Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959)
The Violin Sonatas

Violin Sonata No. 1 (1930) [17.07]
Violin Sonata No. 2 (1932) [15.43]
Violin Sonata No. 3 (1944) [26.40]
Sonata for Two Violins and Piano (1933) [12.58]
Fredell Lack (violin)
Timothy Hester (piano)
Leon Spierer (violin II)
rec. 18-20 Aug 1993, Dudley Recital Hall, University of Houston School of Music, USA. DDD
CENTAUR CRC 2276 [69.27]


You can rely on Martinů to surprise ... even to disconcert. The First Sonata tangily marries Bachian gestures with the sort of jazziness we find in Constant Lambert's Music for Orchestra and Piano Concerto. After a stark march and a Pierrot pizzicato andante comes a brief stabbing-slashing allegretto. The Second Sonata carries some of the neo-classical stigmata of 1920s Paris but then in comes a new liberated singing element which I associate with the composerís Czech homeland. This comes in the first movement with some Stravinskian coating which peels away completely in the lovely larghetto (tr. 5) reminding us of the delights of the ballet äpaliček and The Miracle of Our Lady. Petrushkan rhythmic edginess returns for the chirpy Poco allegretto. The Second Sonata is an altogether delightful work, succinct and a boldly balanced marriage between, form, material and duration. The 1933 Sonata for two violins takes, in its outer movement, the neo-classical impetus of works such as Holstís Double Concerto and marries it with a pawky humour. Some nationalist flavouring is present though not quite as pronounced as in the Second Sonata.

Twelve years and a world war later finds the Third Sonata written in Martinů's instantly recognisable language of high maturity. Jazziness has vanished and so has neo-classical desiccation. Instead we get his convulsive incessant rhythmic interplay fused with a bubbling and singing nationalistic energy. This Sonata is of a piece stylistically with the six symphonies especially the Fourth and Fifth which it sometimes echoes. After a plangently hypnotic adagio comes a nervy and driven scherzo. While the sonatas for the Parisian thirties were each in three movements this is in four. The finale combines energetic brilliance with the reflective tendency of a nostalgic exile. As Laurie Shulman says in the liner notes this work is the musical heart of the project. At thirty minutes it is of the same duration as the symphonies and is every bit their equal though for just two instruments.

I have not been able to compare this disc with the Supraphon, Studio Matous, Bonton and Panton recordings but this strikes me as a very useful coupling bright with the conviction of all the artists involved.

Rob Barnett

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.