Bartok/Martinu/Janacek

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Bartok/Martinu/Janacek
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta; Concerto for String Quartet & Orchestra; Capriccio
PERFORMER: Joela Jones (piano), Cleveland Orchestra/Christoph von Dohnányi
CATALOGUE NO: 443 173-2 DDD
Rudolf Firkusn´y studied with Janácek and was a close friend of Martinu, several of whose works he premiered. His special affinity with the music is evident in these splendid recordings, made in Prague in June 1993, which form a fitting tribute to this fine pianist who died last year. He is on excellent form, and the orchestra and conductor match his sensitivity. The only real drawback is the documentation, which is wholly concerned with Firkusn´y; there is not a word of information about the music. How can a major company like RCA make such a misjudgement?

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Martinu also fares well in the Cleveland recording. His Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra emerges as a virile and at times powerful piece, its personality by no means overshadowed by the accompanying Janácek and Bartók works. Janácek’s Capriccio is one of the least known fruits of his final years, but it is as compelling as one might expect, with Joela Jones an idiomatic soloist. Dohnányi and his orchestra are particularly successful in Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta. The recording captures the refinement of their pianissimo playing, while, when earthy vigour is required, the Clevelanders do not disappoint.Terry Barfoot