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Hyperion Records

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Undergrowth (detail) (1910) by Roger de la Fresnaye (1885-1925)
Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris / Lauros / Giraudon / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67673
Recording details: May 2001
Dvorák Hall, Rudolfinum, Prague, Czechoslovakia
Produced by Zdenek Zahradník
Engineered by Tomáš Zikmund
Release date: May 2008
Total duration: 22 minutes 33 seconds

'In the Rhapsody-Concerto Matoušek shows himself as adept a viola-player as he is a violinist, sweeter-toned than Telecky and a match for Imai and Bukac … this third volume in Hyperion's invaluable series is as desirable as its predecessors: highly recommended' (Gramophone)

'The performance of the two-movement Rhapsody-Concerto is exemplary … Matoušek exchanges violin for viola and luxuriates in the radiant lyricism of Martinů's last period. Hogwood shapes the structures with magnificent insight and, with the orchetsra, provides attentive accompaniment throughout' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Martinů was prolific in every field, but perhaps no more so than in the concerto, where he explored a variety of forms and instrumental combinations … Bohuslav Matoušek plays all three works here with energy and an imaginative range of tonal colour, while the accompaniments from Christopher Hogwood and the Czech orchestra are equally resourceful' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Bohuslav Matoušek, as he has shown in the previous two volumes in his series, is a master interpreter of Martinů's music, but his wonderfully intense playing of the Rhapsody reveals him as a superb viola player as well … magnificently recorded, with excellent documentation. Buy it' (Dominion Post, New Zealand)

Suite concertante for violin and orchestra, H276a
composer
November 1943 to February 1944; 2nd version; dedicated to Samuel Dushkin; first performed by Dushkin with Vladimir Golschmann and the St Louis Orchestra on 28 December 1945 in St Louis, Missouri; published by Schott

Aria: Andantino  [7'53]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Suite concertante, second version, H276A, like the first version dedicated to Samuel Dushkin, is so radically different from its predecessor that it justifies its status as a separate work, rather than merely as a revision. Its four movements were probably written between November 1943 and February 1944. For the first movement Martinu used the material from the Prelude of the first version, but altered it considerably. The basic tempo of Allegro is tempered by a cautionary poco moderato, probably to warn the soloist not to focus solely on technical brilliance but also on the beauty of tone required for an interpretation of the spicy, dissonant melody line. The second movement, with its title Aria, recalls Stravinsky’s famous Violin Concerto. With this title Martinu refers not only to the instrumental arias of late Baroque music but also to the singable nature of Czech and Moravian folk music. After a large orchestral introduction the solo violin enters with an arched melody, which favours consonant intervals. The remaining two movements are in a fast tempo. The Scherzo, with the tempo indication Allegretto scherzando, is a refined waltz full of chromatic ornaments for the solo violin. The thematic and textural similarity of the opening of the Rondo with the final movement of Martinu’s Violin Concerto No 1 is a singular exception in the large output of this composer. Martinu probably considered the never-performed Concerto to have no future possibility of performance and so he returned to make use of this unusual idea in its finale. However, it is also possible that the similarity is explained by the fact that it addresses the same compositional ‘problem’—the finale of a violin concerto—in a work composed for the same musician, whose violin technique had likewise inspired Igor Stravinsky.

Dushkin premiered the second version of the Suite concertante on 28 December 1945 in St Louis, Missouri, with Vladimir Golschmann and the St Louis Orchestra. Although all the reviews in the local newspapers were positive and the Suite concertante was soon published by the German publishing house Schott, there is no evidence of any other performance of this piece. The European premiere took place only in November 1999 in Zlín with Bohuslav Matoušek and the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Orchestra Zlín under Tomáš Koutník.

from notes by Aleš Brezina © 2008

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