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Martinu: Violin Concerto No 2, Serenade No 2, Etc / Faust, Belohlávek, Tiberghgien, Et Al


Release Date: 06/10/2008 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 901951   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Cédric TiberghienIsabelle Faust
Conductor:  Jiri Belohlávek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonia
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 3 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The back of the CD sleeve describes Martinu's Toccata e due canzoni, one of his major neo-Baroque masterpieces, as scored "for strings and piano obbligato". This is incorrect. The actual scoring is for piccolo, two oboes, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, timpani, percussion (cymbals, snare drum, triangle), strings, and piano. It's a small mistake, but one that highlights the one thing that prevents this otherwise excellent release from getting a highest rating. God knows that Belohlâvek's credentials as a Martinu conductor stand with the best; he sets ideal tempos, and the composer's perpetual "singing syncopations" hold no terrors for the Prague Philharmonia. But Belohlâvek himself is a gentle soul on the podium, Read more and the truth is that the Toccata e due canzoni at times almost sounds like a string orchestra piece. The winds, trumpet, and timpani get short shrift: the trumpet is permitted one vivid note, in the last chord of the piece, while the timpani rhythms that drive the first-movement toccata at bar 100 aren't even audible. In short, there's more color in this piece than we get to hear.

The Serenade, however, which actually is scored for strings alone (just violins and violas) sounds marvelous, and in the gorgeous Second violin concerto Isabelle Faust proves as winning a soloist as anyone could hope for. Here the comparatively small forces of the Prague Philharmonia (it's really a chamber orchestra) make balancing the solo against Martinu's sometimes busy textures effortless, and Faust knows very well how to breathe with the music in the outer movements--to make a strong contrast between the virtuoso passagework and lyrical episodes. This piece surely is one of the great 20th-century essays in the form, and it deserves a regular presence in today's concert halls. So even if this well-engineered program isn't quite ideal in all respects, it's very good by any measure and definitely worth your consideration, particularly for the serenade and the concerto.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Serenade for 2 Violins and Viola no 2 by Bohuslav Martinu
Conductor:  Jiri Belohlávek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932; France 
Length: 7 Minutes 20 Secs. 
2.
Toccata e due canzoni, H 311 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Cédric Tiberghien (Piano)
Conductor:  Jiri Belohlávek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; USA 
Length: 25 Minutes 30 Secs. 
3.
Concerto for Violin no 2, H 293 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Isabelle Faust (Violin)
Conductor:  Jiri Belohlávek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944-1945; Czech Republic 
Length: 29 Minutes 59 Secs. 

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