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Jan Jiri and Frantisek (Franz) BENDA (1713-1752 and 1709-1786)
Violin Concertos, Vol.1
Jan Jiri Benda: Concerto in G ,major (edited Samuel Dushkin)
Frantisek (Franz) Benda: Concerto in D major (cadenzas Sebastian Benda) and Concerto D minor (cadenzas Lola Benda)
Josef Suk and Ariane Pfïster, violins
Suk Chamber Orchestra/Christian Benda.
Rec: Lichtensteinpalast, Prague (Sound Studio HAMU) 25-28 January 1999.
NAXOS 8.553902 [54.32]
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This is obviously very much a family affair. The first Jan Jiri Benda was born in 1626 in Bohemia. Five of his six sons became distinguished musicians, the cadenzas of both Franzís concertos are by members of the family and the conductor on this record is himself a descendant of the great Benda dynasty of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Of the two composers represented Franz is, perhaps, the more interesting, living as he did for some time in Germany during a period when the baroque was moving purposefully towards the classical era of Mozart and Haydn. With his brothers Georg and Joseph, Franz entered the service of Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia and, after Frederickís succession to the throne, became Konzertmeister at the Prussian court in 1771. His concertos have a Bohemian élan and are beautifully crafted, with some of the originality and high spirits of C.P.E. Bach, with whom Franz must have been well acquainted at Frederick the Greatís court. Jiriís G minor concerto is more conventional in structure, but also reflects the lighter, brighter aspects of the Bohemian school when compared with the rather formal nature of much central European chamber music up to Haydnís arrival on the Viennese scene.

Both Suk and Pfïster (who plays the D minor by Franz) are completely at home with these works Ė expressive, enthusiastic, idiomatic, and above all, brilliant, playing that gets right inside the music and relishes its essentially virtuoso character. The sound on this disc is crisp, well balanced and makes me impatient to hear the rest of what Naxos obviously intends to be a more thorough exploration of this talented familyís extensive output.

Roy Brewer


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