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Bohuslav Martinů

Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)

Nationality: Czech | Bohemian
Born: December 8, 1890, Polička, Bohemia Died: August 28, 1959, Liestal, Switzerland (age 68)

Bergerettes for Piano Trio, H. 275

(for violin, cello and piano)
4:10 I. Poco allegro
3:58 II. Allegro con brio
4:34 III. Andantino
2:29 IV. Allegro
5:57 V. Moderato
Duration: 20 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1939 (age 48-49)
4 recordings, 17 videos
autoopen autoplay
4:14
Philadelphia Trio
I. Poco allegro
4:13
Philadelphia Trio
II. Allegro con brio
4:16
Philadelphia Trio
III. Andantino
2:28
Philadelphia Trio
IV. Allegro
5:52
Philadelphia Trio
V. Moderato
4:13
Puella Trio
I. Poco allegro
4:05
Puella Trio
II. Allegro con brio
4:58
Puella Trio
III. Andantino
2:26
Puella Trio
IV. Allegro
6:16
Puella Trio
V. Moderato
4:14
ArteMiss Trio
I. Poco allegro
3:55
ArteMiss Trio
II. Allegro con brio
4:28
ArteMiss Trio
III. Andantino
2:32
ArteMiss Trio
IV. Allegro
5:43
ArteMiss Trio
V. Moderato
3:59
Foerster Trio
I. Poco allegro
3:38
Foerster Trio
II. Allegro con brio
From Kai Christiansen

Bohuslav Martinů 1890-1950

Bergerettes for violin, cello and piano, 1939
Bohuslav MartinůA short list of first-rank important Czech composers would include, in chronological order, Smetana, Dvořák, Janacek and Martinů. Bohuslav Martinů was an extraordinarily prolific composer across a full range of musical genres including dramatic music for stage and film with at least fifteen operas, several orchestral concerti and symphonies as well as choral music. A substantial catalog of chamber music for a variety of ensembles totals nearly one hundred works. While his mature music lies entirely within the 20th century, Martinů developed a fresh, personal style that is predominantly tonal and accessible, largely independent of the numerous schools, trends and "isms" that characterize the multi-faceted landscape of modern music through the mid-century. In additional to several duo sonatas, divertimenti, serenades and character pieces, his chamber oeuvre includes seven string quartets, numerous quintets and three piano trios.

Martinů was born in 1890 in the small market town of Polička just on the Bohemian side of the Bohemian-Moravian border. As a youth, he quickly distinguished himself as a violinist, a role he would play as recital soloist, leader of a local string quartet and eventually an occasional second violinist in the Prague Symphony Orchestra. In 1923 at the age of thirty-three, Martinů relocated to Paris where he became thoroughly familiar with the modern currents of musical innovation that made that city a leading light of the avant-garde in the early 20th century. He was particularly influenced by Debussy, Stravinsky, Jazz and the neo-classicism of period. By the mid 1930's, Martinů became a prolific composer with a distinctive style and a growing international reputation. With the escalating Nazi incursion, Martinů left France, immigrating to the United States where he spent years in New York teaching at Princeton and the Mannes School of music. In the early 50's, Martinů became an American citizen, but soon moved yet again, first to Rome then to Switzerland for his final years.

Bohuslav MartinůMartinů wrote the Bergerettes for piano, violin and cello in 1939 while in Paris. It comprises five pieces, each in a ternary A-B-A form with a central contrast much in the manner of a scherzo. Indeed, most of the pieces have a scherzando character defined by a vigorous, dance-inspired outer section relaxing into a lyrical trio in the middle and a da capo repeat. The vibrant outer rhythms are driven by fast tempi and mesmerizing ostinati that evoke, by turns, the muscular momentum of the early neo-classical period, the virile folk dances of Eastern Europe and perhaps just a touch of minimalism. Each of the five miniatures share a similar nature and form but, by virtue of juxtaposition within a series, become distinguished by nuance revealing a range of subtle diversity somewhat analogous to that found in such historic sets as Bartók's 44 Duos for Violins or Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. The third piece contrasts with the others in tempo and character creating a kind of super-structure: it is the inner meta-trio to the surrounding scherzi formed by the outer pairs. The term "Bergerette" is somewhat mysterious. Historically, it had been used to denote 15th century French poetry, 16th century dance of a lively nature (especially in a triple meter) and 18th century pastoral song with an amorous bent. Given their uniform sectional design with scherzo and lyrical trio, it would seem that Martinů had the latter two definitions in mind if not simply a desire to evoke a French poetic spirit.

© Kai Christiansen and Music at Kohl Mansion. All rights reserved.

© Kai Christiansen Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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