- Les Rondes, for oboe, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, 2 violins & piano, H. 200
- Esquisses (3) on Modern Dances for piano, H. 160
- Serenade No. 3 for oboe, clarinet, 4 violins & cello, H. 218
- Intermezzo for violin & piano, H. 261
- Merry Christmas 1941, for piano
- Variations on a Slovak Folksong for cello & piano, H. 378
- Sonatina for violin & piano, H. 262: Andante
Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu may have been the Haydn of the 20th century. Both were superb and prolific craftsmen whose music is full of wit yet capable of great seriousness and always a delight to the ear. This program of solo and chamber works shows the immense range of Martinu's stylistic palette. "Les Rondes," a suite of six brief sketches, has spiky rhythms that owe a debt to Stravinsky, but the folksy flavor is pure Martinu. Check out the fifth movement, where a gorgeous oboe melody is accompanied by a piano imitating the twang of the cimbalom (a Hungarian hammered dulcimer). "Trois Esquisses," a set of three piano pieces, reflects Martinu's interest in jazz, with a final movement that sparkles as deliriously as a solo by Fats Waller. The disc also features Martinu's final chamber work, a craggy set of Variations on a melancholy Slovak folk tune for cello and piano; this poignant expression of homesickness was written in 1959, when the composer was living in Switzerland during the height of the Cold War. The performances by the Bohemian Ensemble of Los Angeles are stylish and full of life. Some might look askance at a full-price CD that offers just 50 minutes playing time, but with music and music-making of this quality, it's still a great deal.