Frank Peter Zimmermann – Martinu – Violin Concertos Nos. 1,2 – Bartok – Sonata for Solo Violin (2020) [24bit FLAC]

Frank Peter Zimmermann – Martinů-Violin Concertos Nos. 1,2 – Bartók – Sonata for Solo Violin (2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:14:19 minutes | 1,22 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © BIS

Frank Peter Zimmermann, one of today’s most highly regarded violinists, takes our breath away with this recording together with the Bamberger Symphoniker and their chief conductor Jakub Hruša – one of the leading Martinu conductors of today. They start off by exploring the lyrical side of Bohuslav Martinu, offered in the Second Violin Concerto (1943), to dive into the neo-classical idiom championed by Stravinsky that informs the composer’s Violin Concerto No. 1. Béla Bartók’s Sonata for Solo Violin closes the album. 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.

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

Tracklist

01. Frank Peter Zimmermann, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra & Jakub Hrůša – Violin Concerto No. 2, H. 293: I. Andante – Poco allegro
02. Frank Peter Zimmermann, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra & Jakub Hrůša – Violin Concerto No. 2, H. 293: II. Andante moderato
03. Frank Peter Zimmermann, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra & Jakub Hrůša – Violin Concerto No. 2, H. 293: III. Poco allegro
04. Frank Peter Zimmermann, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra & Jakub Hrůša – Violin Concerto No. 1, H. 226: I. Allegro moderato
05. Frank Peter Zimmermann, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra & Jakub Hrůša – Violin Concerto No. 1, H. 226: II. Andante
06. Frank Peter Zimmermann, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra & Jakub Hrůša – Violin Concerto No. 1, H. 226: III. Allegretto
07. Frank Peter Zimmermann, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra & Jakub Hrůša – Sonata for Solo Violin, Sz. 117: I. Tempo di ciaccona
08. Frank Peter Zimmermann, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra & Jakub Hrůša – Sonata for Solo Violin, Sz. 117: II. Fuga. Risoluto, non troppo vivo
09. Frank Peter Zimmermann, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra & Jakub Hrůša – Sonata for Solo Violin, Sz. 117: III. Melodia. Adagio
10. Frank Peter Zimmermann, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra & Jakub Hrůša – Sonata for Solo Violin, Sz. 117: IV. Presto

Download:

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