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CD Review

Bohuslav Martinů

The Complete Music for Violin & Orchestra, Volume 2

  • Concerto da camera, H 285
  • Concerto for Violin, Piano & Orchestra, H 342
  • Czech Rhapsody, H 307A
Bohuslav Matoušek, violin
Karel Košárek, piano
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Christopher Hogwood
Hyperion CDA67672 65m DDD
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The second volume of a projected three dedicated to Martinů's music for violin and orchestra incorporates three very contrasting but highly attractive works.

The Concerto da Camera for violin and string orchestra with piano and percussion dates from 1941-42 following the composer's dramatic escape from France to America and was commissioned by Paul Sacher, who also suggested the choice of instruments.

It is written in Martinů's favourite "concerto grosso" style and is full of fresh and invigorating melodies that provide delight to both listeners and performers.

The Concerto for violin, piano and orchestra is an altogether different proposition. Written between December 1952 and March 1953, four years after the advent of Communism in Czechoslovakia, the work is deeply personal and enigmatic, deriving its momentum from its inner emotional nature, probably triggered by the crisis in Martinů's life, following the breakdown of his long term relationship with Rosalyn Barstow.

The Czech Rhapsody was composed in 1943 and was originally written for violin and piano but was later orchestrated. Although a short piece, it is extremely virtuosic and with its double stops and rapid runs, makes huge demands on the soloist.

Like the first issue, his disc is an absolute delight from start to finish, and performances are utterly convincing. Hogwood keeps the music flowing naturally and everything here is a testimony to Martinů's fertile inventiveness. Sound and presentation are of a consistently fine quality.

Copyright © 2008, Gerald Fenech