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Concerto for flute, violin and orchestra, H252
October 1936; commissioned by Marcel Moyse; first performed by Marcel Moyse, Blanche Honnegger Moyse, Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire under Philippe Gaubert on 27 December 1936

'Martinů: Complete music for violin & orchestra, Vol. 1' (CDA67671)
Martinů: Complete music for violin & orchestra, Vol. 1
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67671 
Movement 1: Allegro moderato
Movement 2: Adagio
Movement 3: Poco allegretto

Concerto for flute, violin and orchestra, H252
Martinu composed his Concerto for flute, violin, and orchestra H252 in October 1936. He was already an established composer, and he wrote it in just ten days on commission from the French flautist Marcel Moyse, probably the most celebrated flute player of his time (after World War II Moyse moved to the United States and founded, together with Adolf and Hermann Busch and Rudolf Serkin, the Marlboro Music Festival). The part of the violin was conceived for Blanche Honegger Moyse (b 1909), a Swiss violinist who studied in Geneva and in Paris with Adolf Busch and Georges Enesco. She married Marcel’s son Louis Moyse, an accomplished flautist and pianist. It was for the Moyse trio—consisting of Marcel, Blanche and Louis—that Martinu wrote his Sonata for flute, violin and piano H254 (1937) as well as Promenades for flute, violin and harpsichord H274 (1939). (In October 2006 Blanche donated the autograph score of the Concerto for flute, violin and orchestra to the Martinu Institute in Prague, and Louis did the same with the autograph score of Promenades.)

While composing the Concerto for flute, violin and orchestra, Martinu interrupted the work on his main work of this period, the opera Juliette. According to the composer’s letter to his family in Policka the concerto was planned to be premiered ‘on the radio in London at the end of October’. It is therefore quite surprising that he finished his concerto only in October. Martinu probably put his trust in the virtuosity of both soloists, whom he knew well personally—he spent Christmas Eve 1936 with the Moyse family. The concerto was in fact first performed three days later on 27 December 1936 by Marcel Moyse and Blanche Honegger Moyse with the Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire under Philippe Gaubert (the former teacher of Marcel Moyse at the Paris Conservatoire). Its first performance was broadcast live on radio and was soon followed by performances in other important cities such as London and Geneva.

This three-movement work follows the Classical layout of fast–slow–fast. The piano plays an important role in the instrumentation of the concerto, enriching the colour of the orchestra. In the first movement, Allegro moderato, a fast cadenza successively introduces the solo instruments, starting with the flute. The second movement, Adagio, is rich in expression, offering lyrical melodies presented alternately and jointly by the two solo instruments. A lyrical violin cadenza prepares the final section of the second movement which culminates with an expressive counterpoint of the two solo instruments with the string section. The final movement, Poco allegretto, has the layout of a three-part song-form whose central cantilena section leads after a flute cadenza to a repetition of the first part. The ensuing fast coda intensifies the build-up to the culmination of the movement, and thus of the whole work.

from notes by Aleš Brezina © 2007

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Details for CDA67671 track 2
Recording date
3 December 2005
Recording venue
Dvorák Hall, Rudolfinum, Prague, Czechoslovakia
Recording producer
Zdenek Zahradník
Recording engineer
Tomáš Zikmund
Hyperion usage
  1. Martinu: Complete music for violin & orchestra, Vol. 1 (CDA67671)
    Disc 1 Track 2
    Release date: October 2007
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