I. Praeludium: Vivacissimo luminoso – attacca:
II. Aria, Hoquetus, Choral: Andante con moto – attacca
III. Intermezzo: Presto fluido
IV. Passacaglia: Lento intenso
V. Appassionato: Agitato molto
Christian Tetzlaff (violin), François Xavier Roth conducting the Gürzenich Orchester Köln.
Stephen Johnson calls the concerto as "a kind of cornucopia of effects and techniques, a wild collage of atmospheres and colors." Among other effects, it uses "microtonality, rapidly changing textures, comic juxtapositions... Hungarian folk melodies, Bulgarian dance rhythms, references to medieval and Renaissance music and solo violin writing that ranges from the slow-paced and sweet-toned to the angular and fiery." During this time, Ligeti was interested in alternate tuning systems and harmonics. Thus, one violin and one viola in the orchestra tune their strings to the natural harmonics of the bass player.
The second movement can be loosely described as a set of variations adapted from the third of his Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet (an arrangement of the seventh piece from Musica ricercata) but slowed down and nearly two octaves lower.