Movement 1: Poco allegro
Movement 2: Andante
Movement 3: Allegretto
Written for string quartet with double bass, flute, clarinet, oboe, horn and bassoon, it is dedicated to the Czech Nonet who gave the first performance at the Salzburg Festival on 27 July 1959. It artfully embodies in its three movements the two themes which occupy so much of the chamber music of Martinuº’s last years, namely nostalgia for his Czech homeland (which he had not seen since before the War) and the Classical style of Haydn (with whose work he had become enamoured during his last years of exile in America).
Never much drawn to Classical forms or unduly respectful of the great masters, Martinu nevertheless contrived to make this Nonet into a testament of these two ideals. All three movements are redolent of the kind of music played by country musicians in Bohemia and Moravia, but the first especially, with its crisp Haydnesque themes, clarity of texture and clever use of counterpoint, reveals the composer’s selective and highly individual response to the past. It holds together perfectly, serenely confident, sunny even, in its affirmation of life.
from notes by Kenneth Dommett & Robert Matthew-Walker © 1998