Notes and Editorial Reviews
There is some marvelous music here. The Sonata da camera, written for Paul Sacher around the time of the Second World War, is actually a double concerto for violin and piano. Its harmonic language is tense and angular, very similar to the Fifth String Quartet and the much more famous Concerto for Two String Orchestras, Piano, and Timpani. The tension created between the rhythmically motoric concerto grosso format and the disturbing harmonies makes this one of Martinu's most emotionally probing neo-baroque essays.
The Concerto for Violin and Piano dates from 1953, making it contemporaneous with the wonderful Sixth Symphony, and this piece is not one whit inferior. The slow movement is particularly gorgeous, with a dreamy,
almost hallucinatory quality that we also hear in the symphony. I'm amazed that this work isn't better known. The Czech Rhapsody, originally written for Fritz Kreisler (he never played it) with piano accompaniment, was an orchestration project that Martinu failed to complete before he died. This arrangement is wholly idiomatic and the music itself is alternately sweetly lyrical, nostalgic, and dance-like, in vintage late-Martinu "Czech mode".
Christopher Hogwood continues his superb work as an exceptional Martinu specialist (I wonder if he'll get a chance to do the symphonies?), the Czech Philharmonic is typically wonderful, and both Bohuslav Matouek and pianist Karel Koárek play as well as anyone could ask. The sole problem is the sound. Hyperion's engineers have effectively tamed the Rudolfinum's notorious reverberation, but the balance between violin and piano puts the former too close and gives the latter a very odd, flat timbre. Part of the difficulty obviously stems from the works themselves, and perhaps accounts for their rarity as concert items; but with players this good I suspect the problem could have been better resolved by taking a step back and letting the musicians work it out naturally. Still, anyone interested in Martinu, or in this ongoing series of all of the works for violin and orchestra, will want this, and will enjoy it too.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Violin and Piano by Bohuslav Martinu
Bohuslav Matousek (Violin),
Karel Kosarek (Piano)
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1910; Prague, Czech Republ
Be the first to review this title