The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (171): Last of the doubles

The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (171): Last of the doubles


norman lebrecht

September 02, 2020

Bohuslav Martinu’s double concerto for two string orchestras. Why don’t today’s composers double up?

Martinu even had two dogs.


  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Great piece of music – perhaps my favorite Martinu work.

    • Kapustin says:

      Mine as well. Especially the opening of the 2nd mvt and its return after that long buildup at the end of the 3rd. More pieces in minor keys should end with that added 9th!

  • RW2013 says:

    Frank Martin’s sublime Petite symphonie concertante uses 2 string orchestras.

  • Le Křenek du jour says:

    Two of everything?
    Well, at the time of the Double Concerto, Martinů was torn between two women, his wife and his lover. “Ceci explique peut-être cela.”

    Let’s add a couple to the list of modern doubles:
    The foremost in my book, after Martinů, would be Sofia Gubaidulina’s Concerto for Two Orchestras (symphonic orchestra plus symphonic jazz band).

    The most recent exemplar I’m aware of is Rand Steiger’s Concerto for Two Orchestras, 1986.

    In the category “less of a concerto, more of a conflagration”, and quite definitely mano a mano:
    Echo Sonata for Two Unfriendly Groups of Instruments, Schickele 9999999, attributed to P.D.Q. Bach.

    Finally a special interest, two double concerti by Křenek:
    Op. 127 for two pianos and orchestra, and op. 124 for violin and piano, with a delightful final movement “A Tempo di Ländler” 🙂
    Samples to be heard here:

  • Marfisa says:

    From another era – three symphonies for double orchestra, by the London Bach, John Christian, in his op. 18. There is an excellent Hanover Band CD.

  • Bruce says:

    Airedale! ♥♥♥

  • Joel Lazar says:

    Bartok-Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta calls for double string orchestra

    • Sixtus says:

      It has always puzzled me why the Bartok and Martinu, both masterpieces, were never coupled on a stereo LP, as far as I know. The string layout specified in Bartok’s score would work well for the Martinu.

  • Michael Turner (conductor) says:

    Following on from the string music discussion centring on RVW the other day, double string orchestras feature in the Tippett’s Concerto and the RVW’s Partita.