Hyperion Records

Concerto da camera, H285
July 1941; violin, string orch, piano & percussion; commissioned by and dedicated to Paul Sacher & Basel Chamber Orchestra; first performed by them & Gertrud Flügel (violin) in Basel on 23/1/1942; vln part subsequently slightly simplified (as rec. here)

'Martinů: Complete music for violin & orchestra, Vol. 2' (CDA67672)
Martinů: Complete music for violin & orchestra, Vol. 2
Movement 1: Moderato, poco allegro
Movement 2: Adagio
Movement 3: Poco allegro

Concerto da camera, H285
In the Concerto da camera Martinu returned once more to his favourite concerto grosso form, which allowed him to avoid the thematic dualism of sonata form and to concentrate on the constant evolution of small musical cells. The first movement, Moderato, poco allegro, is in variation form, with spicy harmonies that are quite often polytonal. The orchestral writing is transparent and clear with only spare use of the timpani. The second movement, Adagio, is reminiscent of a baroque aria, characterized by the highly dense polyphonic writing for the string orchestra. It anticipates Martinu’s development towards emotional warmth and a Dvorák-like cantabile quality. The piano part, with its long rhythmical values, constitutes a sort of cantus firmus under the rich figurative work of the orchestra and the solo violin. The third movement, Poco allegro, is a rondo with a melodically and rhythmically distinct motif related to that of the first movement. The orchestra is given added colour by cymbals and a triangle. Martinu again combines elements of concerto grosso with lyrical cantilena close to the expressive world of Dvorák.

The premiere of Concerto da camera took place on 23 January 1942 in Basel with Gertrud Flügel and the Basel Chamber Orchestra under Paul Sacher. Three days later Sacher telegrammed to Martinu: ‘Violin concerto accepted with enthusiasm we all thank you.’ Because of the freshness of its musical invention, the sensual sound of the orchestral part and the virtuosity of the solo parts, the Concerto da camera is a favourite among Martinu’s instrumental concertos; it provides delight to both performers and listeners.

It was unknown until recently that Martinu later slightly simplified the solo violin part, probably as a result of suggestions from the American violinist Louis Kaufman, who describes it in his memoirs A Fiddler’s Tale. This version of the concerto was published by Universal Edition in Vienna, and is recorded here.

from notes by Aleš Brezina © 2008

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