This splendid disc was originally released on the Panton label, but happily reappears here on Supraphon. The fact that the conductorless Prague Chamber Orchestra can play this rhythmically tricky music with such confidence bespeaks long familiarity with Martinu's personal idiom. These are, one and all, fabulous pieces, particularly the Toccata e due canzone, a masterwork if ever there was one, and a much darker and more emotionally draining essay than the neo-baroque title might suggest.
Here's the bottom line: these are simply the finest versions of all three works. Tempos are lively, balances true, those long, syncopated, lyrical cantilenas in the first movements of the Tocatta and Sinfonietta soar as if self-propelled. No detail of Martinu's ceaselessly inventive orchestration passes unobserved, and his busy rhythms and obsessive ostinatos never turn mechanical (a potential issue in the Concerto Grosso especially). As usual, the Czech woodwinds (oboes especially) are a joy, and pianist Josef Hála plays delightfully in all three pieces. Excellent sonics offer an ideal combination of warmth and clarity. It doesn't get any better than this.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com