Author Topic: Sorting out Martinu's chamber music  (Read 10455 times)

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Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Sorting out Martinu's chamber music
« on: December 17, 2008, 05:28:18 AM »
It seems that a lot of Martinu fans find his chamber music a lot more variable in quality than his orchestral output. I'm generally inclined to agree, and it would be worth hearing what other people consider the best of his (numerous) productions in that field. (It seems that when I acquire a CD of Martinu chamber music, it often contains one masterpiece, one work that's just OK, and one dud.)

I like most:

The Nonet (one of the last things he wrote, and one of the first I heard - marvelous)
String Quartet #5 (on the Bartok or Shostakovich quality level). I also like #4, but it's not quite as gripping. (Haven't heard #6, highly rated by some)
Piano Quintet #2 (very "symphonic" in feeling)
Piano Trio #3 (very fine late piece; #2 is also quite good)
and the wacky La Revue de Cuisine

I am not as familiar with the highly rated cello sonatas as I should be. I have listened and liked them, but that's all I can say for now.

Otherwise, there are a number of pieces in the "just OK" range: Piano Quintet #1, some of the other string quartets, the various "madrigals" for combinations of instruments. I don't listen to them too often, because they're just OK.

So who likes what?
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Drasko

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Re: Sorting out Martinu's chamber music
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2008, 06:12:35 PM »
So who likes what?

Nonet and 5th Quartet, of what I heard, which is not that much. I like first two Cello Sonatas (third less so for some reason) and Flute, Cello, Piano Trio is ok. What I'd most like to hear next are the Sextets, string and wind. Any recommendations for these?

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Sorting out Martinu's chamber music
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2008, 10:27:20 PM »
I'm very fond of the cello sonatas. Some of my favorite Martinu. If it can be found the OOP Starker/Firkusny recording on RCA is exemplary.

I haven't heard all of the violin sonatas but what I have (nos. 2 & 3) are top-drawer (Suk/Hala).

The string quartets also rate very highly with me. I enjoy them all. The Panocha quartet is top-notch, so too is the Martinu quartet on Naxos. Very different takes on the music, however. The Panocha find more quirkiness and color in the music whereas the Martinu is more plush. I love both. I also have the Kocian quartet on Praga (2, 4, & 5) - more earthbound but still pretty good. The only non-Czech recording of the quartets I have comes from the Emperor quartet on BIS (3, 4, & 5). Very nicely done.

And yes, the Nonet is fabulous.

Another worthwhile disc is this one for chamber serenades (trios, quintets, etc., w/ a mixture of winds and strings) along with a couple of serenades for small orchestra:
« Last Edit: December 18, 2008, 07:33:42 AM by donwyn »
Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Sorting out Martinu's chamber music
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2008, 08:40:35 AM »
Well, not much to offer but would like to follow this thread - just have 2 discs of Martinu's Chamber Works shown below - the Naxos CD is a good introduction w/ 4 different pieces; the Hyperion/Helios disc has a sextet - must certainly explore him more - thanks for the thread!  :)

 

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Sorting out Martinu's chamber music
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2008, 11:29:18 AM »
How about his solo piano music? Naxos has a whole series - anyone heard 'em?
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Offline Guido

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Re: Sorting out Martinu's chamber music
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2008, 03:28:41 PM »
I am very fond of all three cello sonatas, but it is the second that I return to most often. I'll be following this thread with interest.
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Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Sorting out Martinu's chamber music
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2008, 12:48:21 PM »
Not about chamber music specifically, but a nice bit of news  :)


Czech EU presidency to promote Martinů's work
ČTK / December 4, 2008
Prague, Dec 3 (CTK) - Martinu Revisited, highlighting the work by Czech 20th-century composer Bohuslav Martinu, will be the most important cultural project of Czech EU presidency in the first six months of 2009, Ales Brezina, director of the Bohuslav Martinu Institute, told CTK Wednesday.

It has been joined by prominent world orchestras, opera houses, festivals and soloists such as singers Eva Urbanova and Magdalena Kozena, British conductor Charles Mackerras and Czech conductor Jiri Belohlavek, Brezina said.

Martinu's work will be performed by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bamberg Symphonic Orchestra, the London Symphonic Orchestra and the Prague Symphonic Orchestra.

The two-year project will start on December 11, 2008 and end on December 10, 2010.

Bohuslav Martinu (December 8, 1890-August 28, 1959) spent most of his life in France, the USA and Switzerland where he died.

Martinu wrote six symphonies and 15 operas, including The Greek Passion.

Martinu's operas and ballets will be performed in Brno, Bratislava, Nice, Zurich, Luzern and London.

Festivals paying homage to Martinu will be held in Basle, Aix en Provence and the USA.

The Bohuslav Martinu Centre will be opened in his native town of Policka, East Bohemia, Brezina said.

The National Museum in Prague plans to stage a big exhibition on his life and work.



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Offline Lethevich

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Re: Sorting out Martinu's chamber music
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2009, 10:06:28 AM »
Martinů seems to be king of the boxed set. Whatever form, he wrote enough to fill several discs (SQs, syms, concertos, piano solo, cello & piano, it never ends!). Anyone familiar with these pieces/performances?



4 discs, £12.50 at Europadisc.
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Re: Sorting out Martinu's chamber music
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2009, 07:43:24 PM »
I've heard that beyond the 2nd or 3rd sonata, M's violin/piano music is his weakest. Perhaps also the 2 Violin Sonata, but most of the pieces didn't make any impact on the reviewers (long time ago; also on Supraphon... I take it this is new?). M's piano music is ok, no great shakes for me. I'm also no big fan of his Cello Sonatas.

snyprrr

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Re: Sorting out Martinu's chamber music
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2009, 08:16:20 PM »
I could have sworn I'd done this recently???

I fought in the Martinu Chamber Wars of the '90s. Brutal...

Martinu comes in four categories for me: winners, ok keepers, ok losers, losers. And Martinu comes in "phases:" sometimes you can't tell which Martinu you're going to get! But generally, for me, anything from his last decade is a winner ('49-'59). The jazz stuff is at my bottom.

1) Nonet (+ Chamber Music No.1 and Nocturne, all three his last works)
2) Piano Quintet No.2
3) SQ No.7
4) all music for Piano Trio (esp. 2-3)
5) String Sextet***
6) Duo No.1 (vln,vnc)***
7) Piano Quartet
8) Harpsichord Sonata
9) Vigil for organ
10) Flute Sonata
11) Clarinet Sonata
12) Trumpet Sonata
13) Viola Sonata

Duo No.2, String Trio No.2, the various trios w/flute or harpsichord, the SQs, the quartet w/side-drum, 2Violin Sonata, the wind sextet, the Magrigals and Serenades... oh, the list goes on... isn't there even an ondes piece??? and a piece for four recorders???

There is a LOT in the take it or leave it category!!!

I do enjoy the Serenades (Supraphon), though they are totally friv.

Don't do what I did which was to get practically every disc available just trying to find that second masterpiece. Martinu for me was a heart breaker with his SQs: they just didn't do it for me; same with the Cello Sonatas. If I haven't mentioned every worthy, and un-, please correct me.



Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Sorting out Martinu's chamber music
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2009, 08:48:34 PM »
I fought in the Martinu Chamber Wars of the '90s.

And lived to tell the tale. I'm sure it left some scars  ;D

Quote
Don't do what I did which was to get practically every disc available just trying to find that second masterpiece. Martinu for me was a heart breaker with his SQs: they just didn't do it for me; same with the Cello Sonatas. If I haven't mentioned every worthy, and un-, please correct me.

If you don't dig the 5th String Quartet and any of the Cello Sonatas, then I may have to take back your Martinu Fan Club membership card. There's just no hope for you.
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Drasko

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Re: Sorting out Martinu's chamber music
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2009, 06:20:00 AM »


I fought in the Martinu Chamber Wars of the '90s. Brutal...

Martinu for me was a heart breaker with his SQs: they just didn't do it for me; same with the Cello Sonatas.


I find that rather strange, for someone who generally likes Martinu to dislike 2nd Cello Sonata. First movement theme is one of the most beautiful Martinu ever wrote, believe he even re-worked it for finale of 3rd Symphony. Here it is:
[mp3=200,20,0,left]http://www.fileden.com/files/2008/7/24/2018019/martinu/martcelloson2wickdevoyon.mp3[/mp3]
cello/piano (Tilmann Wick/Pascal Devoyon)
[mp3=200,20,0,left]http://www.fileden.com/files/2008/7/24/2018019/martinu/mar3finczponeum.mp3[/mp3]
orchestra (CzPO/Neumann)

Are you sure you survived those wars? ;)

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Sorting out Martinu's chamber music
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2009, 07:08:26 AM »
Martinů seems to be king of the boxed set. Whatever form, he wrote enough to fill several discs (SQs, syms, concertos, piano solo, cello & piano, it never ends!). Anyone familiar with these pieces/performances?



4 discs, £12.50 at Europadisc.


Good stuff, at least what I've heard of this repertoire. Can't say as I've heard these exact performances, though - see my post above...


 
« Last Edit: July 01, 2009, 07:11:02 AM by Dancing Divertimentian »
Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Sorting out Martinu's chamber music
« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2009, 07:15:34 AM »
Thankee! I'm a wimp, I'll probably buy it even if people warn me off $:) I hope that Supraphon makes more of these cheap reissued boxes. So much of their available catalogue is in antique giant 2CD box original issues, and some of it perculiarly expensive as well when compared with this Martinů and the two recent Dvořák chamber music sets.
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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Sorting out Martinu's chamber music
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2009, 08:45:25 AM »
Thankee! I'm a wimp, I'll probably buy it even if people warn me off $:) I hope that Supraphon makes more of these cheap reissued boxes. So much of their available catalogue is in antique giant 2CD box original issues, and some of it perculiarly expensive as well when compared with this Martinů and the two recent Dvořák chamber music sets.

At that price it's a steal. :)
Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline edward

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Re: Sorting out Martinu's chamber music
« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2009, 11:41:06 AM »
And lived to tell the tale. I'm sure it left some scars  ;D

If you don't dig the 5th String Quartet and any of the Cello Sonatas, then I may have to take back your Martinu Fan Club membership card. There's just no hope for you.
Whom do you recommend in the Cello Sonatas? I have the Bendas on Naxos, and they do not bite my shiny metal ass.
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Offline Brewski

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Re: Sorting out Martinu's chamber music
« Reply #16 on: July 01, 2009, 12:18:16 PM »
This one (on Claves) with Mattia Zappa and Massimiliano Mainolfi is quite good.  Review here.

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Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Sorting out Martinu's chamber music
« Reply #17 on: July 01, 2009, 08:35:51 PM »
Whom do you recommend in the Cello Sonatas? I have the Bendas on Naxos, and they do not bite my shiny metal ass.

I have Isserlis/Evans on Hyperion. I like it, but I haven't heard any competing versions.
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Re: Sorting out Martinu's chamber music
« Reply #18 on: July 02, 2009, 01:56:53 AM »
Whom do you recommend in the Cello Sonatas? I have the Bendas on Naxos, and they do not bite my shiny metal ass.

You can check the clip I posted few posts up. That is taken from Audite disc of all three sonatas played by Tilmann Wick/Pascal Devoyon, compared to Naxos their bite is much stronger, but whether is it enough for your steel behind can't tell. Just got Chuchro/Hala on Supraphon but haven't listened to them yet. I could rip a movement from each if you'd like more sample.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2009, 02:00:43 AM by Drasko »

snyprrr

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Re: Sorting out Martinu's chamber music
« Reply #19 on: July 02, 2009, 07:51:56 PM »
If you don't dig the 5th String Quartet and any of the Cello Sonatas, then I may have to take back your Martinu Fan Club membership card. There's just no hope for you.

I had a feeling I was going to need to add this to my post:

I believe Martinu is one of those early 20th century composers who cultivated many different styles (Stravinsky), but then, finally, settled into his place as heir to Dvorak, no? You must admit that his last decade produced his most delicate orchestral Czech fairytales, from Symphonies Fantastiques on.

So, my arguement is that as long as I like his end game, I get to choose which Martinu "style" I get to accept or reject. ::)It's selfish, I know, but please, Martinu wrote way to much stuff... sorry!

So, my arguement goes, that I don't like Martinu's "jazz" style, his blatantly baroque style, and his "dark, serious" style. SQ 5 and the Cello Sonatas fall into the latter category. I know that they are "important" Martinu pieces, and many people like them, but I singularily don't like them because I just don't like the way Martinu "does" serious, and they dooo stand out as serious works in Martinu's ouvre, no? I know it maybe doesn't make sense, but I like other composers for serious. I like Martinu for "magic!"

My point is, is that I like p-p-plenty of Martinu, and I feel my Martinu taste buds are extremely refined, pshaw... so, for your SQ 5, I will trade you SQ 7, the String Sextet, and the Duo for violin and cello.

And for your Cello Sonatas I will trade you the Viola Sonata, Violin Sonatas 2-3, and the Piano Trios 2-3.

So!..aha... Touche, m'lord... I have your Martinu surrounded!! :D 8)