Jean Martinon: The Deutsche Grammophon Legacy | Australian Eloquence ELQ4808926

Jean Martinon: The Deutsche Grammophon Legacy


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Label: Australian Eloquence

Cat No: ELQ4808926

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 4

Genre: Orchestral

Release Date: 2nd March 2015



In the vast vacuum left by Arturo Toscanini's retirement and death, French conductors were prominent among those who dominated the orchestral scene, especially in America. One of the most gifted was Jean Francisque-Étienne Martinon (1910–1976).

His complete recordings for Deutsche Grammophon (as both conductor and composer) are collected here for the first time. The first three discs contain the recordings Martinon made for Deutsche Grammophon, featuring two French orchestras, the Lamoureux and his own radio band, Orchestre National de l'ORTF. It is interesting to hear the old French woodwind and horn sound, with its pronounced vibrato, which still survived in the conductor's lifetime. The woodier French bassoon sound is also extremely characterful.

The orchestral works (Bizet, Lalo) are followed by concerto collaborations with the great cellist Pierre Fournier (1906–1986) in concertos by Lalo and Saint-Saëns, as well as Bruch's popular Kol Nidrei. As with Fournier, Martinon collaborated only once with harpist Nicanor Zabaleta (1907–1993) in the studio: in October 1969, with his own orchestra, they set down three major twentieth-century compositions for the harp by Saint-Saëns, Tailleferre and Ginastera, the concerto by Ginastera appearing on CD for the first time.

As a bonus we have one of Martinon's finest compositions, for his own instrument. He wrote his first violin concerto, the Concerto giocoso, in 1937, but did not produce its successor until 1960. It was stimulated by the playing of the inimitable Polish-born virtuoso Henryk Szeryng (1918–88), who gave the premičre in 1961 and left at least two live recordings, including one with the composer conducting. The studio recording, made under ideal conditions in Munich with Rafael Kubelík on the podium, is considered one of the foremost performances of a modern violin concerto. The music is the work of a composer who has taken cognisance of all the trends in the twentieth century, including serialism, and has evolved his own style. In a rave review in The Gramophone, the discriminating critic Lionel Salter described this style as 'free tonality' and 'post-Walton' and singled out the central movement for special praise.

'Fournier is impassioned and eloquent [in the Lalo], … expressive in the slow movement and rhythmic in the delightful Allegro presto dance section […] the Bruch is played with dignity and without undue emotionalism' - Gramophone [Fournier/Martinon]

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