Martinu/Szymanowski/Prokofiev

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Martinu/Szymanowski/Prokofiev
LABELS: Discover
WORKS: Concerto for Two Violins
PERFORMER: André Siwy, Yaga Siwy (violin)RTBF SO/Rudolf Barshai
CATALOGUE NO: DICD 920161 DDD
This enterprising programme features three fine compositions which are very different in style and effect. Martinu’s second Concerto for Two Violins is one of several neo-classical pieces he wrote around 1950. The music has a purposeful dynamism which is well projected by the Siwy duo. However, there is greater lyrical contrast in this piece than these performers find, partly because the soloists are recorded too far forward in relation to the orchestra.

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The Szymanowski Concerto, one of his last works, is beautifully played by André Siwy, though again the balancing of soloist and orchestra is not ideal. This is an important consideration in such atmospheric music, and the performance sounds best during the more lively sections. No such problems apply in the Prokofiev Sonata, of course, in which the two violinists play with great commitment and make a really effective partnership. The work dates from 1933, shortly before the composer’s permanent return to Russia, and its unusual textures show a strong musical personality in action. None of this music is likely to be familiar to listeners, and it is therefore particularly unfortunate that the insert notes are bland and generalised when they ought to be informative. Terry Barfoot