer, diminuendo.

 

Merry and bright, and in an agitated manner. Allegro agitato. The piano again precedes the violin, opening to it a world of quick staccato notes. The melody is lively, a clear contrast to the previous ones. An easy temperament this one has, repeating itself as, revitalised, I resume a harder pace. I no longer think of this seemingly insurmountable mountain as a battle; rather, I perceive it to be a metaphor for the paths of life, sometimes harsh like the minor harmonics of the music, sometimes pleasing like the major intonations of the music. While the piano is full of broken chords like before, somehow they are less smooth, and the pianist’s touch less gentle. Happier, joyous, and blissful, the song continues, just as the sun joins me again. Up and down the violin goes, like the path does. The melodies repeat themselves with minute differences that make them more interesting each time, just as the scenery does. The key changes to the relative minor, and the piece becomes more passive and ponderous; the piano dies away with a tranquil attitude, più tranquillo. The masterpiece of the solo violin passage, the cadenza, shows the prima donna’s greatest abilities, her ad lib manner, her outpouring of musicality, her euphonious bowing. And suddenly, the piano returns, fortissimo. The low-lying bass notes give a sense of anger, of betrayal, of intensity, absent from the sweet, dolce, consonance of the violin just moments ago. The violin returns to its very first theme, varied a little, and therefore so much more poignant, dramatic and heartfelt. My soul soars with the music in me. The piano reaches its highest point of all the movements, precipitating its own fall to the lowest octaves, as the violin screeches to its highest octaves in a melodramatic herald to the soft, almost unheard, final two notes. And Mendelssohn’s violin concerto ends, just as I cross the finishing line of this race at the crest of the mountain, fine.

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