Classics Today 10/10; Gramophone: outstanding; BBC Music Magazine: outstanding.
Without ever having received any formal training, Swiss-born composer Frank Martin (1890-1973) spent a long time developing a style which, from his breakthrough in 1942, would make him a highly respected international figure. As the legendary pianist Paul Badura-Skoda put it: ‘Many great works of this century are admired; few have the privilege of being loved. Frank Martin created works which are both admired and loved.’ On the present disc the works in question are his Cello Concerto, the Ballade for cello (in the version with piano) and the 8 Preludes for piano.
On two previous discs Christian Poltéra has presented works for the cello by composers from his native Switzerland. The latest of these, dedicated to the music of Honegger, was recently released and has already received high praise, for instance on web site Classics Today.com, whose reviewer wrote: ‘If you want a superb collection of Honegger's music for cello, both chamber and orchestral, then this CD is just the ticket… a terrific way to plug what is probably a serious repertoire gap in your collection.’ It has also received a Diapason d’or in the French magazine Diapason, which called it ‘une pure merveille’. Its predecessor, BIS-CD-1597, featured works by the less well-known composer Othmar Schoeck. Upon its release this disc met with a similar reception, for instance from the critic of the Bayerischer Rundfunk, who described Poltéra as ‘an imaginative “singer on the cello” with an astounding virtuosity at his disposal’.
As on previous discs in Poltéra’s ‘Swiss trilogy’, he is again supported by Malmö SO under Tuomas Ollila-Hannikainen (in the Concerto) and by eminent pianist Kathryn Stott, who also shines in the Preludes for piano solo, a fascinating display of Martin’s broad variety of expression and techniques.