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Martinu: Double Concertos for Violin & Piano / Kodama, Nemtanu

Release Date: 06/01/2018 
Label:  Pentatone   Catalog #: 5186658  
Composer:  Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Deborah NemtanuSarah NemtanuMagali DemesseMari Kodama,   ... 
Conductor:  Lawrence Foster
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Marseille Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Bohuslav Martinu, the cosmopolitan-by-fate who grew up with a bird’s eye view of the world, up in a church tower, is an endlessly fascinating composer who, at his best, surprises with magnificent beauty embedded in ample skill and great depth. He needs a bit of willing repeat exposure to reveal his greatness.

There are many good first approaches to Martinu’s oeuvre; this recording of three diverse concertos is among the best you could wish for. The opening Concerto for Two Violins and Orchestra H.329 (a composition, like the others, that was written in Martinu’s long US-American period) has everything to offer that makes loving Martinu easy: Folksy passages that engage the ear, catchy phrases that stick in the memory,
Read more lyricism that soothes, and twang and thrust enough for propelling several concertos, much less this two-movement, scarcely 20-minute-long beauty. The two violins, performed by the Romanian sisters Deborah and Sarah Nemtanu, work together like bees in a hive, providing great energy all along the way.

Next up is one of the great viola concertos of the 20th century, like so many other de facto viola concertos also slightly disguised by its name of “Rhapsody-Concerto” (H.337): a hymnic, lyrical, and unabashedly romantic work. The poetic tone is underscored by hints of Korngold in the tight first movement and a returning faux-folk phrase in the occasionally meandering second movement (most obvious at the very end) that paraphrases (possibly quotes) Dvorák at his most enthusiastically Slavonic.

After the relative calm of the viola concerto, the three-movement Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra H.292 springs from the gate like a horse stung by a hornet (sound clip), then gallops along in bursts of catchy pianism, the two players hurling themselves to the extended respite of the long, slightly slow-to-start Adagio. The whole thing is superbly executed by another sister act, Mari and Momo Kodama (the former, Kent Nagano’s wife, a Pentatone regular with a terrific Beethoven sonata cycle to her credit).

The relatively no-name Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille under Lawrence Foster (whose Eastern-European music credits–think Enescu–are impeccable) plays along most energetically, with no hint of a provincial orchestra struggling with an unfamiliar idiom. While the more popular Rhapsody-Concerto has worthy competition, there are few rivals for the other two, less frequently recorded works. As a trio, they make an irresistibly attractive, downright mandatory Martinu package in state-of-the-art sound.

– ClassicsToday (Jens F. Laurson) Read less

Works on This Recording

Concerto for 2 Violins by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Deborah Nemtanu (Violin), Sarah Nemtanu (Violin)
Conductor:  Lawrence Foster
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Marseille Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950; Czech Republic 
Rhapsody-Concerto for Viola and Orchestra, H 337 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Magali Demesse (Viola)
Conductor:  Lawrence Foster
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Marseille Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1952 
Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orchestra by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Mari Kodama (Piano), Momo Kodama (Piano)
Conductor:  Lawrence Foster
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Marseille Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; USA 

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