The third cello sonata occupies ground somewhere between that of the concerto and the symphony. Its form is fluid. Strict Classical forms never adapted readily to Martinuís compositional processes and he rarely paid more than lip-service to them. The looser process of constant evolution, his version of Ďfantasiaí, was more congenial, and these years were devoted to its consolidation into a compositional method.
Of all of Martinuís chamber works for cello, the third sonata has established itself most firmly in the affections of performing artists and is consequently the most familiar to the general public. It satisfies the demands of the two players more completely than its companions, but its secret is perhaps that, of the three, it is the most personal yet most obviously Czech in spirit, particularly in the cast of its melodies. It is dedicated to the memory of an old friend, Hans Kindler, to whom seven years previously Martinu had dedicated his orchestral scherzo Thunderbolt Ė P47. It had its premiere in Washington towards the end of 1952.
This sonata was not Martinuís epitaph for the cello, however. His very last instrumental composition was another duo for cello and piano, again profoundly Czech in spirit. The Variations on a Slovak folk melody, written at Paul Sacherís house, occupied him from 14 to 20 March 1959. Fittingly they were given their first performance in Prague in October that year by an old friend, Sasa Vectomov, since when they have become a kind of valediction to their composer, a man of great gifts and wide experience, personally shy and unpretentious. But, above all, Czech.
from notes by Kenneth Dommett © 1989