WORKS: Le raid merveilleux; La revue de cuisine; On tourne!
PERFORMER: Czech PO/Christopher Hogwood
CATALOGUE NO: SU 3749-2
Christopher Hogwood’s combination of musicology and musicianship, allied to his long-standing love of Martinu’s music, has borne fruit in this collection of three adventurous theatrical scores from 1927. The jazzy ballet The Kitchen Revue is played in Hogwood’s own new edition of the complete ballet, with about four minutes’ more music than the familiar Suite. And the other two works, unperformed in the composer’s lifetime, are new to the British catalogue. The Amazing Flight, intended for a dancer-less ‘ballet mécanique’ of lighting and shadows about a failed attempt at an Atlantic crossing, is raucous in places but most memorable for its quiet passages of two-part writing. On tourne! (or Lights! Camera! Action!), a half-hour orchestral score designed to accompany a tall story of submarine life told in puppetry and cartoon film, mixes jazz rhythms with more strong, simple counterpoint. The performances are spirited, though the violins struggle with a few outrageously tricky passages. The main drawback is the recording, close and tight on the first two, chamber-scale, pieces, then suddenly expansively boomy in On tourne!. Anyone listening to the whole CD in one go will need to reach for the volume control between works. But Martinu enthusiasts will want to make repeated use of the Play button. Anthony Burton