Bohuslav Matousek / Christopher Hogwood / Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

Martinu: The Complete Music for Violin and Orchestra, Vol. 1

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For those who like their modernism light, buoyant, and lyrical, there's Bohuslav Martinu's prewar music. And for those who like their modernism big, bold yet still lyrical, there's Martinu's postwar music. On this 2007 Hyperion disc, the first of four devoted to the Czech composer's complete violin concertos, violinist Bohuslav Matousek with Christopher Hogwood and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra present three wonderful works from both sides of the war: the Concerto for flute, violin, and orchestra from 1936 and the Duo concertante for two violins and orchestra from 1937 plus the Concerto in D major for two violins and orchestra from 1950. All three are marvelously played. Matousek has a Czech violinist's wiry tone and sweet intonation coupled with an elegant yet passionate technique, and his performances here are all consistently impressive and uniformly under the skin of the music. And his soloist partners are equally fine and equally adept at playing Martinu. Flutist Janne Thomsen is bright and airy in the 1936 concerto, violinist Régis Pasquier is tart but tender in the 1937 Duo concertante, violinist Jennifer Koh supple but soulful in the 1950 concerto. Conductor Hogwood, whose attraction to the composer dates back to an early '90s recording with the St. Paul Orchestra for Decca, once again proves himself a persuasive advocate for Martinu's music. And the Czech Philharmonic, the first and foremost of the county's orchestras with its trademark combination of radiant colors and propulsive rhythms, demonstrates why it is an ideal Martinu orchestra. Recorded in Dvorák Hall in Prague, this disc will be a boon to Martinu's fans and a fine alternative to Schoenberg, Shostakovich, and Stravinsky.

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