Poll

Favorite Complete Martinů Symphony Cycles? (Allowed two choices)

Jiří Bělohlávek/BBC Symphony Orchestra (Onyx)
8 (26.7%)
Václav Neumann/Czech Philharmonic (Supraphon)
8 (26.7%)
Bryden Thomson/Royal Scottish National Orchestra (Chandos)
5 (16.7%)
Vladimír Válek/Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra (Supraphon)
2 (6.7%)
Arthur Fagen/National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine (Naxos)
1 (3.3%)
Cornelius Meister/ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra (Capriccio)
0 (0%)
Neeme Järvi/Bamberg Symphoniker (BIS)
6 (20%)

Total Members Voted: 15

Voting closed: April 07, 2018, 08:03:21 PM

Author Topic: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?  (Read 1464 times)

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Offline Mirror Image

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Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« on: November 08, 2017, 09:03:21 PM »
Martinů Symphony Round-Up!



Choose your favorite cycle. You’re allowed to vote for two of your favorite complete cycles.
“It must be beautiful, or it wouldn't be worth the effort.” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2017, 09:31:40 PM »
I’m terribly sorry to all who have voted so far. I have decided to set the votes back to zero as I had a horrible error of judgement. Please vote again.
“It must be beautiful, or it wouldn't be worth the effort.” - Bohuslav Martinů

Online Daverz

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2017, 11:58:45 AM »
Voted for Mr. B on Onyx and Neumann, though I do like the warmer sound of the Thomson.  I sold the Valek discs on. 

However, I have not heard the Fagen, Jarvi, or the new Meister.  They are all on the streaming services, though.  I note that Tidal lists the Valek set as "Symfonies".
« Last Edit: November 09, 2017, 12:04:56 PM by Daverz »

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2017, 12:16:26 PM »
I shouldn't vote since I've only heard three of the cycles (Thomson, Järvi, Neumann). But I will vote. Of those three, Järvi ranks first, Neumann second.

Sarge
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Offline André

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2017, 12:23:36 PM »
I voted for the only one I currently own. Much as I admire the Martinu symphonies, I’ve never been tempted to make extensive comparisons. I do know that my favourites are not to be found in a complete cycle: # 4 with Martin Turnovsky and # 6 with Charles Munch.

Parsifal

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2017, 12:45:21 PM »
I listened to the 30 second samples of Meister on Amazon. I liked what I heard. This is bad...

Online Daverz

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2017, 12:50:33 PM »
Listening to Meister's 3 on Tidal.  Good so far ::)

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2017, 06:45:49 PM »
I shouldn't vote since I've only heard three of the cycles (Thomson, Järvi, Neumann). But I will vote. Of those three, Järvi ranks first, Neumann second.

Sarge

:o You and I actually agree on something (not the first time this has happened of course), we both prefer Järvi. 8)
“It must be beautiful, or it wouldn't be worth the effort.” - Bohuslav Martinů

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2017, 06:54:17 AM »
Upon revisitation of Thomson’s Martinu, I listened to his performance of the 3rd symphony and found myself rather disappointed. One of my main problems with his entire cycle, now that I’ve got much more experience with these symphonies and knowing what I like from a performance, is he pushes the music too hard. He hits the climaxes with great power, but it’s almost just too much. The audio quality is great of course, so no complaints there. Thomson seems to view each work the same and while his 3rd nailed the climatic moments, the lyrical moments seemed to be swept to the wayside. It’s always amusing how tastes can change in interpretations over the years. My second vote would go to Neumann/CzPO on Supraphon now.
“It must be beautiful, or it wouldn't be worth the effort.” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2017, 07:23:14 AM »
:o You and I actually agree on something....

Surely one of the signs of the apocalypse  ;D

Sarge
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"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2017, 07:28:41 AM »
Surely one of the signs of the apocalypse  ;D

Sarge

Indeed and I also agree with you about Neumann. :o The world has now ended. :D
“It must be beautiful, or it wouldn't be worth the effort.” - Bohuslav Martinů

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2017, 08:44:05 PM »
I voted for the only one I currently own. Much as I admire the Martinu symphonies, I’ve never been tempted to make extensive comparisons. I do know that my favourites are not to be found in a complete cycle: # 4 with Martin Turnovsky and # 6 with Charles Munch.

I’m going to have to try and find a recording of Munch’s 6th. It’s difficult to try and obtain in a single release or so I’ve heard. How did you acquire your version?
“It must be beautiful, or it wouldn't be worth the effort.” - Bohuslav Martinů

Online Daverz

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2017, 09:11:37 PM »
I’m going to have to try and find a recording of Munch’s 6th. It’s difficult to try and obtain in a single release or so I’ve heard. How did you acquire your version?

I got my copy from Japan, and HMV still lists it.  You get an extra coupling over the download, the Menotti Violin Concerto:

http://www.hmv.co.jp/en/artist_Martinu-1890-1959_000000000020547/item_Martinu-Fantaisies-Symphoniques-Piston-Symphony-No-6-Etc_1214757

It's also available for download.  From Presto, for example:

https://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/classical/products/8176244--piston-symphony-no-6-martinu-fantaisies-symphoniques

I don't know if the re-masterings are different.


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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2017, 09:17:12 PM »
I got my copy from Japan, and HMV still lists it.  You get an extra coupling over the download, the Menotti Violin Concerto:

http://www.hmv.co.jp/en/artist_Martinu-1890-1959_000000000020547/item_Martinu-Fantaisies-Symphoniques-Piston-Symphony-No-6-Etc_1214757

It's also available for download.  From Presto, for example:

https://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/classical/products/8176244--piston-symphony-no-6-martinu-fantaisies-symphoniques

I don't know if the re-masterings are different.

Thanks a lot, Daverz. Do you think that performance you linked from above is the same one found in this 2-CD set?

“It must be beautiful, or it wouldn't be worth the effort.” - Bohuslav Martinů

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2017, 09:25:08 PM »
It’s alright, Daverz, I was able to snag a used copy for around $10 (+ shipping) of the Japanese reissue. 8)
“It must be beautiful, or it wouldn't be worth the effort.” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline amw

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #15 on: November 13, 2017, 10:19:36 PM »
I have not heard Valek or Fagen. I would rank the cycles I have heard as follows:

Bělohlávek CzPO (No.1 on Chandos + 3-6 on Supraphon)—ideal combination of conductor, orchestra & (in Supraphon) audio engineer; best rhythmic feel of any Martinů cycle on disc
Bělohlávek BBCSO, very good orchestral balance w piano given its due prominence, but lyrical passages often not given their due & sound is not as good as Supraphon
Rozhdestvensky (2, 3, 5 & 6), because I'm a communist or something
Järvi, a bit too bombastic & with some orchestral details lost in the mix, but definitely exciting
Neumann, which I consider the most balanced cycle in re tempo, rhythmic clarity & lyrical expression (but the orchestration is often not clear enough, the rhythms sometimes lack the necessary snap & the playing is not always up to snuff).
Meister, maybe too laid-back & lyrical with not enough rhythmic snap, but brings out subtler elements in Martinů's style well, the clearest orchestral balance of any cycle is a plus
Thomson, sumptuous and Wagnerian but sometimes too hard driven and superficial, definitely overdoes the bombast to the point where e.g. the end of No.1 sounds like the orchestra has completely fallen apart thanks to an unnecessary accelerando

None of the cycles that I know are bad, to be honest. I'm glad to have the ones I own and kinda want to buy the ones I don't.

Also obviously worth mentioning are the usual suspects: Munch no.6, Ančerl no.5 and 6, Šejna no.3 (mono), Turnovsky no.4

My Build-a-Cycle would be
1 - Bělohlávek CzPO
2 - Rozhdestvensky (Bělohlávek BBCSO as backup)
3 - Rozhdestvensky
4 - Neumann (or Turnovsky, in a pinch)
5 - Meister
6 - Bělohlávek CzPO (or Järvi)

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #16 on: November 13, 2017, 10:48:42 PM »
Since you mentioned it, amw, Fagen’s cycle is one I haven’t heard nor do I find myself drawn to it either. There’s something about the cycle that screams unpolished and poor orchestral playing. I don’t mean to jump to conclusions about the merits of Fagen’s cycle, but these are the reasons why I haven’t investigated any of his Martinu recordings. I’d love to hear from a member here who has heard this cycle and could shed some light on it for those who haven’t heard it.
“It must be beautiful, or it wouldn't be worth the effort.” - Bohuslav Martinů

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2017, 10:55:48 PM »
Are there really so few Martinu Complete Symphonies cycles that have been recorded? It isn't like he is some really obscure composer whose music is only very rarely performed..................................................

Although I have only heard Neumann's recordings so I can't really vote on this one anyway

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #18 on: November 14, 2017, 05:49:44 AM »
Since you mentioned it, amw, Fagen’s cycle is one I haven’t heard nor do I find myself drawn to it either. There’s something about the cycle that screams unpolished and poor orchestral playing. I don’t mean to jump to conclusions about the merits of Fagen’s cycle, but these are the reasons why I haven’t investigated any of his Martinu recordings. I’d love to hear from a member here who has heard this cycle and could shed some light on it for those who haven’t heard it.
I've heard some of Fagen! The engineering is more of a concern than the orchestra, and Fagen is a pretty good conductor (see his piano concerto cycle with Koukl). I prefer the sound of even the much older Neumann, so I don't listen to Fagen often, but when I do the feeling is typically, "Oh, yeah, these are fine too."

Would rank him above Meister overall for interpretation, and perhaps Jarvi.

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #19 on: November 14, 2017, 06:13:28 AM »
Are there really so few Martinu Complete Symphonies cycles that have been recorded? It isn't like he is some really obscure composer whose music is only very rarely performed..................................................
Yes, really - and there are tons of Martinů works that haven't been recorded at all!
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