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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959)
Suite Concertante for violin and orchestra H276 (1939, 2nd version 1945) [22.42]
Violin Concerto No. 1 H232 bis (1932-33) [24.59]
Bohuslav MatouVsek (violin)
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Christopher Hogwood
rec. 12, 15, 19-20 May 2001, Rudolfinum Studio, Prague. DDD
SUPRAPHON 3653-2 031 [47.45]

These two works for violin and orchestra are linked by the violinist Samuel Dushkin. If you know his name at all it is because he was the dedicatee and first performer of Stravinsky's Violin Concerto. However Dushkin was also a close friend of the Martinus. He it was who commissioned the First Violin Concerto. Martinu had the benefit of Dushkin's comments during the writing of the work. However when delivered to Dushkin he was unhappy and the score was returned for further changes. After these had been made in 1934 Dushkin remained dissatisfied and chose not to premiere the piece. The score disappeared from sight until Harry Halbreich discovered it in 1968. It was premiered in Chicago by Josef Suk withe Chicago Symphony conducted by Solti.

The Suite Concertante in its 1945 version is in four movements - Toccata, Aria, Scherzo and Rondo. The work is spikily neo-classical, diluted hardly at all by this being the 1945 revision rather than the 1939 original. While the chaff and chatter of the Toccata is as expected there is abundant yield of human emotion in the Aria and in the Scherzo. Matousek has performed this second version of the work with the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Orchestra in Zlin in September 1999. He gave the European premiere of the first version with the Pardubice Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra under Douglas Bostock at the Prague Spring Festival also in 1999. This work is much closer to the baroque chatter of the Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra than to the romantic dramatics of the Second Violin Concerto.

Given the extremely short playing time of this disc it is a pity that the first version of the Suite Concertante was not added to bring the disc up to circa 70 minutes. It would have made a difference.

Two busily neo-classical works - not exa ctly emotionally stunted but often stilted in matters of the heart while at the same time being fluent in invention. Well performed and recorded.

Rob Barnett



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