Small Storms - A Collection of Short Pieces by Bohuslav Martinu
Like many European composers alive during the World Wars, Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) was nomadic. But while most of these artists’ music changed drastically based on their location, Martinů’s compositional style consistently referenced the culture of his Czech heritage. SMALL STORMS – cellist Meredith Blecha-Wells’ debut record – contains Martinů’s duos for cello and piano from the latter half of his life, with the performances of Blecha-Wells and pianist Sun Min Kim fully embodying the folkloric sensibility and conservative style that typify the composer’s oeuvre.
Blecha-Wells’ beautiful playing is especially apt at capturing Martinů’s oft-celebrated gift for melody and lyricism. Consistent with his Romantic and Neoclassicist predilections, the works featured on SMALL STORMS come from genres originating in the nineteenth century, and, in some cases, even earlier. In her variations, nocturnes, and arabesques, the cellist looks not to redefine these time-tested genres, but instead personalizes their forms within the composer’s characteristic musical language.
Blecha-Wells’ rendition of Martinů’s Seven Arabesques for Cello and Piano and Nocturnes for Cello and Piano are emblematic examples of the composer’s mixture of the European Classical tradition, elements of his native Czech culture, and the influence of his contemporaries. “Adante,” the fourth movement of the Suite Miniature, works along these lines and sounds most heavily inspired by folk music. Conversely, “Adante Moderato” from Arabesque might be the most modernist, namely in its dissonance and use of irregular time signatures.
Throughout SMALL STORMS, the duo’s playing blends wonderfully, no matter a passage’s virtuosity or simplicity. It should come as no surprise that Martinů’s cello writing is highlighted in this recording – Blecha-Wells’ lyrical warmth and powerful athleticism triumphantly illustrate why the composer welcomed her instrument’s entire expressive continuum in his music.