Rather like mid/late-period
Piston the music of the Swiss composer
Frank Martin is not associated with
surface display and empty brilliance.
There is an affirmatory integrity and
humanity in its place.
Violin Concerto instantly proclaims
the influence of Ravel. The orchestra
enters and later returns with a calmly
stalking theme over which the violin
later sings at 12:10 in I. Prokofiev
is an occasional visitor as at 5:20
in the first movement - where the Russianís
First Violin Concerto must certainly
have hovered in the composerís mind
as he wrote. The work bristles with
an affluence of ideas and a warm yet
dreamy urgency - ever so slightly angular,
bony but connected to the lyricism of
a Prokofiev and sometimes of a Beethoven
as at 9:25 in I. In the second movement
the sense of wandering in a moonlit
surreal landscape is strong. This is
like a concerto that stepped out of
Ravelís Mother Goose music and
seems to confide in the listener..
The Violin Concerto
was premiered by Hans-Heinz Schneeberger
on 25 January 1952 with the Basel Chamber
Orchestra. The violinist is Paul Kling
who is warm toned without being unctuous.
He articulates the fantasy in Martinís
writing with great clarity.
Stephen Kates is just
as warm-hearted and spirited as Kling.
The work opens with cello alone singing
an impassioned theme which in its intensity
links with Blochís Schelomo. A burnished
seriousness also pervades the second
movement - and do I also detect a nostalgic
strain there as well? The concentration
of both soloist and orchestra especially
in the Adagietto central movement
is remarkable. The final Vivace is
grippingly alive - ruthlessly active
and propelled by gritty piano figures
ever pushing the music forward and at
times seeming to make wholly surprising
connections with Shostakovichís wartime
The notes are by the
composer for the Violin Concerto and
by Robert McMahan for the Cello Concerto.
Both recordings, each
a world premiere, are in stereo drawn
from the original two-track session
master tape. The sound, taken down in
the Macauley Theater, Louisville, is
emphatic yet croons sweetly enough.
Here are two concertos
written in a tonal idiom with an intensity
that places them alongside the concertos
of Rubbra and in the case of the violin
work share a soul with Ravelís faerie