Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bohuslav Martinů – Symphony No. 4, Sonata for Flute and Piano

Bohuslav Martinů is a composer of 6 symphonies, which he became to create in his fifties. Five of his six symphonies come into being in the time of composer’s exile during 2nd world war and in first years after the war – First in 1942 to Fifth in 1946. There is no doubt, this set is crowning of Martinů’s neoclassical period. Last symphony, Sixth, written 1953 and premiered in 1955, was titled Symfonické fantazie (Symphonic Fantasies) and its construction was rather free fantasy than typical symphonic form. The most  popular, clear in its idea and fresh in formal invention is Symphony No 4. This work is exceptional for its positive impact – Martinů completed his Fourth the 14th day of June, 1945.
This was most joyous time in whole history of his wartime exile. Nazi Germany were defeated, war was almost ended and his professional life was on the best way to success. Unsure how the future will look like, as many exiles, he was enthusiastic about upcoming months. This spirit predominate in the whole composition. Scherzo is the second part (Allegro vivo) and it is stormy hence intensive in emotional pressure. The dreamy trio makes impression of outward parts more catchy. Largo is masterpiece of dramatically marked stopping of narration. After the moment of reflection, final Poco allegro gives listener diverse communication content.
Next day after finishing his 4th Symphony, on June 15th 1945 Martinů begin to compose Sonata for flute and piano, one of most popular Sonatas in XX-century music. During spring of 1945 Bohuslav Martinů and his wife Charlotte were living in South Orleans on Cape Cod. One day they found in the garden injured bird. The bird appeared to be whippoorwill and after Martinů took care, cure, feed and thought him to fly, the bird stayed in the garden and was singing before the composers windows. This melody taken from the whippoorwill has been quoted by composer in his Flute Sonata.

Bohuslav Martinů – IV Symphony, Flute Sonata (1979)

These two compositions were recorded and published in 1979 (Panton 8110 0023) – Symphony No. 4 performed by Prague Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Jiři Bělohlávek and Sonata for Flute and Piano played by flutist Jiři Válek and pianist Josef Hála. On the cover editors used fragment of picturesque vision of The Desert painted by Alén Diviš who was close friends with Martinů when they were living in Paris before the war and later in New York. Friendship between artists is always important but that doesn’t mean their works are enough close to put them together. For two joyous and hopeful compositions set together on one record, probably any other picture would be more relevant than waste desert land. It's clear, this is a kind of cognitive counterpoint to show how deserted was the European continent in 1945. And there are indications some shadows of  this war will survive even our grief.

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