Czech musicians win prestigious MIDEM award for best recording

Czech musicians scored a tremendous success at the MIDEM music fair in Cannes in France. Violinist Bohuslav Matousek and pianist Petr Adamec received the highest award in the category of 20th century chamber music, the 2001 Cannes Classical Award, for a recording featuring a complete work for violin and piano by Bohuslav Martinu. Alena Skodova reports.

No one really expected such a huge success. The renowned Czech violinist Bohuslav Matousek shared his feelings with reporters after learning that he'd won:

"It was really great to receive such a prize. It's tremendous support for the work we're planning for the future. It's a great feeling when you find out that all the hard work that we put into this recording wasn't in vain, that someone appreciated it."

Mr Matousek told me that it was quite a demanding task to find all Martinu's violin and piano pieces in the first place. Not all of them have become popular and there were some which had never been played before, which he only found by travelling from one archive to another. And how does pianist Petr Adamec feel as a fresh winner of the MIDEM award?

"I feel like I'm at home, because me and Bohuslav have been playing together regularly for nearly 40 years now. The conditions were not ideal: I was doing it while working full-time at the Academy of Music, where I teach piano. Bohuslav, too, was working hard on different projects. I think if it wasn't for the great advantage of having played together for so long, and understanding each other very quickly on each new composition, the result wouldn't have been so good."

Mr Adamec went on to say that he had been quite sceptical in the beginning and that he had even tried to talk his colleague out of the project, mainly because he thought such a recording would not sell well. Mr Matousek on the other hand had been more optimistic:

"I made a similar recording - Martinu's string quartets - with the Stamic Quartet some time ago. It was released in Germany and won a prestigious European award. So this time I said to myself that if we manage to make a really good violin and piano recording, we could certainly hope to win a prize. But I definitely didn't count on winning such an important award."

The initial scepticism turned out to be groundless. The Martinu set, containing four CDs offering 250 minutes of music, is now a best-seller one on the Czech classical music market.