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Mitropoulos: Un morceau de concert

HMC 008

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Dimitri Mitropoulos (1896-1960) 
Un morceau de concert 
for violin and piano (1911/13;) 
Score and part 
Published in collaboration with the Gennadius Library 
Duration: 8’ 
ISMN: 979-0-9016000-6-5 
Pages: 13 score + 4 violin part 

Score designing and editing: Yannis Samprovalakis 
Foreword: Ioannis Fulias 
English translation: Helena Grigorea 
Graphic design: Antonis Kapiris 

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Foreword

  

   The work Un morceau de concert, for violin and piano, holds a special place in the oeuvre of Dimitri Mitropoulos, as it is his oldest existing chamber music composition. However, the scanty information that we possess on this piece is rather vague and comes almost exclusively from a manuscript title page that was added at a later date to the neatly copied (in ink) but undated autograph score of the work. There, the original German title – Conzert-Stück – is rendered in French, accompanied by the composer’s initials, the date 1913, and, above all, an interesting reference to the first performance of this piece, according to which it took place at NewPhaleron, on 22 March (Old Style) / 4 April (New Style Calendar) 1913, with Armand Marsick (violin), who was Mitropoulos’ teacher at the Athens Conservatoire at the time, and the young composer (piano). However, it seems more likely that this private musical performance should have taken place at Mitropoulos’ home in Old Phaleron, while the authentic reference to Old Style and New Style Calendar (which was established in Greece as late as 1923) suggests that this precious yet obviously cursory note must have been made long after the artistic event itself.

   Moreover, recent researches indicate that this same work was performed again by Mitropoulos and his friend, the famous violinist Georgios Efstathiou-Lykoudis, at a public concert given on 18 February / 3 March 1917 at the Athens Royal Theatre and consisted exclusively of compositions by Dimitri Mitropoulos, this time under the title Sonata in C minor and bearing the date 1911. It seems, therefore, that the compositional process of the work in question, which is not recorded at all in the manuscript sources kept in the Dimitri Mitropoulos Archive of the Gennadius Library (the final copy of the score for violin and piano as well as a violin part), might well be moved from 1913 back to 1911, since it is reasonable to assume that the work underwent several phases of development and successive revisions before taking its final form.

   In any case, Mitropoulos’ Un morceau de concert reflects, among other things, a fruitful attempt by the budding Greek composer to blend elements of European art music and local musical tradition. To this end, the typically romantic idiom of the work, expressed either through pure lyricism (as in the opening of the middlesection, where the sensitive style of ‘salon music’ prevails) or through brilliant virtuosic climaxes, is enriched in the outer sections with a basic thematic idea of ‘ethnic’ character, in the well-known Greek ‘syrtos-kalamatianos’ dance rhythm and with sporadic augmented seconds lending the melodic line a characteristic, though fleeting, air of chromatic modality of Greek traditional music.Atthe same time, this charming work also reveals the great talent of the adolescent composer, at a time when his incomparable musicality was already making up to an amazing degree for the still imperfect knowledge derived from his formal musical studies.


IOANNIS FULIAS

English translation by Helena Grigorea


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