This recording is the last volume of a four-disc survey of Martinu’s complete output for solo violin and orchestra, including compositions with other solo instruments. They are performed here by the orchestra in which Martinu played the violin, the distinguished Czech violinist Bohuslav Matoušek who is one of the foremost living exponents of this music, and conductor Christopher Hogwood.
Martinu’s Violin Concerto No 1 was written for the celebrated Polish-born American violinist Samuel Dushkin. Although immediately appealing to the performer, its premiere was delayed due to the volatile European political situation in the thirties, and the score was lost during World War II when Martinu was forced to hide his autographs in Europe and flee to the USA. The score was discovered in 1968 and the work did not receive its premiere until 1973. It is a dazzling, virtuoso work, revealing the influence of Dushkin’s violin playing, especially his liking for technical display.
The Violin Concerto No 2 is different from its predecessor both stylistically and in terms of its fate. It was commissioned by Mishca Elman (1891–1967), a famous American violinist of Ukrainian origin. The work’s main characteristics recall the qualities of Elman’s playing, notably his unique sound, his preference for noble and elegant melodies, his exceptional feeling for the sonority of his instrument, his love of slow tempos, and his rich use of rubato and portamento.
Bohuslav Matoušek demonstrates his great versatility in idiomatic performances of these contrasting works.