Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Bohuslav Martinů - The Parables; Estampes; Overture; Rhapsody (Jiří Bělohlávek)


Information

Composer: Bohuslav Martinů
  1. The Parables for orchestra, H. 367: I. The Parable of a Sculpture (Andante pastorale)
  2. The Parables for orchestra, H. 367: II. The Parable of a Garden (Poco moderato)
  3. The Parables for orchestra, H. 367: III. The Parable of a Navire (Poco Allegro)
  4. Estampes for large orchestra, H. 369: I. Andante
  5. Estampes for large orchestra, H. 369: II. Adagio
  6. Estampes for large orchestra, H. 369: III. Poco Allegro
  7. Overture for orchestra, H. 345
  8. Rhapsody - Allegro symphonique for orchestra, H. 171

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Jiří Bělohlávek, conductor
Date: 1987
Label: Supraphon


----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

As a window on Martinu's world, few discs in my experience have offered a better vantage point. From La rhapsodie of 1928—a premature vision of free Czechoslovakia, determined, confident, full of patriotic trumpeting and solemn military drums—to the recently published, virtually unknown, Overture of 1953, revelling contentedly as it does in Martinu's beloved baroque: all bracing counterpoint, arpeggiating solo violin, and the beginnings of a chorale (oboe) at its heart. And thence to the real substance of the disc: The parables and Estampes—consecutive fruits of Martinu's last two years.

There is no richer or more accessible Martinu than the Martinu of The parables. After the Frescoes of Piero della Francesca of 1953, here are three more of his own, begun in 1957 in Italy and infused with that land's luxuriance and the echoes of ancient airs. The opening horns, richly harmonized with underlying bassoons (''The parable of a sculpture''), don't immediately spell Martinu (theirs is a biblical mystique—biblical in the most romantic sense—ancient stones with tales to tell), but excitable percussion and aspiring strings soon swing us into a main subject which leaves one in no doubt as to the hand at work. The energy, the exultancy of Martinu in full syncopated advance is as compelling as ever, the percussion and harp writing unusually felicitous, not least in ''The parable of a garden'' where those ancient airs emerge from much fragrant woodwind warbling. I smell the scent of Respighi's Italy in these pages, and again in the mythical journey of the final parable, ''The parable of a Navire'', where the ethnic melodies are well to the fore—one, introduced by serenading bassoon with lute-like harp in attendance, is especially captivating.

Estampes followed hard on the heels of The parables in composition. It too is richly, intricately woven, but of a sparer and more fragmentary design—much less 'formed', of a more dream-like complexion, as if a lifetime's images were drifting in and out of clouded memory. Disemboided marimba, harp and piano lend that characteristic Martinu strangeness to the orchestral colourations; the familiar lamentations and affirmations come and go, like innocence and hope continually lost and regained. All these pieces are most gratefully attended by Belohlavek and his wonderful Czech players. They read Martinu's mind and heart with their very own characteristic honesty, and Supraphon have captured it all in sound which combines a generous sense of perspective with an immediacy vital to the rhythmic and textural intricacies. For Martinu acolytes and agnostics alike.

-- Edward Seckerson, Gramophone

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bohuslav Martinů (December 8, 1890 – August 28, 1959) was a Czech composer of modern classical music. In the early 1930s he found his main font for compositional style, the neo-classical as developed by Stravinsky. With this, he expanded to become a prolific composer, who wrote almost 400 pieces, included 6 symphonies, 15 operas, 14 ballet scores and a large body of orchestral, chamber, vocal and instrumental works. He is compared with Prokofiev and Bartók in his innovative incorporation of Central European ethnomusicology into his music.

***

Jiří Bělohlávek (born 24 February 1946) is a Czech conductor. He was a graduate of the Prague Conservatory and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, and later studied conducting, for two years, with Sergiu Celibidache. He was chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic from 1990 to 1992 and has hold the post since 2012. He was also the founder of the Prague Philharmonia. Bělohlávek has made recordings for the Supraphon, Chandos, Harmonia Mundi, Warner Classics and Deutsche Grammophon record labels.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Bohuslav Martinů - Échec au Roi; The Revolt (Jiří Bělohlávek)


Information

Composer: Bohuslav Martinů
  1. Échec au Roi (Šach králi; Check to the King), jazz-ballet, H. 186: Pas-de-trois clownesque (Allegro vivo)
  2. Échec au Roi (Šach králi; Check to the King), jazz-ballet, H. 186: Pas des Cavaliers. (Poco allegro)
  3. Échec au Roi (Šach králi; Check to the King), jazz-ballet, H. 186: Danse des Fous (Moderato)
  4. Échec au Roi (Šach králi; Check to the King), jazz-ballet, H. 186: Danse des Tours (Allegro marcia)
  5. Échec au Roi (Šach králi; Check to the King), jazz-ballet, H. 186: Solo des Reines (Valse-Boston)
  6. Échec au Roi (Šach králi; Check to the King), jazz-ballet, H. 186: Le Défi (Allegro)
  7. Échec au Roi (Šach králi; Check to the King), jazz-ballet, H. 186: Ouverture espagnole (Allegro)
  8. Échec au Roi (Šach králi; Check to the King), jazz-ballet, H. 186: La partie d'échecs (Allegro moderato)
  9. Échec au Roi (Šach králi; Check to the King), jazz-ballet, H. 186: Blues (Tempo di blues)
  10. Échec au Roi (Šach králi; Check to the King), jazz-ballet, H. 186: Échec et mat (Allegro)
  11. Échec au Roi (Šach králi; Check to the King), jazz-ballet, H. 186: Finale (Allegro vivo)
  12. Vzpoura (The Revolt), ballet-sketch, H. 151: Dance of the Birds (Moderato)
  13. Vzpoura (The Revolt), ballet-sketch, H. 151: Dance of the Mice (Tempo di valse)
  14. Vzpoura (The Revolt), ballet-sketch, H. 151: Nightclub Dance (Andante moderato)
  15. Vzpoura (The Revolt), ballet-sketch, H. 151: Street Singers
  16. Vzpoura (The Revolt), ballet-sketch, H. 151: Music Hall (Andante moderato)
  17. Vzpoura (The Revolt), ballet-sketch, H. 151: In the Nightclub (Foxtrot)
  18. Vzpoura (The Revolt), ballet-sketch, H. 151: Finale (Allegro moderato)

Vladimír Olexa, speaker (2, 4, 6, 7, 10)
Kateřina Kachlíková, alto (5)
Prague Symphony Orchestra
Jiří Bělohlávek, conductor
Date: 1987
Label: Supraphon
https://www.discogs.com/Bohuslav-Martin%C5%AF-Prague-Symphony-Orchestra-The-Ji%C5%99%C3%AD-B%C4%9Blohl%C3%A1vek-%C3%89chec-Au-Roi-The-Revolt-Ballets/release/3275494


----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

"... it was the urban sophisticate who turned this sharp ear upon the music he heard in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s for the two ballets on the second record. Echec au Roi (1930) brings onto a single games board pieces from chess, dominoes and backgammon as well as playing cards. The libretto by Andre Coeuroy, a respected author and critic, allows Martinu plenty of scope for jazzy pastiche: there is a blues, plenty of jazz, quotations of fanfares, and an ouverture espagnole that is not so much a Spanish Overture as an allusion to the Ruy Lopez opening in chess. The Revolt (1925) is to a text by the composer. The revolt in question is by notes-black and white, high and low-which have been abused. The action is pretty surreal, and ends in a call for a general strike which brings out conservatories and instrument makers, drives critics to suicide and Stravinsky off to a Pacific island. There is plenty of occasion for pastiche again, pleasantly in a Night Club scene and a Music Hall foxtrot. Matters are returned to normal by Inspiration. It is all very smart."

-- John Warrack, Gramophone

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bohuslav Martinů (December 8, 1890 – August 28, 1959) was a Czech composer of modern classical music. In the early 1930s he found his main font for compositional style, the neo-classical as developed by Stravinsky. With this, he expanded to become a prolific composer, who wrote almost 400 pieces, included 6 symphonies, 15 operas, 14 ballet scores and a large body of orchestral, chamber, vocal and instrumental works. He is compared with Prokofiev and Bartók in his innovative incorporation of Central European ethnomusicology into his music.

***

Jiří Bělohlávek (born 24 February 1946) is a Czech conductor. He was a graduate of the Prague Conservatory and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, and later studied conducting, for two years, with Sergiu Celibidache. He was chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic from 1990 to 1992 and has hold the post since 2012. He was also the founder of the Prague Philharmonia. Bělohlávek has made recordings for the Supraphon, Chandos, Harmonia Mundi, Warner Classics and Deutsche Grammophon record labels.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Bohuslav Martinů - The Butterfly That Stamped (Jiří Bělohlávek)


Information

Composer: Bohuslav Martinů
  1. The Butterfly That Stamped, ballet in one act after Rudyard Kipling: Overture
  2. The Butterfly That Stamped, ballet in one act after Rudyard Kipling: In front of Suleiman's Palace
  3. The Butterfly That Stamped, ballet in one act after Rudyard Kipling: The Dance before Suleiman and his Wives
  4. The Butterfly That Stamped, ballet in one act after Rudyard Kipling: The Quarrelsome Queens
  5. The Butterfly That Stamped, ballet in one act after Rudyard Kipling: The Dance of the Butterflies
  6. The Butterfly That Stamped, ballet in one act after Rudyard Kipling: The Dance of the Butterflies and Flowers
  7. The Butterfly That Stamped, ballet in one act after Rudyard Kipling: The Dance of the Butterflies (assembly)
  8. The Butterfly That Stamped, ballet in one act after Rudyard Kipling: Finale

Female chorus of the Kühn Mixed Chorus; Pavel Kühn, chorus master
Prague Symphony Orchestra
Jiří Bělohlávek, conductor
Date: 1986
Label: Supraphon
https://www.discogs.com/Martin%C5%AFPrague-Symphony-Orchestra-Ji%C5%99%C3%AD-B%C4%9Blohl%C3%A1vek-Mot%C3%BDl-Kter%C3%BD-Dupal-The-Butterfly-That-Stamped/release/3277083

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

This is gorgeous music. The ballet, inspired by a Rudyard Kipling story, is one of those luscious, Arabian Nights sort of deals, and Bohuslav Martinu has fashioned a stunning sounding score that manages to sound exotic and oriental without ever once recalling Rimsky-Korsakov or the whole Russian school. In fact, though it was composed in the early decades of this century, the music most resembles the soundtrack to the movie Stargate. There's a particularly colorful and evocative use of wordless female chorus at the opening--an effect that's unforgettable. About 40 minutes in length, this is a highly enjoyable ballet discovery.

-- David Hurwitz


----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bohuslav Martinů (December 8, 1890 – August 28, 1959) was a Czech composer of modern classical music. In the early 1930s he found his main font for compositional style, the neo-classical as developed by Stravinsky. With this, he expanded to become a prolific composer, who wrote almost 400 pieces, included 6 symphonies, 15 operas, 14 ballet scores and a large body of orchestral, chamber, vocal and instrumental works. He is compared with Prokofiev and Bartók in his innovative incorporation of Central European ethnomusicology into his music.

***

Jiří Bělohlávek (born 24 February 1946) is a Czech conductor. He was a graduate of the Prague Conservatory and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, and later studied conducting, for two years, with Sergiu Celibidache. He was chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic from 1990 to 1992 and has hold the post since 2012. He was also the founder of the Prague Philharmonia. Bělohlávek has made recordings for the Supraphon, Chandos, Harmonia Mundi, Warner Classics and Deutsche Grammophon record labels.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Bohuslav Martinů - Špalíček (František Jílek)


Information

Composer: Bohuslav Martinů

CD1:
  • (01) Spalícek, ballet, H. 214: Opening
  • (02-21) Spalícek, ballet, H. 214: Act I
  • (22-41) Spalícek, ballet, H. 214: Act II
  • (42-45) Spalícek, ballet, H. 214: Act III
CD2:
  • (01-09) Spalícek, ballet, H. 214: Act III (continued)
  • (10) The Spectre's Bride, ballad based on Karel Jaromír Erben's poem, H. 214 I
  • (11) The Romance of the Dandelions, cantata, H. 364
  • (12-16) The Primrose, five duets on texts of Moravia folk songs, H. 348

* Anna Kratochvílová, soprano; Miroslav Kopp, tenor; Richard Novák, bass; Kantiléna Children's Chorus; Jan Sedláček, chorus master; Kühn Female Chorus; Pavel Kühn, chorus master; Brno Philharmonic Orchestra; František Jílek, conductor (H. 214)
* Jiřina Marková, soprano; Miroslav Kopp, tenor; Pavel Horáček, bass; Kühn Mixed Chorus; Pavel Kühn, chorus master; Prague Symphony Orchestra; Jiří Bělohlávek, conductor (H. 214 I)
* Milada Čejková; Kühn Mixed Chorus; Pavel Kühn, chorus master (H. 364)
* Petr Messiereur; Stanislav Bogunia; Kühn Female Chorus; Pavel Kühn, chorus master (H. 348)

Date: 1988 (H. 214, H. 364 & H. 348), 1985 (H. 214 I)
Label: Supraphon
http://www.supraphon.com/album/2523-martinu-spalicek-the-spectre-s-bride-romance-of-the-dandelio


----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

ARTISTIC QUALITY: 10 / SOUND QUALITY: 9

This is a recoupling made even more desirable than on its original issue by the inclusion of The Specter’s Bride, Martinu’s retelling of the same story set by Dvorák about a young girl who runs away with her dead lover’s ghost, only to be rescued at the last minute from the cemetery by the arrival of dawn. It’s a wonderful piece, as fine in its own way as Dvorák’s setting, and, at half an hour, much shorter. Including it in this two-disc set makes a perfect program organized around settings of Czech folk poetry, the Dandelion Romance and The Primrose being two much shorter but very charming further examples.

The main attraction, however, is Špalícek, a ballet with songs in which each of the three acts incorporates the telling of a fairy tale, enhanced by plenty of additional dancing and commentary framing the main stories. The music is invariably appealing and rhythmically vivacious, Martinu in his most bubbly folk/neo-classical mode–and if you enjoy the suite (recorded by Mackerras on Conifer) then you will surely find the complete work equally enchanting.

All of the performances here are excellent in every respect. None of the soloists, save bass Richard Novák, are at all well known, but it doesn’t matter a bit, while the conductors are veterans who can be counted on to deliver consistently idiomatic and persuasive results. Given the wide variety of forces–from full orchestra with chorus and soloists in The Specter’s Bride and Špalícek to solo violin, piano, and a small group of sopranos and altos in The Primrose–the engineering is quite good. A major Martinu release, for sure. [4/11/2008]

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

More reviews:
http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/martinu-spalicek-etc
http://www.classical.net/music/recs/reviews/s/spr10752a.php
https://www.amazon.com/Martinu-Spalicek-Spectres-Dandelions-Primrose/dp/B000VX1QFO

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bohuslav Martinů (December 8, 1890 – August 28, 1959) was a Czech composer of modern classical music. In the early 1930s he found his main font for compositional style, the neo-classical as developed by Stravinsky. With this, he expanded to become a prolific composer, who wrote almost 400 pieces, included 6 symphonies, 15 operas, 14 ballet scores and a large body of orchestral, chamber, vocal and instrumental works. He is compared with Prokofiev and Bartók in his innovative incorporation of Central European ethnomusicology into his music.

***

František Jílek (May 22, 1913 – September 16, 1993) was a Czech conductor, known especially for his interpretation of Leoš Janáček's works. In 1952, he became the principal conductor of Janáček´s opera in Brno, a position he held for 25 years. In 1978, he became the conductor of the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra. The recordings of his interpretations of Janáček's, Novák's and Martinů's work are available on the Czech label Supraphon.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Bohuslav Martinů - Le Raid merveilleux; La Revue de Cuisine; On Tourne (Christopher Hogwood)


Information

Composer: Bohuslav Martinů
  • (01-05) Le Raid merveilleux (The Amazing Flight), mechanical ballet, H. 159
  • (06-15) La Revue de Cuisine (The Kitchen Revue), jazz-ballet, H. 161
  • (16-23) On Tourne, ballet, H. 163

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Christopher Hogwood, conductor
Dates: 2003 (H. 159 & H. 163), 2004 (H. 161)
Label: Supraphon
http://www.supraphon.com/album/1414-martinu-le-raid-merveilleux-la-revue-de-cuisine-on-tourne


------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

ARTISTIC QUALITY: 10 / SOUND QUALITY: 10

Christopher Hogwood really does have an affinity for Martinu's busy, neo-Baroque music, letting it bustle and sing with unaffected charm and plenty of energy. The novelty here for many collectors will be the first complete recording of Le Revue de cuisine, the full score of which was only discovered in the 1990s. In addition to the familiar suite, there are a couple of interludes and a funeral march that taken together extend the length of the work by several minutes. Of course none of that would matter if this performance weren't terrific, but it has all of the gusto and humor that Martinu wrote into the music, with an especially delicious romp through the Charleston. The members of the Czech Philharmonic, particularly clarinetist Tomás Kopácek, sound fabulous, and pianist Daniel Wiesner is pretty hot stuff too.

Le Raid merveilleux, subtitled "ballet mécanique", describes the failed attempt of two French aviators to fly across the Atlantic just weeks before Lindberg succeeded from the opposite direction. The music alternates evocative machine sounds with some surprisingly sweet, lyrical passages (the final representation of the sea, for example). On tourne! (Roll the Cameras!) is a puppet ballet lasting nearly half an hour involving a diver and various sea creatures in various cartoonish adventures. The music has unflagging energy and charm, coming straight from Martinu's bubbliest theatrical vein. Bits of it have been recorded before, but I believe this is the premiere of the complete work, and it should earn the friendship of the composer's fans everywhere. It's a delight, as are these performances, very vividly recorded, even if the sound is a touch reverberant at loud moments. An important and (best of all) extremely enjoyable addition to the Martinu discography. [7/9/2004]

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

More reviews:

------------------------------------------------------------------

Bohuslav Martinů (December 8, 1890 – August 28, 1959) was a Czech composer of modern classical music. In the early 1930s he found his main font for compositional style, the neo-classical as developed by Stravinsky. With this, he expanded to become a prolific composer, who wrote almost 400 pieces, included 6 symphonies, 15 operas, 14 ballet scores and a large body of orchestral, chamber, vocal and instrumental works. He is compared with Prokofiev and Bartók in his innovative incorporation of Central European ethnomusicology into his music.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohuslav_Martin%C5%AF

***

Christopher Hogwood (10 September 1941 – 24 September 2014) was an English conductor, harpsichordist, writer, and musicologist. Founder of the early music ensemble the Academy of Ancient Music (1973), he was an authority on historically informed performance and a leading figure in the early music revival of the late 20th century. Although best known for the baroque and early classical repertoire, he also performed contemporary music, with a particular affinity for the neo-baroque and neoclassical schools including many works by Stravinsky, Martinů and Hindemith.

------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Bohuslav Martinů - Sinfonietta La Jolla; Toccata e Due Cazoni; Concerto Grosso (Ondřej Kukal)


Information

Composer: Bohuslav Martinů
  1. Sinfonietta La Jolla, H. 328: I. Poco allergo
  2. Sinfonietta La Jolla, H. 328: II. Largo - Andante moderato
  3. Sinfonietta La Jolla, H. 328: III. Allergo
  4. Toccata e Due Canzoni, H. 311: I. Toccata. Allegro moderato
  5. Toccata e Due Canzoni, H. 311: II. Canzone No. 1. Andante moderato
  6. Toccata e Due Canzoni, H. 311: III. Canzone No. 2. Allegro (poco) - Adagio
  7. Concerto Grosso, H. 263: I. Allegro ma non troppo
  8. Concerto Grosso, H. 263: II. Adagio
  9. Concerto Grosso, H. 263: III. Allegretto

Josef Hála, piano
Petr Jiříkovský, piano (7-9)
Prague Chamber Orchestra
Ondřej Kukal, violin & conductor
Date: 1997
Label: Supraphon
http://www.supraphon.com/album/1382-martinu-sinfonietta-la-jolla-toccata-e-due-canzoni-concerto


-------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

ARTISTIC QUALITY: 10 / SOUND QUALITY: 10

This splendid disc was originally released on the Panton label, but happily reappears here on Supraphon. The fact that the conductorless Prague Chamber Orchestra can play this rhythmically tricky music with such confidence bespeaks long familiarity with Martinu's personal idiom. These are, one and all, fabulous pieces, particularly the Toccata e due canzone, a masterwork if ever there was one, and a much darker and more emotionally draining essay than the neo-baroque title might suggest.

Here's the bottom line: these are simply the finest versions of all three works. Tempos are lively, balances true, those long, syncopated, lyrical cantilenas in the first movements of the Tocatta and Sinfonietta soar as if self-propelled. No detail of Martinu's ceaselessly inventive orchestration passes unobserved, and his busy rhythms and obsessive ostinatos never turn mechanical (a potential issue in the Concerto Grosso especially). As usual, the Czech woodwinds (oboes especially) are a joy, and pianist Josef Hála plays delightfully in all three pieces. Excellent sonics offer an ideal combination of warmth and clarity. It doesn't get any better than this.

-- David HurwitzClassicsToday

More reviews:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2009/Jan09/Martinu_Jolla_su39582.htm
http://www.allmusic.com/album/martinu-sinfonietta-la-jolla-toccata-e-due-canzoni-concerto-grosso-mw0001835345
http://www.amazon.com/Jolla-Toccata-Concerto-B-Martinu/dp/B001JCZXW8

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Bohuslav Martinů (December 8, 1890 – August 28, 1959) was a Czech composer of modern classical music. In the early 1930s he found his main font for compositional style, the neo-classical as developed by Stravinsky. With this, he expanded to become a prolific composer, who wrote almost 400 pieces, included 6 symphonies, 15 operas, 14 ballet scores and a large body of orchestral, chamber, vocal and instrumental works. He is compared with Prokofiev and Bartók in his innovative incorporation of Central European ethnomusicology into his music.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohuslav_Martin%C5%AF

***

Ondřej Kukal (born 14 August 1964 in Prague)is a contemporary Czech conductor, violinist and composer. From 1979–1985 he studied the violin at the Prague Conservatory. In 1996 he accepted the position of concertmaster of the Prague Chamber Orchestra. Since 2002 Ondřej Kukal has been a chief conductor of the Hradec Králové Philharmonic Orchestra. He has been a regular guest of leading Czech orchestras.
https://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ond%C5%99ej_Kukal
http://www.fhk.cz/en/42/Conductor/

-------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Link in comment
Enjoy!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Bohuslav Martinů - The Epic of Gilgamesh (Jiří Bělohlávek)


Information

Composer: Bohuslav Martinů
  1. The Epic of Gilgamesh, oratorio, H. 351: Gilgamesh (Tablets 1, 2)
  2. The Epic of Gilgamesh, oratorio, H. 351: The Death of Enkidu (Tablets 7, 8, 10)
  3. The Epic of Gilgamesh, oratorio, H. 351: Invocation (Tablet 12)

Marcela Machotková, soprano
Jiří Zahradníček, tenor
Václav Zítek, baritone
Karel Průša, bass
Otakar Brousek,speaker
Prague Philharmonic Choir; Josef Veselka, chorus master
Prague Symphony Orchestra
Jiří Bělohlávek, conductor

Date: 1976
Label: Supraphon
http://www.supraphon.com/album/1503-martinu-the-epic-of-gilgamesh


----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

Martinu’s major vocal compositions, operas and oratorios, had a way of confounding expectations. The Epic of Gilgamesh , completed in 1955, was in many ways the exact opposite of a work composed around the same time, Mirandolina . While the latter was a typical Goldoni comedy of situation, the former was a work that considered timeless verities of the human condition: the nature of friendship and death. Recitative sufficed for Mirandolina , but Gilgamesh , with its mix of modally based orchestral themes, long-spanned rhythmic ostinatos, and phrases chanted by a bass soloist on a single note, sounds at times like a Martinu transmutation of Eastern Orthodox sacred services. It is a powerful work, deftly drawing upon three sections from the neo-Assyrian redaction of this sprawling and fragmentary religious cycle. From the expansive vision of creation, youth, and energy in the first section, “Gilgamesh,” it turns with restraint to the pathos of “The Death of Enkidu,” then to the alternately forceful and chill ritualistic summons and questioning of Enkidu’s spirit in “Invocation.” 

I know of two currently available versions of The Epic of Gilgamesh . Both have been in circulation before. The one that features Zdenek Kosler leading the forces of the Slovak Philharmonic, now on Naxos 8.555138, originally appeared on Marco Polo back in the early 1990s. The one under review is a reissue from 1976. Of the two, Kosler is faster and, I find, a bit less atmospheric than Belohlávek. There is sometimes a sense of impatience in Kosler’s reading, especially in the “Invocation” movement, as though he found some of the pages less successful than others. I would agree with this, but only if those pages are rushed. Taken in context as Belohlávek does, the entire oratorio has an overwhelming effect. He is helped by the Prague SO, which is a fresher sounding, better-blended orchestra than the Slovak Philharmonic. 

Among the singers, Jirí Zahradnícek’s dry, hard-sounding timbre makes him a less attractive Enkidu than Stefan Margita (Kosler). I have a slight preference for Marcela Machotková over Eva Depoltová (Kosler), given the narrow vibrato and refined dynamics of the former. Depoltová sings well, but with less attention to the words. Milan Karpisek (Kosler) offers a more riveting speaker than Otakar Brousek. Elsewhere, the performers are roughly even. Naxos balances its recording well, chorus supporting the orchestra, soloists a bit in front of both. Supraphon’s analog sound is also quite good, with the orchestra richer, and the speaker unfortunately superimposed upon the proceedings in a fashion that recalls voice-overs. Supraphon’s resonance seems to me more appropriate for this piece than that of Naxos, which dulls the musical edge slightly through too large a hall sound. 

In short, the choice is yours. Both versions are good, though I’d give the nod to the more thoughtful Belohlávek. 

-- Barry Brenesal, FANFARE

More reviews:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Martinu-Epic-Gilgamesh-Prague-SO/dp/B000PFU8KW
https://www.amazon.com/Epic-Gilgamesh-DVO-ÁK-ANTONIN/dp/B000PFU8KW

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bohuslav Martinů (December 8, 1890 – August 28, 1959) was a Czech composer of modern classical music. In the early 1930s he found his main font for compositional style, the neo-classical as developed by Stravinsky. With this, he expanded to become a prolific composer, who wrote almost 400 pieces, included 6 symphonies, 15 operas, 14 ballet scores and a large body of orchestral, chamber, vocal and instrumental works. He is compared with Prokofiev and Bartók in his innovative incorporation of Central European ethnomusicology into his music.

***

Jiří Bělohlávek (born 24 February 1946) is a Czech conductor. He was a graduate of the Prague Conservatory and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, and later studied conducting, for two years, with Sergiu Celibidache. He was chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic from 1990 to 1992 and has hold the post since 2012. He was also the founder of the Prague Philharmonia. Bělohlávek has made recordings for the Supraphon, Chandos, Harmonia Mundi, Warner Classics and Deutsche Grammophon record labels.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Bohuslav Martinů - Field Mass; Double Concerto; Les Fresques de Piero della Francesca (Charles Mackerras)


Information

Composer: Bohuslav Martinů
  1. Field Mass, for male chorus with baritone solo & orchestra, H. 279
  2. Double Concerto for 2 string orchestras, piano & timpani, H. 271: I. Poco allegro
  3. Double Concerto for 2 string orchestras, piano & timpani, H. 271: II. Largo
  4. Double Concerto for 2 string orchestras, piano & timpani, H. 271: III. Allegro
  5. Les Fresques de Piero della Francesca, H. 352: I. Andante poco moderato
  6. Les Fresques de Piero della Francesca, H. 352: II. Adagio
  7. Les Fresques de Piero della Francesca, H. 352: III. Poco allegro
  8. Juliette (The Key to Dreams), suite from the opera, H 253b: I. Poco andante
  9. Juliette (The Key to Dreams), suite from the opera, H 253b: II. Vivo
  10. Juliette (The Key to Dreams), suite from the opera, H 253b: III. Lento

Václav Zítek, baritone (1)
Josef Růžička, piano (2-4)
Jan Bouše, timpani (2-4)
Prague Philharmonic Choir, chorus master Lubomír Mátl (1)
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra (1, 8-10)
Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra (2-7)
Charles Mackerras, conductor

Dates: 1982 (2-7), 1984 (1), 2008 (8-10)
Label: Supraphon
http://www.supraphon.com/album/507-martinu-field-mass-double-concerto-les-fresques-de-piero-del


-------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

Charles Mackerras has long been a devoted friend of Czech music. I remember that Pye LP of Mackerras conducting Janáček'sSinfoniettawith a selection of the operatic preludes.The Pye cover had a photograph the sixteen trumpeters deployed across the full breadth of the orchestra. This was at a time when Janáček had hardly any profile in the UK and where, in the fame stakes, Martinů probably ranked slightly higher. The balancehas shifted since then withTaras,Sinfonietta, theGlagolytic Massand above all the operas having secured a far warmer place in the sun for Janáček than that accorded to Martinů.

On this disc Martinů's most recorded work rubs shoulders with two slightlylesser known pieces. The Double Concerto (to be distinguished from his other double concerto for violin, piano and orchestra - curiously neglected on CD) has an oppressive claustrophobic atmosphere as well as a ferocious release of adrenalin. This is a work that is predictive of the same explosion of dynamic interest, cross-rhythms and melodic profusion that we associate with his American years (early 1940s onwards). I am not sure I can easily find a parallel for this supercharged pressure. The closest I can point to is the Bax Second Symphony (from the early 1920s) where the composer conjures a bass-heavy murmur that has you staring down into a colossal tempestuously wheeling whirlpool.

Sejna’s Martinů Double Concerto (on a still available Supraphon coupled with an abysmal sounding Martinů Third Symphony) has always been a connoisseurs’ choice however he is not without competition. The Supraphon sound is coarse textured but very strong and close - somehow fitting for a work that sounds a little like theTallis Fantasiaon speed and laced with cordite, grief and tragedy. The piano acts as a centre-stage orator intensifying and explaining. The Sejna sound amplifies the sense of cataclysm and stalking hysteria. Mackerras on a modern sounding Conifer CDCF210 is a strong contender though ‘his’ piano is made to sound like a rather pebbly pianola much improved on the disc under current consideration. The Conifer Brno State PO is lean with whip-sharp reflexes and just the right acidic aggression. Amongst the other competition the most colossal is the Bělohlávek on Chandos CHAN8950. Macura, on a difficult to locate Panton 81 1204-20111, is big on impact without Bělohlávek’s blessing of Chandos luxury sound. My how he taps the anguish and hysteria in this score! The DePreist BIS version, audio-technically speaking, is ennervatingly distanced and I could not recommend it. Conlon’s take on the work (on an Ultima double) is well worth exploring. His controlled interleaved waves of string-sound in theLargohold you in the cup of his hand though I suppose some may find it mannered. Conlon’s French orchestra is not quite the luxury vehicle enjoyed by Bělohlávek or by Mackerras in this latest Supraphon. None of these versions is poor as an interpretation. The DePreist can be eliminated only because the recording lacks close-up grip though, ironically, it is probably the most representative of a concertexperience in a big hall with the listener sitting in ‘the Gods’. The Conlon stays with me because of his memorable way with theLargo. Go for the Chandos for an excellent interpretation in gold bullion sound. The Macura (stereo) and the Sejna (historic mono) are older and are well worth considering. Some of you will have learnt your first Martinů through the Sejna LP and need have no reservations about returning to it now. Mackerras gives the most intense performance - little to choose between the two on character. Truth to tell you cannot really go wrong with any of these though I do urge caution with the BIS.

Double Concerto I II III

Mackerras (Supraphon) 6.22 8.29 6.41

Mackerras (Conifer) 6.25 8.21 6.59

Sejna (Supraphon) 6.25 8.40 7.01

DePreist (BIS) 6.39 8.09 6.28

Bělohlávek (Chandos) 6.42 8.14 6.45

Macura (Panton) 6.54 8.24 6.54

TheField Massis, broadly speaking, contemporaneous with the Double Concerto. The work was written in Paris with the war two months old, written in the bow-wave of the Blitzkrieg that saw old Europe's walls pulverised. Truth to tell it is not melodically the most striking of Martinů's inspirations. A Prom performance a couple of years back left me completely unmoved. However it has a striking sound-world all its own as men's voices are ranged with and against wind, percussion, piano and harmonium. Perhaps this is a credible battlefield instrumentation. There is a touch of nostalgia for pastoral and civic homelands but the determination and dedication to conflict are what rises most readily from this performance. To the best of my knowledge there are currently no alternative recordings.

Finally we come to a work whose vivid painterly qualities match adroitly the subject matter: theFrescos of Piero della Francesca. Most of us long-timeMartinů hunters will have first heard the piece as the coupling with Turnovsky's version of the Fourth Symphony. This was on a 1960s Supraphon LP. It is a late work from 1954 and its drench of colour in motion has its counterpart in the artwork of that Orphic Robin Williams film of a couple of years back There are no hard edges so it cannot entirely be a mosaic kaleidoscope. Rather it is a melting river of colours in constant flux. The three movements represent an active meditation on the wall paintings of Piero della Francesca in Arezzo in Italy. It is extremely well done by both Supraphon and Mackerras.

The notes are good and are well translated and designed. Full texts and translations are given. All around a quality product. A more impressively recorded, imagined and executed introduction would be difficult conceive.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb Internation


-------------------------------------------------------------------

Bohuslav Martinů (December 8, 1890 – August 28, 1959) was a Czech composer of modern classical music. In the early 1930s he found his main font for compositional style, the neo-classical as developed by Stravinsky. With this, he expanded to become a prolific composer, who wrote almost 400 pieces, included 6 symphonies, 15 operas, 14 ballet scores and a large body of orchestral, chamber, vocal and instrumental works. He is compared with Prokofiev and Bartók in his innovative incorporation of Central European ethnomusicology into his music.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohuslav_Martin%C5%AF

***

Charles Mackerras (17 November 1925 – 14 July 2010) was an Australian conductor. He was an authority on the operas of Janáček and Mozart, and the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan. Mackerras was known for his broad repertoire, expertise in Czech music, and use of period performance practices with modern orchestras. Mackerras recorded three Mahler symphonies and all of the symphonies of Mozart, Brahms and Beethoven.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bohuslav Martinů - Chamber Music (The Dartington Ensemble)


Information

Composer: Bohuslav Martinů

CD1:
  • (01-05) Five Madrigal Stanzas for violin and piano
  • (06-09) Four Madrigals for oboe, clarinet and bassoon
  • (10-12) Three Madrigals for violin and viola
  • (13-14) Madrigal Sonata for flute, violin and piano
CD2:
  • (01-03) Nonet for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon, violin, viola, cello and double bass
  • (04-06) Trio in F for flute, cello and piano
  • (07-10) Sonatina for two violins and piano
  • (11-14) Le Revue de Cuisine for clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, violin, cello and piano

The Dartington Ensemble
William Bennett, flute
Robin Canter, oboe
David Campbell, clarinet
Graham Sheen, bassoon
Richard Watkins, horn
Barry Collarbone, trumpet
Oliver Butterworth, violin
Patrick Ireland, viola
Michael Evans, cello
Nigel Amherst, double bass
John Bryden, piano (Trio, Revue)
Clifford Benson, piano (CD1)
&
Krysia Osostowicz, violin; Ernst Kovacic, violin; Susan Tomes, piano (Sonatina)

Date: 1982 (Nonet, Revue, Trio), 1983 & 1984 (Madrigals), 1991 (Sonatina)
Label: Hyperion
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDD22039

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: *****

Martinu’s chamber music forms a large and interesting body of work. In addition to his seven string quartets, he composed all manner of pieces, often using unusual instrumental combinations. Both these recordings enjoy the benefit of excellent sound, and both feature playing which is first rate, too. The Dartington Ensemble, in its attractive two-CD compilation, captures the knotty strength of the Nonet, which was completed in 1959, just a month before Martinu’s death. In La revue de cuisine (1927), there is plenty of sparkle, particularly in the appealing Charleston movement. And the same is true of the American performance, which has a bolder, more direct approach. The various instrumental madrigals, for duo and trio combinations of wind and strings, are charming, lyrical pieces, in which the Dartington players capture just the right atmosphere, making the most of the music’s inventiveness. The same might be said of the Bohemian Ensemble in the early Quartet (1924), for the bizarre combination of clarinet, horn, cello and side-drum, while the fluent Sonatine for clarinet, composed 30 years later, is beautifully played by Michele Zukovsky. She and her colleagues are members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and they perform quite brilliantly.

-- Terry Barfoot, BBC Music Magazine

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bohuslav Martinů (December 8, 1890 – August 28, 1959) was a Czech composer of modern classical music. In the early 1930s he found his main font for compositional style, the neo-classical as developed by Stravinsky. With this, he expanded to become a prolific composer, who wrote almost 400 pieces, included 6 symphonies, 15 operas, 14 ballet scores and a large body of orchestral, chamber, vocal and instrumental works. He is compared with Prokofiev and Bartók in his innovative incorporation of Central European ethnomusicology into his music.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Bohuslav Martinů - Nonet; Quartets (Czech Nonet; Pražák Quartet)


Composer: Bohuslav Martinů
  1. String Quartet No. 7 "Concerto da camera", H. 314: I. Poco allegro
  2. String Quartet No. 7 "Concerto da camera", H. 314: II. Andante
  3. String Quartet No. 7 "Concerto da camera", H. 314: III. Allegro vivo
  4. Quartet for clarinet, horn, cello & side-drum, H. 139: I. Allegro molto
  5. Quartet for clarinet, horn, cello & side-drum, H. 139: II. Poco andante
  6. Quartet for clarinet, horn, cello & side-drum, H. 139: III. Allegretto
  7. Quartet for oboe, violin, cello & piano, H. 315: I. Moderato poco allegro
  8. Quartet for oboe, violin, cello & piano, H. 315: II. Adagio - Andante (poco moderato)
  9. Quartet for oboe, violin, cello & piano, H. 315: III. Poco allegro
  10. Mazurka-Nocturne for oboe, 2 violins & cello, H. 325: Moderato poco allegro - Adagio
  11. Nonet for wind quintet, string trio & double bass, H. 374: I. Allegro
  12. Nonet for wind quintet, string trio & double bass, H. 374: II. Andante
  13. Nonet for wind quintet, string trio & double bass, H. 374: III. Allegretto

Pražák Quartet (1-3)
Václav Remeš, violin
Vlastimil Holek, violin
Josef Klusoň, viola
Michal Kaňka, cello
&
Czech Nonet (4-13)
Jiří Skuhra, flute
Jiří Krejčí, oboe
Aleš Hustoles, clarinet
Pavel Langpaul, bassoon
Vladimíra Klánská, horn
Jana Herajnová, violin
Jan Nykrýn, viola
Vladan Kočí, cello
Michal Rychlý, double bass
&
Pavel Kutman, violin (10)
Vlastimil Mareš, clarinet (4-6)
David Rehoř, tambourin (4-6)
Milan Langer, piano (7-9)

Date: 1995, 1996
Label: Praga


-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bohuslav Martinů (December 8, 1890 – August 28, 1959) was a Czech composer of modern classical music. In the early 1930s he found his main font for compositional style, the neo-classical as developed by Stravinsky. With this, he expanded to become a prolific composer, who wrote almost 400 pieces, included 6 symphonies, 15 operas, 14 ballet scores and a large body of orchestral, chamber, vocal and instrumental works. He is compared with Prokofiev and Bartók in his innovative incorporation of Central European ethnomusicology into his music.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohuslav_Martin%C5%AF

***

Czech Nonet, founded in 1924, is one of the oldest and most original chamber ensembles in the world. The Czech Nonet’s rich discography has been recorded by the Supraphon, Panton and Harmonia Mundi recording companies on forty-five LP’s and CD’s. Czech Nonet has gained many prestigious awards for recordings made for the Praga Digital. Martinů dedicated his 1959 Nonet to the Czech Nonet on the occasion of its 35th anniversary.

***

Pražák Quartet is a Czech string quartet established in 1972. It is one of the Czech Republic's premiere chamber ensembles. It was founded while its members were still students at Prague Conservatory. The Prazak Quartet has made more than 60 recordings during its long history, including some of the most important works in the string quartet and chamber music literature. They record for Praga Digitals.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Bohuslav Martinů - Cello Sonatas (Steven Isserlis)


Information

Composer: Bohuslav Martinů
  1. Cello Sonata No. 1, H. 277: 1. Poco allegro
  2. Cello Sonata No. 1, H. 277: 2. Lento
  3. Cello Sonata No. 1, H. 277: 3. Allegro con brio
  4. Cello Sonata No. 2, H. 286: 1. Allegro
  5. Cello Sonata No. 2, H. 286: 2. Largo
  6. Cello Sonata No. 2, H. 286: 3. Allegro commodo
  7. Cello Sonata No. 3, H. 340: 1. Poco andante
  8. Cello Sonata No. 3, H. 340: 2. Andante
  9. Cello Sonata No. 3, H. 340: 3. Allegro (ma non presto)

Steven Isserlis, cello
Peter Evans, piano
Date: 1988
Label: Hyperion
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDH55185

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

Martinu wrote a fair quantity of music for cello, but these three sonatas are undoubtedly the finest. Just how fine the First and Third Sonatas are did not, I have to confess, strike me until I heard Steven Isserlis and Peter Evans's performances on this disc... [W]hat Isserlis and Evans achieve is, I feel, more profound; they show that each of these works is a continuous musical argument. Here the colours are prevailingly darker, the mood on the whole more urgent. Some will find interpretations less friendly, but the gains are considerable: there's greater rhythmic vitality here (an indispensible element in Martinü) and Isserlis's feeling for the grand sweep of Martinu's long lines gives the music a fundamental firmness that it often lacks in performance.

...Take the opening of the Third Sonata: Evans's opening chords are massive and sonorous at first, but the splendour quickly fades--enter Isserlis, cool and restrained, but growing in warmth and tone weight towards the first climax. From the entry of the cello onwards it's like watching a black and white picture that slowly but steadily acquires colour. The performances are full of subtleties like this... No doubts as to the recommendation here.

-- Gramophone [7/1989]

More reviews:

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Bohuslav Martinů (December 8, 1890 – August 28, 1959) was a Czech composer of modern classical music. In the early 1930s he found his main font for compositional style, the neo-classical as developed by Stravinsky. With this, he expanded to become a prolific composer, who wrote almost 400 pieces, included 6 symphonies, 15 operas, 14 ballet scores and a large body of orchestral, chamber, vocal and instrumental works. He is compared with Prokofiev and Bartók in his innovative incorporation of Central European ethnomusicology into his music.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohuslav_Martin%C5%AF

***

Steven Isserlis (born 19 December 1958, London) is a British cellist. He is distinguished for his diverse repertoire, distinctive sound deployed with his use of gut strings and command of phrasing. Isserlis is a staunch advocate of lesser-known composers and of greater access to music for younger audiences. He plays the De Munck Stradivarius, a Montagnana cello from 1740 and a Guadagnini cello of 1745.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Bohuslav Martinů - Piano Concertos Nos. 2, 3 & 4 (Rudolf Firkušný)


Information

Composer: Bohuslav Martinů
  1. Piano Concerto No. 2, H. 237: Allegro moderato
  2. Piano Concerto No. 2, H. 237: Poco andante
  3. Piano Concerto No. 2, H. 237: Poco allegro
  4. Piano Concerto No. 3, H. 316: Allegro
  5. Piano Concerto No. 3, H. 316: Andante poco moderato
  6. Piano Concerto No. 3, H. 316: Moderato; Allegro
  7. Piano Concerto No. 4 "Incantation", H. 358: Poco allegro
  8. Piano Concerto No. 4 "Incantation", H. 358: Poco moderato

Rudolf Firkušný, piano
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Libor Pešek, conductor
Date: 1993
Label: RCA


----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

Although the five piano concertos are not of comparable importance to the Martinu symphonies, they are not of negligible interest. Martinu returned to the medium throughout his career: the First and weakest dates from 1925 and the last, the Fantasia concertante in B flat, from 1957, two years before his death. I have listed no comparisons at the head of this review, for, to be frank, these performances not only have special authority but are in a class of their own. In a recent review I recommended Emil Leichner's Supraphon survey with the Czech Philharmonic and Jiri Belohlavek only as ''a stopgap until something better turns up''. Well, here it most certainly is!

The disc bears the title ''Tribute to Rudolf Firkusny'' and the jewel-case reminds us that he gave the first performance of all three concertos. He was in fact the dedicatee of the Third but its first recording (and I think the first of any of the five numbered concertos) was entrusted to Josef Palenicek (Supraphon, 5/65), who also recorded the Fourth. Incantation is undoubtedly the finest of them all, highly imaginative in its exotic sound-world, with what sound like wild Aztec bird calls and war cries, and full of extraordinarily luminous and subtle sonorities. I remember hearing Firkusny play this at the Edinburgh Festival in the late 1950s and have never been quite as impressed as I was then—that is, until this present account, which will, I suspect come as a revelation to those who have heard only the Palenicek, Leichner or Havlikova recordings. There is the right sense of pace—and space: phrases have time to breathe and make their point. The Czech Philharmonic under Libor Pesek give Firkusny dedicated and sympathetic support. I can't imagine this performance ever being surpassed. The recording is very good and allows one to hear more orchestral detail than ever before, though hi-fi fanciers may find the piano a fraction too prominent.

The Second Concerto was composed in 1934 for Germaine Leroux who, shortly after the war, recorded the sinfonietta giocosa for piano and orchestra on three 78rpm Supraphon discs that were generously endowed with memorable quantities of surface noise. In Firkusny's hands the work makes an impression completely different from, and much more positive than, any of the preceding recordings I have heard. It has a real sense of warmth and delight, and like all good music makes one feel better. The Third, too, emerges in fresher and more vivid colours than ever before. What is also astonishing is that at no time does Firkusny's playing betray an inkling of his years: he was 81 when these performances were given!

In my days as a BBC producer I had the privilege of producing him both as a speaker and pianist, and would hope that some of his broadcasts both here and on the Continent will find their way on to disc. He was an aristocrat among pianists and this is a worthy memorial to him. In short, a most distinguished release which is recommended with all possible enthusiasm.

-- Robert Layton, Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2003/Aug03/Martinu_piano.htm
https://www.amazon.com/Martinu-Concertos-Orchestra-Firkusny-Tribute/dp/B000003FMJ

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bohuslav Martinů (December 8, 1890 – August 28, 1959) was a Czech composer of modern classical music. In the early 1930s he found his main font for compositional style, the neo-classical as developed by Stravinsky. With this, he expanded to become a prolific composer, who wrote almost 400 pieces, included 6 symphonies, 15 operas, 14 ballet scores and a large body of orchestral, chamber, vocal and instrumental works. He is compared with Prokofiev and Bartók in his innovative incorporation of Central European ethnomusicology into his music.

***

Rudolf Firkušný (11 February 1912 – 19 July 1994) was a Czech-born, Czech-American classical pianist. Firkušný started his musical studies with the composers Leoš Janáček and Josef Suk, and the pianist Vilém Kurz. Later he studied with the legendary pianists Alfred Cortot and Artur Schnabel. Firkušný had a broad repertoire but became known especially for his performances of the Czech composers.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Bohuslav Martinů - Violin Concertos; Rhapsody-Concerto (Josef Suk)


Information

Composer: Bohuslav Martinů
  1. Violin Concerto No. 1, H. 226: 1. Allegro moderato
  2. Violin Concerto No. 1, H. 226: 2. Andante (attacca)
  3. Violin Concerto No. 1, H. 226: 3. Allegretto
  4. Violin Concerto No. 2, H. 293: 1. Andante
  5. Violin Concerto No. 2, H. 293: 2. Andante moderato
  6. Violin Concerto No. 2, H. 293: 3. Poco allegro
  7. Rhapsody-Concerto for viola & orchestra, H. 337: 1. Moderato
  8. Rhapsody-Concerto for viola & orchestra, H. 337: 2. Molto adagio - Poco allegro

Josef Suk, violin
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Václav Neumann, conductor
Date: 1973 (1-6), 1987 (7, 8)
Label: Supraphon
http://www.supraphon.com/album/36-martinu-violin-concertos-rhapsody-concerto


-------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

The two violin concertos were recorded in 1973 not long after the score of the First Violin Concerto (1932-4) came to light. That work was composed for Samuel Dushkin, for whom Stravinsky had composed his Concerto in D, but it was never performed during Martinu's lifetime and the score went astray. Its first performance did not take place until 1973, when Josef Suk played it with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Solti. It finds Martinu in his early 1930s neo-classical mode. The Second Concerto was composed in New York a decade later in the winter of 1943, a few months before the Second Symphony with which it shares some spiritual kinship. It was commissioned by Mischa Elman who had been much taken by the First Symphony and who premiered the concerto at the very end of that year with Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

There have been alternative versions of the Second Concerto by Louis Kaufman (Cambria, 8/92) and Bruno Belcik (Supraphon, 11/62 – nla), but none of the First. In my original review of the present recording on LP, I spoke of the First as ''a stimulating piece, distinguished by Martinu's fine craftsmanship and resourceful technique and marked by many of his concerto-grosso figures of speech'', and the Second as ''a serene, lovely work to whose lyricism Suk's art is so naturally attuned'' – and I see no reason to modify that verdict.

The Rhapsody-Concerto for viola and orchestra takes us another decade onward to 1952. It is a more substantial piece and deeper in feeling. In a sense it is more a concertante work than a concerto, for though there are elements of dialogue and display, it seems indifferent to virtuosity for its own sake. There are four other recordings: Rivka Golani, Lubomir Maly, Milan Telecky and Nabuko Imai. Imai has great spontaneity and her tone has splendid opulence but the excessive reverberance of the Malmo acoustic is a drawback. Rivka Golani gives a thoughtful performance I like her unaffected eloquence. However, Suk's performance is a very fine one and the Czech Philharmonic under the late Vaclav Neumann are eminently responsive, even if Peter Maag finds a depth and poignancy in this score that rather eludes Neumann. The present coupling makes this a highly desirable disc.

-- Robert Layton, Gramophone

More reviews:

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Bohuslav Martinů (December 8, 1890 – August 28, 1959) was a Czech composer of modern classical music. In the early 1930s he found his main font for compositional style, the neo-classical as developed by Stravinsky. With this, he expanded to become a prolific composer, who wrote almost 400 pieces, included 6 symphonies, 15 operas, 14 ballet scores and a large body of orchestral, chamber, vocal and instrumental works. He is compared with Prokofiev and Bartók in his innovative incorporation of Central European ethnomusicology into his music.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohuslav_Martin%C5%AF

***

Josef Suk (8 August 1929 – 6 July 2011) was a Czech violinist, violist, chamber musician and conductor, the grandson of Josef Suk, the composer and violinist, and great-grandson of Antonín Dvořák. His violin art was characterized by a rotund and rich tone, glass-clear intonation and an idiomatic interpretation. Suk played the violin by Antonio Stradivari called Duc de Camposelice made in 1710, and also played the Libon Stradivari and The Prince of Orange violin by Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josef_Suk_(violinist)

-------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!