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Frank Martin - Concerto for 7 Winds / Polyptyque / Etudes [Import]

Marieke Blankestijn Audio CD

Price: £17.98 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended recording of Frank Martin's music 29 Mar 2009
By Kuszel Marc - Published on
Format:Audio CD
Frank Martin's music has been neglected during a long time; certainly things have changed since a couple of years. Born in Geneva in 1890, Frank Martin was the son of a Calvinist minister: a man of toleration, the musical composer was very open minded as well; his knowledge of serialism and Schoenberg's heritage was very much accurate although he's never abandonned the tonal language as such. Paradoxically, Frank Martin's music was very highly appreciated by classical ... guitarists, because of the "Quatre Pièces brèves" (4 short pieces)he wrote for this instrument. Nowadays and whatever, anyone would be disposed to consider Frank Martin was a great composer of the twentieth century. He died in 1974.

The works recorded on this CD are very much dissimilar and that's a very positive thing: thus, anyone who don't know anything about Frank Martin's music would be able to discover different aspects of it. The "Concerto pour 7 instruments à vent" was written in 1949. The combination of winds, percussion and string orchestra generates a unique kind of sound no one would be able to imitate. Even if it's probably not a masterpiece as such, this work is very seldom played and recorded and remains important in Martin's musical productions.
The "Polyptyque" is a work written in 1972-73 for solo violin and two little string orchestras. Actually this is a genuine masterpiece and it was composed for Yehudi Menuhin who considered it as one the most important scores ever written for violin during the twentieth century. He was really right to think so.
The five "Etudes pour orchestre à cordes" (Studies for string orchestra) were written in 1955-56 for Paul Sacher. This work is certainly one of the most representative pieces written for string orchestra and this is a wonderful gift Martin did to Sacher, as Bartok did several years before with his famous "Music for strings, percussion& celesta" and as Dutilleux did several years later with his "Le Mystère de l'Instant".

What is to be said at last about the performance of the artists here? There's nothing very much to be said i'm afraid: to my own opinion, this is an outstanding recording in all respects. The playing of the instrumentists is great and full of contrasts: this is what's demanded in the first work recorded here. Marieke Blankenstijn gives a fantastic performance of the "Polyptyque" that could certainly be matched with Menuhin's performance given many years before. At last, the conducting of Thierry Fischer is quite outstanding in the "Etudes" for strings. Could anyone be able to explain the reason why this remarkable CD was actually deleted from the Deutsche Grammophon catalog? Thanks to amazon marketplace to make such recordings available again to anyone who would like to own them. Thank you very much for reading this review.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two-Thirds of a Fine CD, But... 3 Feb 2009
By Nicholas A. Deutsch - Published on
Format:Audio CD
This CD would seem to have a winning mix: 3 masterpieces by a great composer, played by a leading orchestra under an experienced Swiss conductor, recorded and issued by a major label. So I'm probably in a minority when I express some reservations.
These don't apply to the first and last pieces, the Concerto for 7 Wind Instruments (1949) and the Etudes for String Orchestra (1955-56). They are among Martin's most direct and immediately enjoyable pieces, and they receive fine performances here, recorded in warm, full sound.
Polyptyque (1972-73) is another matter. I have tried over time to like this performance, which is every bit as well played as the rest of the program, but: no good. Marieke Blankestijn is a fine violinist, but her interpretation seems to me expressive in the wrong way, full of Romantic vibrato and generalized emotionalism. These six 'Passiontide Pictures' demand a willingness to plunge into a realm of spiritual nakedness and intensity, akin to the austerity of J.S. Bach, that eludes the performers and conductor here. Also, the pictorial element, so crucial to the impact of this work, seems to me to be underrealized. Versions by violinists such as Yehudi Menuhin (EMI) and more recently Muriel Cantoreggi (ECM) and Willi Zimmermann (MDG) carry far more conviction to my ears. I realize this is a highly personal reaction, and other listeners may well react more positively to this interpretation.
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