Martinů: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 – Bartók: Sonata for Solo Violin

Frank Peter Zimmermann, violin

Bamberger Symphoniker; Jakub Hrůša, conductor

BIS / 2020

On the present disc, Frank Peter Zimmermann, one of today’s most highly regarded violinists, performs works by two Central European composers that also exemplify various currents in classical music during the period 1920-1950. Although it only received its first performance in 1973, Bohuslav Martinů’s Violin Concerto No. 1 had been composed 40 years earlier in the neo-classical idiom championed by Stravinsky. In contrast, the composer’s Second Violin Concerto (1943) is written in a more lyrical vein, partly to suit the playing style of Mischa Elman, the violinist who commissioned it. In both works Zimmermann is partnered by Bamberger Symphoniker under the orchestra’s chief conductor Jakub Hrůša, one of the leading Martinů conductors of today. The disc closes with a central work in the twentiethcentury literature for solo violin, Béla Bartók’s Sonata for Solo Violin. Composed in 1944, only a year before Bartók’s death, it is a deeply personal statement which fuses the overall layout of Bach’s solo violin sonatas with Hungarian folk tradition with results that are as fascinating to the listener as they are challenging to the performer.

Martinů: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 2, H. 293
1. I. Andante – Poco allegro
2. II. Andante moderato
3. III. Poco allegro

Martinů: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 1, H. 226
4. I. Allegro moderato
5. II. Andante
6. III. Allegretto

Bartók: Sonata for Solo Violin, BB 124, Sz. 117
7. I. Tempo di ciaccona
8. II. Fuga. Risoluto, non troppo vivo
9. III. Melodia. Adagio
10. IV. Presto

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Hrůša is as fine a Martinů interpreter as anyone on the podium currently…What impresses most here, however, is the clarity and naturalness of Zimmermann’s performances, remarkable in combining an intimate knowledge of the music (the result of long study) with a freshness of approach. This is, for me, the top recommendation for these two works and, frankly, is how Martinů should always be played.

Editor's Choice

Hrůša accompanies with understanding and flexibility…[In the Second] the sprung rhythms of the first movement and robust ebullience of the finale are brilliantly captured in one of the most satisfying recorded performances available. *****
BBC Music Magazine

Editor's Choice