The Divertimento No. 1 (1946) for flute and string orchestra became the first in a series of divertimenti Weinzweig wrote over the next 52 years. He began composing the work in 1945 while in the service of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Perhaps it is a forgotten fact that from 1912 to 1948, the Olympic Games included Art Competitions in architecture, literature, sculpture, paintings and graphic art, and music. Indeed, Weinzweig earned the highest award (silver medal) in chamber music for Divertimento No. 1 at the 1948 London Olympiad.
This work combines Weinzweig’s interest in 12-tone technique with the three-movement structure and emphasis on entertainment of the original Classical genre. Weinzweig describes the three movements as follows:
“1. Fast and Playful: a chamber-like texture with an interplay between the bright lyric sonority of the flute and the playful staccato of the strings.
2. Slow: an introduction in which the dominant melodic character is established by the opening flute solo, a series of sustained low tones that rise and fall in semitone and perfect 4th intervals. Four variants follow in shorter fragments answered by the richly-colored strings that occasionally interrupt with pizzicato-glissando punctuations. Then the flute rises to an extended unbroken line that fluctuates between meditation and expressive lyricism. The introductory multi-voiced string chords are now fragmented into multi-colors. The movement concludes with a reference to the introduction.
3. Fast: a fast-moving 3/4 metre staggered by an occasional 2/4 metre. The bright, breezy rhythmic drive of the flute is impelled by sharply punctuated thrusts from the strings; now more aggressive and with more extended tuttis.”
Written by Alexa Woloshyn