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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959)
Cello Concerto No. 1 (1930, 1939, 1955) [27.32]
Cello Concerto No. 2 (1944-45) [36.27]
Angelica May (cello)
Czech PO/Václav Neumann
rec Dvořák Hall, Rudolfinum, 2-3 Nov 1981, DDD

SUPRAPHON SU 3543-2 031 [64.12]


Recently I have been comparing three recordings of the Martinů Cello Concertos. This one differs from the Kontrapunkt and Chandos discs in that Supraphon give us only the two concertos while the Concertino (1924), written in Paris, was generously added to the other two.

The Supraphon was originally issued in 1984 and my original CD version was manufactured by Denon in Japan under the number 33C37-7868. The soloist is Angelica May with the Czech PO conducted by Václav Neumann. This has been now reissued in the UK via Koch International under a different number: SU 3543-2 031. The Chandos is on CHAN 9015 and the soloist is that champion of the neglected cello repertoire, Raphael Wallfisch. The orchestra is the Czech Philharmonic conducted by Jiří Bĕlohlávek.

Angelica May and Neumann tear into both concertos with a vivid and unshakably confident will that brooks no blandness. Neumann and the Czech Phil are steeped in the Martinů idiom in a way that Peter Csaba and his Danish orchestra could only hope to emulate. In addition the orchestral tone reaches out and touches the listener in a way that eludes Kontrapunkt's engineers. The tone of the Czech trumpets and woodwind also adds an unreplaceable savour to the musicmaking. The downside is that there is a hint of early digital glare on the massed strings at anything above forte. This is especially noticeable in the burly allegro finales with their blend of Olympian address from Bachian eminence and thunderous rhythmic emphasis.

Rob Barnett

Wallfisch (Chandos)

Cello Concerto No. 1 [26.01]
Cello Concerto No. 2 [35.58]
Concertino [13.52]
Fukačová (Kontrapunkt)

Cello Concerto No. 1 [27.44]
Cello Concerto No. 2 [36.36]
Concertino [13.35]
May (Supraphon)

Cello Concerto No. 1 [27.32]
Cello Concerto No. 2 [36.27]

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