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Sylvie BODOROVÁ (b.1954)
Concerto dei fiori for violin and strings (1996) [15:06]
Bern Concerto 'Silberwolke' for violin, viola and strings (2005) [17:58]
Otmar MÁCHA (1922-2006)

The Pure Virgin - Variations on a Czech Mediaeval Song for violin and string orchestra (1997) [10:27]
Zdeňek LUKÁŠ (1928-2007)

Concerto Grosso op. 36 (1964) [9:31]
Dies Natalis for violin and strings op. 348 (2005) [8:36]
Luboš FISER (1935-1999)

Amoroso [1:55]
Jakub Sedláček (violin); Jakub Junek (violin); Pavla Franců (violin); Vitĕzslav Ochman (violin); Jitka Hosprová (viola); Veronika Vostrá (violin); Tomáš Hanousek (viola); Helena Matyášová (cello); Josef Suk (violin) (Fiser); Josef Halá (piano) (Fiser);

Quattro Orchestra/Marek Štilek
rec. November 2007, March 2008, Domovina Studio, Prague. DDD
ARCO DIVA 0100-2 131 [64:02]

Experience Classicsonline

The group of Czech composers known as ‘Quattro’ got together as a group in 1996. They comprise the four listed in the heading of this review. That they collaborated as a group is remarkable given their widely differing ages and circumstances.

Bodorová's seems, in one way or another, to be bound up with the composer's feelings about the death of Ton de Leeuw with whom she studied briefly in the 1980s. It is a melodic work as you would expect if you have heard any Bodorová before. The music moves ecstatically between the peaceful polarities of Bach's violin concertos, of the Finzi Introit and the Barber violin concerto. It is a most beautiful work and radiates an aura of contentment - of blessing. From a decade later comes Bern Concerto which has a less vulnerable human heart although Bodorová drops the defences once in the first movement before the steely springy writing returns. A tender Amorevolmente with echoes of the middle movement of Tippett's Triple Concerto separates the first movement from the third which once again has strong Tippett DNA. Fiser's Amoroso is played by a famous duo and this recording must surely date from many years before the other recordings here. Amoroso is a romantic violin song lasting almost two minutes.

Mácha's Variations are built around a 14th century Marian song and are tensely lyrical. Once again the singing aspect of the Barber concerto is a seeming influence but with slightly more asperity than the Bodorová and with breezes borne in from chillier realms such as those of Schnittke and even Shostakovich. Lukas's Concerto Grosso is in three movements lasting a minute short of the duration of the Mácha piece. This is a compact work which is not merely brief but succinct. The emotional core of this work is nowhere near as yielding as the Bodorová and Mácha pieces. It is taut, straining for effect, tense, athletic and even a little fearful. Stylistic parallels can be drawn with Bartók and with early Tippett. Lukas's Dies Natalis was written much more recently than the Concerto Grosso and is more pliable and heart-eloquent than the partner work. In the first movement the contours of optimism traced by Martinů are to be heard and in this case link back to Dvořák and the Dumky.

The annotation is full and is in English and Czech.

This disc opens the door on a largely unfamiliar lyric movement within modern Czech music. Try it - you will not be disappointed.

Rob Barnett


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