Rhapsody-Concerto for viola and piano by Bohuslav Martinu
Edited by Jurgen Sommer. Published by Barenreiter
Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959) was a prolific and noted Czech composer of the 20th century. Like Dvorak and Janacek before him, a certain Czech spirit is prominent in his music. Early studies in France exposed him to the music of Debussy, Stravinsky, and jazz; his music later took on neo-classical qualities after his move to the United States, where he was associated with the Boston Symphony and Tanglewood. His writing is characterized by piquant harmony, kinetic, driving passages, and glittering color. He made important contributions to virtually all genres, including symphonies, concertos, and extensive chamber music.
Martinu's Rhapsody-Concerto (1952) is one of the major viola concertos in the 20th-century classical repertory, though it isn't as well-known as those by Bartok or Walton. Though its title conveys a sense of looseness of form, it is in fact thoughtfully crafted and worked out. It is cast in two movements, though works as a unified whole. Like the composer's sixth symphony, it is filled with imaginative thematic transformation, as well as the buoyant harmonies and glittering textures his music is known for. Master level, grade 6.