General information
Title CZSonata da camera
Subtitle CZpro violoncello a malý orchestr
Title ENSonata da Camera
Subtitle ENfor violoncello and small orchestra
Title DESonata da camera
Subtitle DEfür Cello und kleines Orchester
Title FRSonata da camera [auth.]
Subtitle FRpour violoncelle et petit orchestre
SubcategoryVioloncello Concertos
Halbreich number283
Parts of the composition (movements)1. Poco allegro; 2. Andante poco moderato; 3. Allegro
Durata26' 30''
Instruments1122-2000-Archi (10/12Vl, 4Vle, 4Vc, 2Cb)
Solo voiceVc
Dedicatee Honegger, Henri
Diplomatic transcription of the dedicationà Henri Honegger | avec mon amitié la plus sincère
Place of compositionAix-en-Provence
Year of origin1940
Initiation of composition11/1940
Completion of composition30.12.1940
First performance
Performer Ansermet, Ernest
Honegger, Henri
Date of the first performance25.11.1943
Location of the first performanceGeneva, Switzerland
Note on the first performanceHenri Honegger, Ernest Ansermet (conductor)
Ensemble Orchestre de la Suisse Romande,
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Autograph deposition
InstitutionBohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička
OwnerNadace Bohuslava Martinů
CopyrightBärenreiter, Kassel
Purchase linkbuy
References Related writings
Documents in the Library
Note Title on the title page of the autograph score: "Sonata da camera | pour violoncelle solo et | petit orchestre".
About the composition

Sonata da camera, H 283 was written after completion of the first revision of the First Cello Concerto H 196 I, and shortly after the Sinfonietta giocosa, H 282, at the very end of 1940. At this time Martinů was living in Aix-en-Provence, France, which became the last island of relative peace for him before he set out with his wife Charlotte on the difficult journey via Marseille and Lisbon to the United States. He took the title of the work from the designation of the musical genre of a secular instrumental sonata cultivated in the seventeenth century. A typical representative of this type of composition was Arcangelo Corelli, whose scores Martinů greatly admired and which served as study material for him. Inspiration by Baroque music is clear in the sixteenth-note figurations as best shown by the theme at the opening of the third movement, in the alternation of the solo part with the orchestra in some parts of the same movement, and not least in the use of the orchestra as accompanimental continuo in the second movement.

The outline of the first movement suggests a sonata form with a single rhythmically-striking main idea. In the second movement, expressively the most serious, one can occasionally sense for a moment the sadness that undoubtedly came over the composer at times - whether caused by the recent death of Vítězslava Kaprálová, to whom he had a close relationship both as an artist and as a person, or his approaching farewell to Europe. The second movement again elaborates a single theme, remarkable for its large melodic range, filling the whole movement with uncommon meditative beauty. The third movement then returns to the dominating carefree mood of the work underscored by fresh rhythm and broad tonal plains.

The Sonata da camera was premiered in 1943 by cellist Henri Honegger of Geneva to whom it is dedicated, with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under the baton of the excellent Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet. Some other works by Martinů were also performed by Ansermet including the First Symphony, H 289 and the Parables, H 367, in their premieres, and he wrote several analyses of these works as well as the program notes for the first performance of the Sonata da camera in which he paid the following compliment to Martinů's music: "Few contemporary composers have applied today's slogan of a "return to pure music" in a manner so fortunate as Martinů, in the sense that the inspirations of his music are really fully contained in the musical substance, [...] that he finds ways of breathing an ardent life of feelings into his music without resorting to that 'rhetoric' of emotions worked out by romanticism [...]. The Sonata da camera is a radiant example." Henri Honegger himself retained exclusive rights to its performance for a rather long time.

Jana Honzíková, programme of the Bohuslav Martinů Festival's concert, December 8, 2001

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