Ensemble Villa Musica

Bohuslav Martinu: Chamber Music

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Bohuslav Martinu: Chamber Music Review

by James Leonard

For a kinder, gentler, more tuneful, and even a more danceable Stravinsky in his High neo-Classical period, try the wind chamber music Czech-French-American composer Bohuslav Martinu wrote in his High French period. Three of the works on this disc by the Ensemble Villa Musica -- Le Revue de Cuisine from 1927, the Sextet from 1929, and the Quartre madrigaux from 1937 -- represent Martinu at his Parisian best: archly lyrical, angularly rhythmic, and brilliantly colorful. For a lighter, deeper, more conservative, and even a more melancholy Stravinsky in his postwar late neo-Classical period, try the last work on this disc, Martinu's Nonet from 1959 for woodwind quintet and string quartet. The outer movements sparkle and gleam in lines of melodic counterpoint while the central Andante probes mysterious harmonic and emotional depths. In all four performances, the brilliant musicians of the Ensemble Villa Musica play with the kind of verve and aplomb that make the interpretations uniquely convincing even in this lovely but little-known music. Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm provides both the music and the musicians with an idealized acoustic space of limitless height, depth, and breadth.

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