BOHUSLAV MARTINU (1890-1959): Early Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 - Little Dance Suite, H123, [orchestral movement], H90, Nocturno 1, H91, Village Feast, H2, Prélude en forme de scherzo, H181a.
Catalogue Number: 05O001
Label: Toccata Classics
Reference: TOCC 0156
Description: Given the amount of newly discovered piano and chamber music from this composer, I guess we shouldn't have been surprised by this new release. It turns out that there is quite a lot of orchestral music written from 1907 to around 1923 which has never been published, played or recorded; according to the notes, some of it may be unrecoverable due to illegibility. But we've got plenty to start with here: the Little Dance Suite (1919) is hardly little: it's a four-movement work of almost 43 minutes - longer than any of his symphonies, and if he'd called it "Dance Symphony", no one would have looked askance at the title. The movements are Tempo di valse, "Song", Scherzo and Allegro à la polka and, as Harry Halbreich (the Belgian musicologist who is the source of the H numbers placed after Martinu's compositions) put it, it's "Vigorous, cheerful and unaffected village music". Village Feast (1907) is Martinu's second known composition and uses a well-known Czech traditional song; the untitled H90 (1913-14) is a gorgeously-orchestrated eight-minute slice of full-on French Impressionism as is Nocturno 1 (from 1914 and of the same length but with more late Romantic bite in its center section). The Prélude is the second of eight piano Préludes from 1929 which the composer orchestrated the following year. There is much more mouth-watering stuff referred to in the notes and I, for one, can't wait for Volume 2. Sinfonia Varsovia; Ian Hobson.