Movement 1: Allegro
Movement 2: Andante
Movement 3: Allegretto
Movement 4: Poco allegro
The first movement is in the simplest ABA form, with a tiny coda tacked on. The violins keep at their quaver pulses virtually throughout, the music the most neo-Classical in spirit of the four. The second movement, in C minor, explores the instrumentation more questioningly with two-part writing for each violin (producing a four-part texture) answered by a gentle folk-idea in distant piano octaves—this constitutes the first part of another plain ABA design; soft-spanned G major chords against rising violin answers form the central section, with a reminiscent recapitulation of the opening part bringing the movement to a close in C major, the piano’s octave Bs as the leading note, but falling in fact to B flat for the vivacious Allegretto and Trio in 3/4 with each beat itself made up of triplets, producing a whirling 9/8 effect. The Trio is incredibly delicate and fragile before the Allegretto returns as before.
The finale, likewise, barely pauses for breath on its heady journey. The character of the music is more sturdy, more ‘Bach-like’ perhaps, and in this movement one can sense Martinu’s growing sense of delight in his fascinating medium, so much so that one can hardly envisage the music being conceived for any other ensemble. A marvellous piece—the final D leaving us wanting more, surprised that it is already the end. By the spring of 1932 Martinu had returned to the medium, producing an important Sonata for two violins and piano; and in 1937 and 1950 he wrote two Concertos for two violins and orchestra.
from notes by Kenneth Dommett & Robert Matthew-Walker © 1998