Martin: Petite symphonie concertante; Sechs Monologe aus Jedermann; Concerto for seven wind instruments

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COMPOSERS: Martin
LABELS: Cascavelle
WORKS: Petite symphonie concertante; Sechs Monologe aus Jedermann; Concerto for seven wind instruments
PERFORMER: Gilles Cachemaille (baritone); Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/Armin Jordan
CATALOGUE NO: VEL 3026 Reissue (1991)
This disc, first issued by Erato a decade ago, remains an outstanding introduction to the music of Frank Martin. All the works included come from the Forties, but they occupy different stylistic spheres. Despite the neo-classical tint of the Petite symphonie concertante and its solo complement of harp, harpsichord, and piano, its slow introduction evokes the elegiac tone of the opening bars of Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, and in the Adagio the harp presents (no doubt coincidentally) an ostinato on the pitches D-E flat-C-B (although Martin’s pattern begins on the C) used by Shostakovich as an autobiographical fingerprint in many of his works. The Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments is an exercise in Stravinskian sonorities, metre shifts, and syncopation, while Martin’s setting of Six Monologues from Everyman further explores the vein of expression Wagner devised for Amfortas in Parsifal through an anguished but dignified meditation on memory, guilt, penitence and the anticipation of death. Armin Jordan leads performances that admirably capture the spirit of each work; despite occasional rough edges in the Concerto’s demanding writing, these accounts thoroughly convey the special qualities of Martin’s unique and movingly humane brand of musical expressivity. David Breckbill

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