Martinu: Le Revue de Cuisine; Sextet; Quatre Madrigaux; Nonet

COMPOSERS: Martinu
LABELS: MDG
ALBUM TITLE: Martinu
WORKS: Le Revue de Cuisine; Sextet; Quatre Madrigaux; Nonet
PERFORMER: Ensemble Villa Musica
CATALOGUE NO: 304 1439-2
After moving from Prague to Paris during the 1920s, Bohuslav Martin? managed to appropriate some of the most fashionable musical styles of the period without compromising his own individuality. The results are especially irresistible in the uproarious La Revue de Cuisine, a ballet whose scenario depicts the amorous antics of various kitchen implements in a series of popular dance movements including a Tango and Charleston. Jazz elements also prevail in the Blues and Scherzo movements of the 1929 Sextet, while the Quatre Madrigaux for oboe, clarinet and bassoon from 1937 are slightly more brittle in expression. But the most satisfying reflection of Martin?’s musical word comes in the late Nonet, its two joyful outer movements framing a central Andante of poignancy.

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Supported by a warmly resonant recording the Ensemble Villa Musica performs all these works with consummate brilliance. Their rendition of the Nonet is particularly distinguished, projecting great rhythmic incisiveness and clarity of texture in the opening Poco Allegro and a real sense of mystery in the ensuing Andante. In the Sextet the first bassoonist is the real star of the show, convincingly imitating the sound of a wailing saxophone in the Blues movement. My only minor caveat in La Revue de Cuisine is that the players could have been even more extrovert in the Charleston. But all in all, a very fine disc. Erik Levi