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Martinu - Cello Concerto N1 H.196

Martinu - Cello Concerto. You can download the PDF sheet music Martinu - Cello Concerto N1 H.196 on this page. Originally conceived as a chamber concerto with allusions to the concerto grosso genre, this work – over the course of its revisions – turned into a genuine symphonic work with solo instrument. Composed in 1930, it was premièred in Berlin in 1931. A second version, the score of which is now lost, was completed in Paris in 1939. But Martinů was later to judge this version harshly: ‘My mind was elsewhere when I reorchestrated it, owing to very difficult circumstances’. In 1955, after hearing it on the radio and having been ‘shocked’ by his own ‘poor orchestration’, he made the definitive version of the concerto. Dedicated to the cellist Pierre Fournier, this version was finally premièred by Fournier in 1955, with the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra.

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Instrument part: 11 pages. 627 K


Piano part: 26 pages. 1521 K


Martinu - Cello Concerto - Instrument part - first page Martinu - Cello Concerto - Piano part - first page
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During Martinů's stay in France he started to take an interest in the concerto grosso, a form that fitted in well with his own formal and sonic ideals of simplicity, clarity and precision (‘chamber music in a symphonic context’). And so it was the formal, dynamic and emotional restraint that he found in the concerto grosso that he had in mind when he started work on a cello concerto – his first important work in this genre – and, nowadays, one of his most popular works.

V.Desarzens, the conductor, wrote about the third version of the concerto – from which he omitted the parts for tuba and piano – ‘I have lightened up the trombone and horn chords, and reorchestrated the concerto without changing too many notes; the solo part is virtually unaltered, perhaps a little easier in this new version.’ On the other hand, not a single bar of the orchestral part of the first version was retained unaltered in the third and final version. Like most of his compositions from the early 1930s, the First Cello Concerto is rhythmically and formally free. The first movement, a brusque and energetic Allegro moderato, opens brilliantly on the trumpet.

In the expression of this unalloyed joy, the cellist plays almost without a break, and there are several brief cadenzas. In this movement we also hear the unique sound that arises from a combination of Czech folklore and French sonorities. The Andante moderato is the longest of the three movements, and is influenced by Moravian folk music. This slow meditation, full of inner feeling, accentuates the impression of space and of nostalgic sweetness, emphasized by the great cadenza. The orchestral reprise has a gripping power. This is undeniably one of the most successful and most inspired movements in Martinů’s entire output. The idiomatic turns of phrase of Czech music return in the finale, Allegro, recalling Dvořák and Janáček. The brilliance arises from virtuoso exchanges between the soloist and the orchestra, and from the presence of stylized dances. In the middle of the movement, a cadenza in quasi-baroque style – almost calling Bach to mindinterrupts this seemingly inextinguishable energy with profound emotion.

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