A new generation of performers is discovering the music of the great Swiss composer Frank Martin (1890-1974) & this outstanding CD is one of a slew of recent recordings. 2 of the works are essential in anyone's library: the Concerto for 7 Wind Instruments (1949) and the Violin Concerto (1950-51). Despite their proximity in time, they make a well contrasted pair: the 1st, with its virtuoso handling of the 7 solo lines, alone & in combo, tends towards the genre of 'expanded chamber music' - Martin's own description of his 'Petite Symphonie Concertante' - whereas the 2nd is a bona fide, large scale concerto, albeit one with a marvelously subtle orchestral palette, inspired by the spirit Ariel from Shakespeare's 'Tempest,' a play that preoccupied Martin for the 1st half of the 1950s. One could also say that the 1st piece tends towards the 'Classical' & the 2nd towards the 'Romantic,' were it not for the fact that one of the intriguing characteristics of Martin's mature music is that it reconciles & merges these 2 polarities, just as it combines characteristics we may think of as 'French' & 'German.' In any case, his music remains among the most direct & deeply satisfying of the 20th century, & these performances by the Orchester Musikkollegium Winterthur under Jac van Steen are absolutely 1st rate, & in excellent sound to boot.
The 3rd work, the 'Danse de la peur' (Dance of Fear) is an arrangement for 2 pianos & small orchestra of a section of an abandoned ballet composed in 1936. This was the period when Martin was exploring the implications of 12-tone theory for the evolution of his individual musical language, which was to resolve in 1938 with the formation of his mature style. The 'Danse de la peur' is a suitably spooky, even violent piece, full of rhythmic vitality; it would certainly lend itself well to choreography. Far less well known than the other 2 pieces, it too gets an excellent reading here.
Again, these are among the finest of recent performances of the 2 major works - both of which have been recorded many times - and if you're looking for a modern version of them I recommend this CD without reservations.