Martinů Complete Music for Violin and Orchestra
Bohuslav Matoušek (violin); Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Christopher Hogwood
Hyperion CDS 44611-4 (Reissue 2007-08) 241:43 mins (4 discs)
Martinů wrote only two solo violin concertos, yet also a huge amount of other music involving violin and orchestra including two double concertos, and violin with other combinations. This recording of all of them also includes the Rhapsody-Concerto for viola and an orchestration by Jiří Teml of the Czech Rhapsody for violin and piano. While there is considerable variety throughout, the overwhelming impression is of generous lyricism reaching a climax in the Second Violin Concerto composed for Mischa Elman in 1943, a work of complexity and high seriousness which is arguably Martinů’s greatest solo concerto.
Christopher Hogwood developed a passion for Martinů’s music while a student in Prague in the 1960s, as is evident at every stage in this wide-ranging collection. He seems most at home in the earlier, Baroque-inflected concerto grosso style pieces such as the Duo concertante for two violins, but he also has a firm grasp of the symphonic fibre in the bigger-boned works; the only exception being the finale of the Second Violin Concerto which is strangely halting. Throughout, Bohuslav Matoušek provides dazzling figuration while mining the rich vein of sentiment in such later works as the Concerto for violin and piano and the Rhapsody-Concerto. The recordings are all excellent; with superbly detailed liner notes by Aleš Březina, the whole issue is very recommendable.