Concerto pour violoncelle et orchestre
DateOctober 29, 1932
InstrumentationCello, Orchestra, Orchestra
3[1.2.P] 3[1.2.Eh] 3[1.2.Bc] 3[1.2.Cbn]
4 4 3 1 T Hp str
Alain Decruck collection [TOO BIG FOR THE BOX]
1- Andantino non troppo
2- Adagietto, molto tranquillo
3- Allegro energico
Completed in New York City on October 29,1932, the Concerto for Cello and Orchestra represents Fernande Decruck’s first known concerto and large-scale work for full orchestra. At the time she was living in New York City. Her husband Maurice was a bassist and saxophonist in the New York Philharmonic and Fernande was composing, presenting organ recitals and raising two young children. In 1932, Fernande’s solo work Canitque was published and dedicated to Robert Refuveille, cellist with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. It’s quite possible that Decruck’s motivation to write a cello concerto came from this collaboration, but there is no documentation to know who the Concerto was written for and who it was dedicated to. History does show us that Decruck’s composition career developed organically through relationships with musicians, ensembles, orchestras and conductors so it is not too far a leap to think that Refuveille could have been the cellist that she had in mind.
The Concerto is presented in three movements. Movement 1—Andantino non troppo in D minor, follows a loose sonata-allegro form. Syncopated, melancholy melodies first stated in the orchestra are picked up by the cello. The movement proceeds into new tonalities taking on a hopeful spirt. A long, virtuosic cadenza interrupts the movement followed by a transition to a short recapitulation. Here the solo cello performs arpeggios over the opening theme. The movement returns to the minor key and closes with a coda that almost halts time with slow chords that evoke Fauré’s Requiem. This movement demonstrates an early example of Decruck’s melodic and harmonic style, a style that she would retain throughout her career. Movement 2—Adagietto, molto tranquillo, is in ABA form and opens with an innocent, childlike cello melody in F major. The orchestra proceeds with a full statement of the opening material that ventures into unexpected key areas followed by a cadenza for the solo cello. The original cello melody returns but with a great deal of ornamentation. Decruck returned to the 2nd movement in in 1944 and re-orchestrated it as Adagio pour violoncelle et orgue. The 1944 version revises the solo cello part and omits a great deal of the B section creating a shorter, stand alone work. Movement 3—Allegro energico opens with a fast, ominous timpani part followed by a rapid flourish in the cello that leads to a melody in D minor which sounds strikingly similar to John Williams’s Star Wars score! This movement’s outer sections are the most intriguing because of the American, cinematic sound that Decruck creates. The middle part of the movement, a fugue, is less original with the orchestra first stating the fugue before passing it off to the solo cello. One can see in this section, the influence of Bach, organ music and a tendency like many of her French peers to incorporate the fugue into large scale compositions. Later in her career, she would grapple with the inclusion of a fugue—suppressing the fugal movement of the Harp Concerto for example. Many of her mature works, eliminate the fugue entirely. The last movement ends in D major in an ebullient race to the end.
A reduction for piano and cello was created by Matthew Aubin. The reduction and orchestral score and parts are available through Éditions Billaudot and its distributors. www.billaudot.com
The Concerto for Cello and Orchestra was recorded by the Jackson Symphony Orchestra in June of 2023 with cellist Jeremy Crosmer.
**At the time of publication, there is no evidence that the Concerto pour violoncelle et orchestre was ever premiered or performed during the composer’s lifetime.
The Alain Decruck collection has a full score and a reduction of movement 2 for cello and organ.
A professional recording with cellist Jeremy Crosmer and the Jackson Symphony Orchestra will be available in early 2024. An archival recording is available upon request.