Martinu, Stravinsky, Honegger

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Honegger,Martinu,Stravinsky
LABELS: Arte Nova
WORKS: Toccata e due canzoni, Concerto in D, Symphony No. 4 (Deliciae basilienses)
PERFORMER: Basel CO/Christopher Hogwood
CATALOGUE NO: 74321 86236 2
This disc is the first in a series celebrating the remarkable number of significant works commissioned by Paul Sacher for his Basel Chamber Orchestra – an enterprising project for Christopher Hogwood, who became its chief conductor in 1999. This particular line-up duplicates a concert conducted by Sacher in January 1947, in which all three works, commissioned to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the orchestra’s founding, received their world premieres. The booklet notes include Martinu’s and Honegger’s own programme notes for the occasion; Stravinsky declined to provide one, and instead a historical note on the genesis of the Concerto in D and Stravinsky’s correspondence with Sacher is provided by Hans-Georg Hofmann.

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The result is a useful compilation of three excellent pieces: some orchestras might give glossier performances, but these are beautifully pointed and incisively characterised. The Stravinsky is a classic, of course, but the other two items, less familiar, are quite at ease in its company. The Martinu is one of the finest of his later chamber-orchestra works, with a particularly eloquent finale; but the delight of the disc is Honegger’s lambently glowing Symphony, one of his most personal and loveable utterances, which Hogwood interprets with patent affection. Calum MacDonald