…Ensemble Villa Musica was founded in 1990 when a group of principal players from several of Germany's major orchestras assembled for master classes in Mainz under the state-sponsored Villa Musica foundation. The players decided to form the group with no limitations in repertory, but with a focus on neglected masterworks of the past. Most of the members retained their posts in orchestras and/or on the faculties of universities or music schools. The ensemble's leader since its founding has been clarinetist Ulf Rodenhäuser…
Recorded live at the Barbican in London, these recordings represent the first complete CD cycle of Martinu’s symphonies conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek. The critically acclaimed concerts were given to mark the 50th anniversary of Martinu’s death in 1959.
This new recording by the Doric String Quartet pays homage to the Czech chamber music of the 1920s, featuring string quartets by Janáček and Martinů. Exclusive on Chandos, The Doric String Quartet is now established as one of the finest young ensembles in the world.
After the death of Janáček in 1924, Martinů assumed the mantle of the leading Czech composer of the twentieth century. The chamber music on this disc abounds with the mosaic-like patterns, translucent lyricism and infectious rhythmic vitality which give his works their kaleidoscopic quality. From the highly original Sextet of 1929, with its jazzy Parisian character, to the Flute Sonata of 1945, in which the much-travelled composer imitates the song of the whippoorwill, an indigenous bird of New England, this disc surveys a quarter-century of Martinů’s prolific and always inventive output.
Bohuslav Martinů produced a huge catalogue of chamber music for a variety of instruments. The cello seems to have occupied a special place in his heart, however, and the three cello sonatas were probably of great significance to him; each of them has an entirely distinct character and appears to owe something to extra-musical events. The most dramatic of the three, the First Sonata was written in Paris in May 1939, shortly after Martinů’s Czech homeland had fallen to the Nazis. Having fled Paris in 1940, Martinů composed Sonata No.2 shortly after reaching safety in the USA, and the work celebrates the rhythms and the verve of the new world. Although written in memory of a deceased friend, the Third Sonata is still more celebratory: even the slow movement is pastoral rather than tragic, while the finale – or at least its ending – ‘would hardly be out of place at a rodeo’, as Steven Isserlis writes in his own liner notes to this disc.
Paul Watkins is one of the world’s finest cellists. He is much in demand throughout the world and although he has made several recordings for Chandos in the past, this is his first as an exclusive artist. He is accompanied by his brother Huw Watkins, with whom he has developed an extremely rewarding musical partnership. The three cello sonatas of the Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu span the period 1939 – 52 and are full of rewarding musical invention. The experience of his long exile was often expressed in his music, particularly here in the Third Sonata and in the Variations on a Slovak Theme. If in the First, competed in 1939, the unease occasioned by World War II may be detected in the first two movements, the energetic finale, driven by Martinu’s motoric rhythms, prompted the composer to remark of its first performance: ‘It came as a last greeting, a beam of light from a better world (which is the opinion of others, not my own). For several minutes we realised what music could give us and we forgot about reality.’
The Serbian sisters Lidija and Sanja Bizjak have achieved worldwide praise for their performances alike (‘brilliant sound, precise fingerwork and excellent listening skills’ – The Independent). For their debut recording on Onyx, they have created a superb programme consisting of two concertos for two pianos and orchestra by Poulenc & Martinu° to frame two works for two pianos alone – Stravinsky’s Sonata and Shostakovich’s rarely heard Concertino.