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Frank Peter Zimmermann - Martinů: Violin Concertos 1 & 2 - Bartók: Solo Violin Sonata

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Martinů: Violin Concertos 1 & 2 - Bartók: Solo Violin Sonata

Frank Peter Zimmermann, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Jakub Hrůša

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When there is so much to love about Bohuslav Martinů's two Violin Concertos, it's surprising that we hear so little of them from the top artists of today. So the first thing to say here is simply that it's very good news indeed to have the pair now being championed on BIS by the likes of Frank Peter Zimmermann and acclaimed Martinů interpreter Jakub Hrůša. Then, the further good news is that what they've produced is every bit as good one would have hoped.

Concerto No. 2 opens the programme. Written in 1943 for Mischa Elman, and premiered the same year, it was swiftly taken up by other violinists of the period, who were no doubt instantly beguiled by its romance and lyricism, and its by strong Czech folk echoes. Here, the Bamberger Symphoniker's opening orchestral tutti fabulously sets the tone: full, wide and trembling; glossily rich and rhythmically sharp, followed by Zimmermann himself displaying all his usual polish and precision (the silkiest of double-stops), while occasionally spicing his sweetly silvery and singing tone with just the right dose of folk edge. The central Andante doesn't hang around — it's a good 2'20” faster than Isabelle Faust's exquisite reading on harmonia mundi — but the overriding impression is simply one of airy movement, with an infectious sense of carefree pastoral joy from everyone. The third movement is then nothing short of a joyride, and indeed one over which it's often the high-octane orchestra that shines most brightly, for its technical pizazz, and chameleon-like reinventions over the score's constantly shifting shapes, colours and moods.

Next comes Concerto No. 1, and if ever a concerto were a wronged Cinderella then it's this one. Penned in 1931 while Martinů was living in Paris, it's again alive with Czech folk inflections, but this time sitting within a neoclassical language no doubt inspired by his fellow Paris-based émigré, Stravinsky. It was also written for the dedicatee of Stravinsky's own Violin Concerto of 1931, Samuel Dushkin. However, unlike with Stravinsky, Dushkin refused to play ball with Martinů — demanding successive revisions, delaying performing it, and refusing other violinists to premiere it in his place, until eventually the work was put to one side. The manuscript was eventually rediscovered in 1968, nine years after Martinů's death, and premiered in 1973 by Josef Suk. It's hard to know for sure whether the violin part's virtuosities were more a result of Dushkin's penchant for display, or of Martinů flexing his own violinistic muscles (it was as a violinist that he first entered the Prague Conservatory). Either way, Zimmermann dispatches its fiendish acrobatics with vim-filled perfection, matched over every hop, skip and jump by the crisply fleet-footed and exuberant orchestra.

Frankly, all the above would be enough to sell this recording. However Zimmermann then also gifts us with a compellingly impassioned reading of Bartók's Hungarian folk and Bach-influenced Sonata for Solo Violin of 1944. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz

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Martinů: Violin Concertos 1 & 2 - Bartók: Solo Violin Sonata

Frank Peter Zimmermann

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Violin Concerto No. 2, H. 293 (Bohuslav Martinů)

1
I. Andante - Poco allegro
00:11:45

Frank Peter Zimmermann, Artist, MainArtist - Bohuslav MARTINU, Composer - Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra - Jakub Hrusa, Conductor

(C) 2020 BIS (P) 2020 BIS

2
II. Andante moderato
00:07:09

Frank Peter Zimmermann, Artist, MainArtist - Bohuslav MARTINU, Composer - Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra - Jakub Hrusa, Conductor

(C) 2020 BIS (P) 2020 BIS

3
III. Poco allegro
00:08:06

Frank Peter Zimmermann, Artist, MainArtist - Bohuslav MARTINU, Composer - Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra - Jakub Hrusa, Conductor

(C) 2020 BIS (P) 2020 BIS

Violin Concerto No. 1, H. 226 (Bohuslav Martinů)

4
I. Allegro moderato
00:09:42

Frank Peter Zimmermann, Artist, MainArtist - Bohuslav MARTINU, Composer - Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra - Jakub Hrusa, Conductor

(C) 2020 BIS (P) 2020 BIS

5
II. Andante
00:05:22

Frank Peter Zimmermann, Artist, MainArtist - Bohuslav MARTINU, Composer - Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra - Jakub Hrusa, Conductor

(C) 2020 BIS (P) 2020 BIS

6
III. Allegretto
00:07:52

Frank Peter Zimmermann, Artist, MainArtist - Bohuslav MARTINU, Composer - Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra - Jakub Hrusa, Conductor

(C) 2020 BIS (P) 2020 BIS

Sonata for Solo Violin, Sz. 117 (Béla Bartók)

7
I. Tempo di ciaccona
00:08:59

Bela Bartok, Composer - Frank Peter Zimmermann, Artist, MainArtist

(C) 2020 BIS (P) 2020 BIS

8
II. Fuga. Risoluto, non troppo vivo
00:04:16

Bela Bartok, Composer - Frank Peter Zimmermann, Artist, MainArtist

(C) 2020 BIS (P) 2020 BIS

9
III. Melodia. Adagio
00:06:25

Bela Bartok, Composer - Frank Peter Zimmermann, Artist, MainArtist

(C) 2020 BIS (P) 2020 BIS

10
IV. Presto
00:04:43

Bela Bartok, Composer - Frank Peter Zimmermann, Artist, MainArtist

(C) 2020 BIS (P) 2020 BIS

Descrizione dell'album

When there is so much to love about Bohuslav Martinů's two Violin Concertos, it's surprising that we hear so little of them from the top artists of today. So the first thing to say here is simply that it's very good news indeed to have the pair now being championed on BIS by the likes of Frank Peter Zimmermann and acclaimed Martinů interpreter Jakub Hrůša. Then, the further good news is that what they've produced is every bit as good one would have hoped.

Concerto No. 2 opens the programme. Written in 1943 for Mischa Elman, and premiered the same year, it was swiftly taken up by other violinists of the period, who were no doubt instantly beguiled by its romance and lyricism, and its by strong Czech folk echoes. Here, the Bamberger Symphoniker's opening orchestral tutti fabulously sets the tone: full, wide and trembling; glossily rich and rhythmically sharp, followed by Zimmermann himself displaying all his usual polish and precision (the silkiest of double-stops), while occasionally spicing his sweetly silvery and singing tone with just the right dose of folk edge. The central Andante doesn't hang around — it's a good 2'20” faster than Isabelle Faust's exquisite reading on harmonia mundi — but the overriding impression is simply one of airy movement, with an infectious sense of carefree pastoral joy from everyone. The third movement is then nothing short of a joyride, and indeed one over which it's often the high-octane orchestra that shines most brightly, for its technical pizazz, and chameleon-like reinventions over the score's constantly shifting shapes, colours and moods.

Next comes Concerto No. 1, and if ever a concerto were a wronged Cinderella then it's this one. Penned in 1931 while Martinů was living in Paris, it's again alive with Czech folk inflections, but this time sitting within a neoclassical language no doubt inspired by his fellow Paris-based émigré, Stravinsky. It was also written for the dedicatee of Stravinsky's own Violin Concerto of 1931, Samuel Dushkin. However, unlike with Stravinsky, Dushkin refused to play ball with Martinů — demanding successive revisions, delaying performing it, and refusing other violinists to premiere it in his place, until eventually the work was put to one side. The manuscript was eventually rediscovered in 1968, nine years after Martinů's death, and premiered in 1973 by Josef Suk. It's hard to know for sure whether the violin part's virtuosities were more a result of Dushkin's penchant for display, or of Martinů flexing his own violinistic muscles (it was as a violinist that he first entered the Prague Conservatory). Either way, Zimmermann dispatches its fiendish acrobatics with vim-filled perfection, matched over every hop, skip and jump by the crisply fleet-footed and exuberant orchestra.

Frankly, all the above would be enough to sell this recording. However Zimmermann then also gifts us with a compellingly impassioned reading of Bartók's Hungarian folk and Bach-influenced Sonata for Solo Violin of 1944. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz

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