The Bartók Viola Concerto is so rhapsodic, especially in the first movement. At the beginning, it starts sort of like a cadenza, with only a few pizzicati in the cello as an accompaniment, and then the viola gets into a rage and there’s one little jumping down-scale that’s quite fast and has quite a big impact. It’s like an entire concerto in miniature is already there at the beginning.

Nils Mönkemeyer Nils Mönkemeyer. Photo © Irène Zandel Kopie

My memory of the first time I ever played it is very clear. It was at an afternoon class concert in Hannover, I was 18 and my little sister was three. She was there with my mother – actually she was sitting on her lap – and my mother had a microphone with her to record the performance. During the first movement my little sister laughed and whispered to my mum, “Nils has just played very fast,” and you can hear all of this on the recording. It’s so sweet and also very interesting that she had this instinctive reaction to the music. Now every time I play this scale going down, I have...

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