Martin: Cello Concerto; Ballade for Cello and Chamber Orchestra; Passacaille; Trois Danses

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LABELS: Etcetera
WORKS: Cello Concerto; Ballade for Cello and Chamber Orchestra; Passacaille; Trois Danses
PERFORMER: Quirine Viersen (cello), Henk Swinnen (oboe), Kerstin Scholten (harp); Netherlands Radio CO/Kenneth Montgomery
After the Second World War, Swiss composer Frank Martin, together with his young Dutch wife, moved from Geneva to the Netherlands soon establishing himself as a vital presence in the country’s musical life. This geographical connection explains the present release recorded with commendable clarity in Hilversum and featuring some very fine home-grown soloists. Quirine Viersen, a pupil of Heinrich Schiff amongst others, delivers particularly expressive accounts of the Cello Concerto and Ballade, both works beautifully written for the instrument and presenting the composer’s distinctively acerbic compositional style in a most convincing light.


The Trois danses, one of the Martin’s last works, is somewhat different, the veneer of surface refinement being replaced by a much wilder and exploratory pose. Oboist Henk Swinnen and harpist Kerstin Scholten adopt a more energetic approach to the outer movements than the currently unavailable version from the work’s dedicatees Heinz and Ursula Holliger (Philips), though this performance doesn’t quite achieve the same rhythmic tautness. All the same, it is too important a work to be absent from the catalogue, and the inclusion of a compelling performance of the Passacaglia for Strings, an orchestration of an earlier composition for organ, makes this a very appealing programme indeed. Erik Levi