Bloch – Concertino for Flute and Viola (1950)

by Max Derrickson

Ernest Bloch   (b Geneva, 24 July 1880; Portland, OR, 15 July 1959)

Concertino for Flute and Viola (1950)
1. Allegro comodo
2. Andante
3. Allegro
Ernest Bloch’s was a two-fold career, that of teacher and composer. He cast a major influence upon the musical education scene in America, beginning with a post at New York Mannes School of Music in 1917, and then successive directorships at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the San Francisco Conservatory, and then, until his retirement in 1952, a teaching post at the University of California at Berkeley.  His compositions were equally well received.  At the height of his career, between the 1920’s and ‘40’s, he was being heralded as the fourth “great B,” following in the lineage of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms.  He created a large opus of works throughout his life composing in almost every Classical genre, drawing from diverse and eclectic inspirations, although from the 1930’s onward Jewish melodies informed a good portion of his music.  All of his works reflect his insistence that melody is a potent poetical expression.   [. . .]


The Concertino for Flute, Viola and Piano was composed in 1950 and Bloch allowed for substituting the clarinet for the viola part, and strings for the piano (which is the substitution we hear in this concert).  It shows Bloch’s love of working with traditional forms (bear in mind that by 1950 traditional forms such as the concerto had been all but abandoned by modern composers), and in writing for the sonorous and versatile voice of the viola.  The first movement starts out much like a brisk walk and weaves quickly into an intertwined flute and viola modal-melodic rhapsody.  The “call and answer” sequences between the two soloists capture a carefree air with brilliance.  [. . .]