When I wrote my review of the fourth disc in this series covering the complete piano works of Bohuslav Martinu Martinu: Complete Piano Music, Vol. 4 I said that the series was complete. Since that time more piano music by Martinu has been unearthed and indeed Volume 5 was released a few months ago Martinu: Complete Piano Music, Vol. 5. Now comes Volume 6 and it is reportedly (as of now) the next to last in the series. Again, the pianist is the marvelous Czech-Swiss pianist Giorgio Koukl.
This volume contains Book I of Martinu's 'Esquisses' ('Sketches', from the early 1930s), a group of six miniatures that have echoes of the French 'Les Six' group of twenties American-jazz influenced composers. Following this are Series I and II of Martinu's 'Jeux' ('Games', also from the 1930s), a total of ten miniatures featuring bitonality, driving rhythms, sweet-tart harmonies, complicated (and delightful) cross-rhythms, and more sassy jazz influences.
From much earlier (about 1915) are Three Lyric Pieces which are melodic, even almost popular song-like in places (especially in No. 2) and occasionally Oriental-sounding, similar to Debussy's gamelan-influenced music. Following this is 'Black Bottom' from 1927, based on a popular dance of the time. If I hadn't known better I might have thought it was by Satie.
The CD is filled out with six more pieces, the 'Evening at the Shore' suite of three pieces from 1921; 'Song Without Words', also from 1921; Nocturne from 1915 (as impressionistic as anything Martinu wrote and filled with bell-sounds so often used by Martinu), and, finally, 'Chanson triste', the earliest work here, from 1911, which is indeed a sad song spiced with tangy bitonality.
Koukl is, as always before, a sterling ambassador for these works, and he gets kudos for unearthing these previously unknown gems by Martinu.