Pascal Verrot

Martinu: Sinfonietta Giocosa; Toccata e due canzoni; Jazz Suite

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While conductor Pascal Verrot and the Orchestre de Picardie are to be commended for attempting the mercurial music of Bohuslav Martinu, their results on balance aren't entirely successful. With its tricky tempos and sneaky syncopations, Martinu's music isn't easy to play, and its tone of ineffable evanescence is famously difficult to catch. Unfortunately, the French musicians can neither quite play nor catch the spirit of Martinu's music. The textures seem cluttered rather than clear, and the tempos seem overdriven and unnatural. For the most part, the players don't seem on top of the notes or the rhythms, and their performances sound at times brittle and almost mechanical. Pianist Claire Désert does a more than credible job in the Sinfonietta Giocosa and the Toccata e due canzoni, but without her warmth, the Jazz Suite seems like an empty exercise in pastiche. Calliope's sound is clean enough, though too close for comfortable listening.

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