The program consists of four substantial works from the era--the "Rhapsody-Concerto for Viola and Orchestra" (1952), "Three Madrigals for Violin and Viola (Duo No. 1)" (1947), "Duo No. 2 for Violin and Viola" (1950) and the "Sonata for Viola and Piano" (1955).
The "Rhapsody-Concerto" forms the centerpiece of the program and gives us excellent mature Martinu, sure of his inventive powers, filled with musical ideas that reflect a tempered modernism along with the Czech elements so much a part of the composer's general approach. It is lyrical yet more brittle than romantic, and very well played in this new version.
The chamber works that follow give us more of the essential Martinu. Rysanov and his chamber associates rise to the occasion. The two violin-viola duos have a folkish, neo-classical directness and a fullness that belies the instrumentation. The sonata takes advantage of the piano presence for harmonically advanced excursions that are lyrical yet modulatory in the appealing ways Martinu's later works often exhibit.
Martinu was a true original. These works bring that out fully, and the focus on the viola as wonderfully played by Maestro Rysanov gives the music a thematic coherence and a lively exuberance that make listening a real delight. The music has a searching quality and clearly Martinu was ever evolving, even at this late date.