In the second of four Hyperion discs dedicated to the works for violin and orchestra by Czech-French-American-Swiss composer Bohuslav Martinu, violinist Bohuslav Matousek with Christopher Hogwood and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra join two of the composer's typically atypical works: the Concerto da camera for violin with string orchestra, piano and percussion and the Concerto for violin and piano with orchestra. The former, written in Massachusetts in the summer of 1941 for Paul Sacher and his Basel Chamber Orchestra, is a kind of latter-day concerto grosso with the piano and percussion serving as a twentieth century continuo group. The latter, written in the winter of 1952-1953 for the husband-and-wife violin-and-piano duo of Benno and Sylvia Rabinoff of San Antonio, is a true double concerto with the soloists as full partners in the proceedings.
As in the previous volume in this series, violinist Matousek performs with a wiry tone, a sweet vibrato, and the unshakeable conviction that this is first-class music, conductor Hogwood leads with a fluent technique, an agile sense of tempo, and a keen feeling for color, and the Czech Philharmonic plays with an effortless assurance that bespeaks long familiarity with and deep affection for the music. Joined by light-fingered pianist Karel Kosárek in the Double Concerto, the performances here are easily in the same league as the classic Josef Suk Supraphone recordings of the '60s. With the addition of Jiri Teml's skillful arrangement of Martinu's hopeful and exhilarating Czech Rhapsody as a 10-minute encore, this disc will be sure to please those who already know the composer and even those who don't. Recorded in Dvorák Hall in Prague, Hyperion's digital sound is as clear and vivid as always, but also warmer and lusher than usual.