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SACD Review

Frank Martin

MD&G SACD 9011539-6

Concertos, Volume 2

  • Polyptyque for Violin Solo & 2 Little Strings Orchestras
  • Passacaille for String Orchestra
  • Harpsichord Concerto
Rudolf Scheidegger, harpsichord
Willi Zimmermann, violin
Musikkollegium Winterthur/Jac van Steen
Dabringhaus & Grimm MDG9011539-6 61m DDD Hybrid Multichannel SACD
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This second MD&G issue dedicated to the concertos of Swiss composer Frank Martin (1890-1974) groups together three of his most successful compositions in the genre. Martin's musical language is dominated by three very particular elements; J.S. Bach, the concertante and religious music, and all three are conspicuous in the three works featured on this disc.

The "Passacaille' was written in 1944 for the organist Karl W. Senn who had commissioned it, but in 1952 martin decided to create a version for strings and dedicated it to Karl Munchinger. The piece is moulded faithfully in the classic scheme of the "passacaglia' and displays the composer's constant search for tonal development and a bold figurational enrichment that was to reach its fulfillment in later works.

The two-movement harpsichord concerto was commissioned by Isabelle Nef and is dedicated to her. More than in the "Passacaille", the shadow of Bach is even more present, with the creation of a special type of "cadenza" reminiscent of the great master. The "Polyptque" is a fascinating piece in six short movements depicting various episodes from Christ's Passion. Martin's inspiration came from a painting by Duccio which consists of a set of very tiny panels treating the same subject. The score is permeated by a diversity of tensions expressing suffering and betrayal as well as glorification and its many colourful touches are a constant source of reflection for the listener.

Exemplary performances, superb notes and high-tech sound complete a gem of a disc in the ever growing Martin discography.

Copyright © 2008, Gerald Fenech

Trumpet