CULTURE: MARTINU: Violin Concerto No 2/serenade No 2 for Strings/Toccatae Due Canzone. Isabelle Faust/Cedric Tiberghien/Jiri Belohlavek, Prague Philharmonia (Harmonia Mundi).****

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Byline: Terry Grimley

Despite being expelled from the Prague Conservatoire for "incorrigible negligence", Bohuslav Martinu went on to become a violinist in the Czech Philharmonic and one of the 20th century's most prolific composers.

He spent much of his life in exile, first in Paris and later in America, where possibly his unlikeliest composition pupil was Burt Bacharach.

His music has never really clicked with the British public, and a problem is that he wrote a vast amount of music - around 400 works - without always waiting for inspiration. But at his best he was capable of writing a radiant masterpiece like The Frescoes of Piero della Francesca.

Martinu's profile is currently on the up because next year marks the 50th anniversary of his death, and the CD racks are already beginning to bulge with new releases.

What makes this one particularly attractive for Martinu beginners is that it is so readily digestible, with an attractive menu which places the fresh, miniature string serenade, seemingly played by a very small ensemble, like a sorbet between the postromantic Violin Concerto and the Toccata. …