BOHUSLAV MARTINU: Piano Quintet Nos. 2 H.298; Piano Quintet No. 1 H.229; Piano Quartet H.287 – Ivan Klansky, piano & Kocian Quartet – Praga Digitals

by | Jun 15, 2009 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

BOHUSLAV MARTINU: Piano Quintet Nos. 2 H.298; Piano Quintet No. 1 H.229; Piano Quartet H.287 – Ivan Klansky, piano & Kocian Quartet – Praga Digitals multichannel SACD  PRD/DSD 250250. 72:04 [Release date: April 14, 09]

Martinu, who lived until 1959, wrote a great deal of chamber music and was one of those Czech composers who spent some time in America. Living in Paris in the 1920s he was struck with the early works of Stravinsky and Honegger.  His 1933 First Piano Quintet heard here shows the influence of Ravel’s jazzy Piano Concerto in G.  It abounds in interesting syncopations, and has the cello sometimes playing pizzicato like a doublebass in jazz. The 17-minute work is a delight.

Martinu’s only Piano Quartet is considered one of his finest chamber works.  Written in Jamaica in 1942, it opens with strong rhythmic patterns not unlike Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto. Its Adagio movement is in a meditative form sharing inspiration with the composer’s First Symphony written the same year.  The Second Piano Quintet of 1945, which opens the program, runs a half hour in a four-movement form. It’s a strongly lyrical and lively work with a Bohemian folk flavor, though it doesn’t quote any specific folk songs.  This is the first time all three Martinu chamber works have been collected on a single disc, and the Kocian Quartet are known for their fine interpretations of quartets by Czech composers. Praga’s fine multichannel reproduction adds spatial interest to the quintet performances.

 – John Sunier

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