Martinu: Music for violin and orchestra, Vol. 3: Suite concertante – first & second versions; Rhapsody‑Concerto

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COMPOSERS: Martinu
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Martinu
WORKS: Music for violin and orchestra, Vol. 3: Suite concertante – first & second versions; Rhapsody‑Concerto
PERFORMER: Bohuslav Matousek (violin, viola);
Czech PO/Christopher Hogwood
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67673

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The main part of the third volume of this excellent series comprises two versions of the Suite Concertante. Martinu was rarely uncertain when composing, but wrestling with a resolution to an affair with his pupil Vítezslava Kaprálová, work on the Suite proved difficult. The first version was not performed in Martin∞’s lifetime and the second is virtually a complete recomposition quite justifying the recording of both. The opening movement of the first version has its pungent moments, but also dithers in places and it is here that violinist Bohuslav Matousek seems least at home. He comes into his own, however, in the sweetly intense slow movement where Martinu seems to be revealing the depth of his feelings at the time. The performance of the second version is exemplary, as is that of the two-movement Rhapsody Concerto where Matousek, exchanging violin for viola, luxuriates in the radiant lyricism of Martinu’s last period. Hogwood shapes the structures with magnificent insight and, with the orchestra, provides attentive accompaniment throughout. Jan Smaczny