This disc comes into competition with two other
discs: one from Supraphon; the other from Chandos. Only the Chandos
is an exact match for content. Both Kontrapunkt and Chandos give
both concertos and the quarter of an hour Concertino. The
Concertino is a substantial work in its own right. The current
Supraphon CD (SU 3543-2 031) provides just the two concertos.
The Supraphon was first 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 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
the part of the undemonstrative and confident singer in the first
movement of the Second Concerto. Cellist and orchestra are bathed
and haloed in a sunny rounded acoustic. This suits Martinů's
sunny generous-souled music but it does leach away some
of the countervailing drama and incident. This is less of a problem
with the superbly detailed Supraphon recording made on 2 and 3
November 1981 using an early PCM digital setup. Angelica
May, who in the intervening years, seems to have dipped completely
from sight, finds in the music a variegated emotional contouring
that is far less overt on the Kontrapunkt disc.
The Second Cello Concerto was begun in
November 1944 in exile in the USA where his helter-skelter creativity
was caught in the flood of writing
symphonies and having the pick of US orchestras falling over each
other to premiere them. A falling out with the intended soloist
meant that Martinů never heard the work. As Geoffrey Thomason's
superb notes point out, the Concerto was
first heard in Czechoslovakia, the very country Martinů now
disavowed because of its Socialist regime. The soloist at the
premiere was Saša (or Alexandr) Večtomov a name familiar
to collectors of Martinů LPs. Shortly after the premiere
Večtomov went into Prague's
Supraphon studios to record the piece. I had the LP for years
... but no longer. A pity because I would like to hear it again.
I now understand that Panton have a 2 CD set of Večtomov
in the Second Cello Concerto, all three cello sonatas and a
set of variations for piano and cello.
The First Concerto is made to sound a
bigger and more dynamic work than I had remembered and expected.
I first heard it in lighter glabrous style on a Supraphon LP.
Its big andante moderato is a lamentation - serious and
reflective with some of the same atmosphere I thought. The Second
Concerto is more soulful than dynamic - in fact Fukačová
and the Odense Orchestra accentuate the reflective rather than
the brilliance or emotional extremes.
also premiered the Concertino, a neo-classical
work dating from the composer’s years in Paris. It is dry and
bright and when animated seems to refer across to Petrushka.
It also has its extremely touching moments (e.g. the piping andante
passage at 7.43).
Obstinately natural balances with some roughnesses
from the Odense Orchestra (who were superb in a Nielsen collection
on Regis), poetically introspective interpretations by Fukačová,
good background notes, generous playing time.
Obstinately natural balances, poetically introspective interpretations
by Fukacova, good background notes, generous playing time. ...
see Full Review
NOTE: There is a fourth CD of the two
cello cocnertos. This is on the FBM
or "Bohemia Music" label with Jiri Hosek (cello) and Petr Pololanik
conducting the Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic Orchestra. This
is understood to have been recorded in 1999. I am grateful to
my friend Jacques Kleyn for this information. If anyopne
at FBM reads this review will they please cotnact me via Dr Len
Cello Concerto No. 1 [26.01]
Cello Concerto No. 2 [35.58]
Cello Concerto No. 1 [27.44]
Cello Concerto No. 2 [36.36]
Cello Concerto No. 1 [27.32]
Cello Concerto No. 2 [36.27]