Martin: Polyptyque – Six images de la Passion du Christ; Maria-Triptychon; Passacaille

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COMPOSERS: Martin
LABELS: ECM
ALBUM TITLE: Martin
WORKS: Polyptyque – Six images
de la Passion du Christ;
Maria-Triptychon; Passacaille

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PERFORMER: Juliane Banse (soprano), Muriel Cantoreggi (violin); German Radio PO/Christoph Poppen

CATALOGUE NO: 173 3930

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All three works on this superbly performed and warmly recorded disc attest to Frank Martin’s lifelong passion for the music of Bach. The Polyptyque composed for Yehudi Menuhin in 1973 reflects the direct influence of the St Matthew Passion, not merely in its subject matter, which presents six vividly contrasting images of the life of Christ, but also in the austere beauty and refinement of its musical language. Violinist Muriel Cantoreggi delivers a strongly lyrical performance of the solo part, her interpretation of the slow ‘Image de la Chambre haut’ achieving a slightly more flowing tempo than Marieke Blankenstijn on a currently unavailable DG release. In the Maria-Triptychon composed five years earlier, Martin combines solo violin with soprano and full orchestra to ecstatic effect in the central Magnificat. However it’s the concluding funereal tread of the Stabat Mater that really lingers in the memory, particularly as performed here with such intensity by Juliane Banse and Cantoreggi. If the earlier Passacaille for orchestra doesn’t quite achieve the same level of compositional urgency, it certainly offers a good showcase for the newly created German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra (formed out of the merger of orchestras in Kaiserslautern and Saarbrücken) which responds very effectively to Christoph Poppen’s incisive conducting. Erik Levi