Frank Peter Zimmermann, one of today’s most highly regarded violinists, takes our breath away with this recording together with the Bamberger Symphoniker and their chief conductor Jakub Hruša – one of the leading Martinu conductors of today. They start off by exploring the lyrical side of Bohuslav Martinu, offered in the Second Violin Concerto (1943), to dive into the neo-classical idiom championed by Stravinsky that informs the composer’s Violin Concerto No. 1. Béla Bartók’s Sonata for Solo Violin closes the album. Composed in 1944, only a year before Bartók’s death, it is a deeply personal statement which fuses the overall layout of Bach’s solo violin sonatas with Hungarian folk tradition with results that are as fascinating to the listener as they are challenging to the performer.
Hrůša is as fine a Martinů interpreter as anyone on the podium currently. What impresses most here, however, is the clarity and naturalness of Zimmermann’s performances, remarkable in combining an intimate knowledge of the music (the result of long study) with a freshness of approach. This is, for me, the top recommendation for these two works and, frankly, is how Martinů should always be played.
– Gramophone (Editor's Choice, January 2021)