Martinu / Foerster / Novak: Cello Concertos

PKF – Prague Philharmonia


March 2010


Jirí Bárta, who for a number of years has been considered one of the finest cellists both at home and abroad, has certainly not chosen the three concertos on this CD at random. Bohuslav Martinu’s first concerto, in the definitive 1955 version, is among the works Bárta most cherishes and performs most frequently. At the same time, this opus bridges the imaginary space between the other compositions. Its first version originated in 1930, at the time when J. B. Foerster was completing his one and only cello concerto. This work of a composer with a Czech soul and European experience has its world premiere on this recording.

From an entirely different world is Jan Novák’s syncopated Capriccio, a piece with distinct jazz elements in which the solo instrument is accompanied by a big band. Novák, sharing with his teacher Martinu the fate of an émigré who would never again see his homeland, completed Capriccio a short time after Martinu, in the twilight of his life, gave his first concerto its definitive form. Capriccio too is released here for the first time on CD and features Jirí Bárta accompanied by the best Czech chamber orchestra under its chief conductor, the rising star Jakub Hruša.


…Jirí Bárta… plays with a warm, unselfconscious expressiveness that connects with all three works, and the Prague Philharmonia is with him every step of the way.

Gramophone Awards Issue 2009