Naxos continues their impressive series of Martinů chamber music with this immensely rewarding disc of one of Martinu's indubitable masterpieces, coupled with two rewarding but less well-known works. The masterpiece in question is of course the second piano quintet, dating from 1944. It is immediately recognizable as Martinů (more accurately the Martinů of the middle symphonies) with the appealing blend of impressionism and sleekly elegant neo-classicism. Sporting wonderfully, almost dream-like melodies, the first movement is one of Martinů's most appealing creations, and the following Adagio is one of his most memorable slow movements. The finale, with its juxtapositions of buoyant and busy fast parts with lyrically reflective slow tempos is utterly unforgettable as well; in short, the piano quintet is one of the true masterpieces of the medium and should be known by any music lover.
The first quintet, from 1933, is - although recognizably Martinů - rather different in terms of his treatment of the material. More neo-baroque in style, the music is slightly more craggy and abrasive and the work sounds more like a concertante work for the piano - with the piano set in discursive opposition to a more unified string group. The melodies and figures are overall less memorable than those of the successor, but it is still a very appealing work. More or less the same applies to the playful and somewhat unpredictable Sonata for two violins and piano; overall an entertaining but hardly profound work with a great deal of charm. (GD) Enjoy.