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Hyperion Records

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Silver Birches by Dorothée Martin du Mesnil (b1959)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67672
Recording details: April 2004
Dvorák Hall, Rudolfinum, Prague, Czechoslovakia
Produced by Zdenek Zahradník
Engineered by Tomáš Zikmund
Release date: February 2008
Total duration: 26 minutes 13 seconds

'With its fresh invention and lively demeanour, [Concerto da camera] remains one of his more popular concertos although it has never received its due on disc. This newcomer sets that omission straight, however, crisply performed and immaculately recorded. The same applies to its companion pieces … strongly recommended' (Gramophone)

'Christopher Hogwood and Bohuslav Matoušek are entirely at home with this repertoire: there is a wealth of interpretative details, but what impresses most is the bigger picture and strong sense of where Martinů is going … in this clear recording there is a huge amount to enjoy' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The Concerto da Camera is an inventive and satisfying score in Martinů's Concerto Grosso mode with an appealing variation first movement radiating vitality … Christopher Hogwood has developed into an outstanding Martinů interpreter and the performances are first-class' (International Record Review)

'Matoušek enjoyes a distinctly concertante approach to the Concerto da camera, only at the appropriate moments stepping into the soloist's role … Matoušek revels in the technical demands of the Czech Rhapsody and caresses its long, flowing melodies with considerable beauty. Karel Košárek is the excellent pianist, and the Czech Philharmonic is well versed in Martinů's personalised tonal qualities. There's immaculately balanced sound with transparency throughout the orchestra' (The Strad)

'Martinů is a terminally underrated figure; these blistering performances will hopefully provide a tipping-point of recognition' (Classic FM Magazine)

'This disc is superb in every aspect from performance to recording quality, and will really force the listener to re-evaluate Martinů’s place among composers. Very highly recommended' (Audiophile Audition, USA)

'Like the first issue, his disc is an absolute delight from start to finish, and performances are utterly convincing. Hogwood keeps the music flowing naturally and everything here is a testimony to Martinů's fertile inventiveness. Sound and presentation are of a consistently fine quality' (Classical.net)

Concerto da camera, H285
composer
July 1941; violin, string orch, piano & percussion; commissioned by and dedicated to Paul Sacher & Basel Chamber Orchestra; first performed by them & Gertrud Flügel (violin) in Basel on 23/1/1942; vln part subsequently slightly simplified (as rec. here)

Adagio  [9'03]
Poco allegro  [9'43]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In the Concerto da camera Martinu returned once more to his favourite concerto grosso form, which allowed him to avoid the thematic dualism of sonata form and to concentrate on the constant evolution of small musical cells. The first movement, Moderato, poco allegro, is in variation form, with spicy harmonies that are quite often polytonal. The orchestral writing is transparent and clear with only spare use of the timpani. The second movement, Adagio, is reminiscent of a baroque aria, characterized by the highly dense polyphonic writing for the string orchestra. It anticipates Martinu’s development towards emotional warmth and a Dvorák-like cantabile quality. The piano part, with its long rhythmical values, constitutes a sort of cantus firmus under the rich figurative work of the orchestra and the solo violin. The third movement, Poco allegro, is a rondo with a melodically and rhythmically distinct motif related to that of the first movement. The orchestra is given added colour by cymbals and a triangle. Martinu again combines elements of concerto grosso with lyrical cantilena close to the expressive world of Dvorák.

The premiere of Concerto da camera took place on 23 January 1942 in Basel with Gertrud Flügel and the Basel Chamber Orchestra under Paul Sacher. Three days later Sacher telegrammed to Martinu: ‘Violin concerto accepted with enthusiasm we all thank you.’ Because of the freshness of its musical invention, the sensual sound of the orchestral part and the virtuosity of the solo parts, the Concerto da camera is a favourite among Martinu’s instrumental concertos; it provides delight to both performers and listeners.

It was unknown until recently that Martinu later slightly simplified the solo violin part, probably as a result of suggestions from the American violinist Louis Kaufman, who describes it in his memoirs A Fiddler’s Tale. This version of the concerto was published by Universal Edition in Vienna, and is recorded here.

from notes by Aleš Brezina © 2008

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