For those who like their modernism light, buoyant, and lyrical, there's Bohuslav Martinu's prewar music. And for those who like their modernism big, bold yet still lyrical, there's Martinu's postwar music. On this 2007 Hyperion disc, the first of four devoted to the Czech composer's complete violin concertos, violinist Bohuslav Matousek with Christopher Hogwood and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra present three wonderful works from both sides of the war: the Concerto for flute, violin, and orchestra from 1936 and the Duo concertante for two violins and orchestra from 1937 plus the Concerto in D major for two violins and orchestra from 1950.
In the second of four Hyperion discs dedicated to the works for violin and orchestra by Czech-French-American-Swiss composer Bohuslav Martinu, violinist Bohuslav Matousek with Christopher Hogwood and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra join two of the composer's typically atypical works: the Concerto da camera for violin with string orchestra, piano and percussion and the Concerto for violin and piano with orchestra.
These quartets are Juilliard specialties, and anyone wanting to hear this music played with a near ideal combination of virtuosity and humanity need look no further. Carter's quartets are not for the musically faint of heart: they are uncompromisingly thorny, intricate pieces that require lots of intense, dedicated listening. Very few people doubt their seriousness–or even their claims to musical greatness–but just as few people enjoy listening to them. Perhaps this spectacular set will encourage the adventurous to give them a shot. They're worth the time.