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: 16

Voting closes: April 07, 2018, 09:03:21 PM

Author Topic: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?  (Read 710 times)

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Offline amw

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #20 on: November 14, 2017, 06:18:20 AM »
I listened to one of my test movements (finale of No.1) as performed by Fagen and the orchestra seemed alright. I have nothing against the Ukraine NSO, who have a well blended corporate sound in the mold of Austro-German orchestras even if they may not be 100% virtuosi, and who make a pretty good showing against the competition in e.g. Prokofiev, Borodin, Piston, Khachaturian. The rhythmic impetus seemed a bit anaemic, but Fagen does play the movement slower than many other performances (over 10 minutes) which may contribute to that feeling. The slow, lyrical passages were very fine. I'm not going to buy it immediately but it seems ok.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #21 on: November 14, 2017, 06:54:51 AM »
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.

Considering I love the Jarvi cycle both interpretatively and sonically, I’m not sure how I would feel about Fagen’s cycle. Thanks for the feedback.
"Music 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 #22 on: November 14, 2017, 06:56:47 AM »
I listened to one of my test movements (finale of No.1) as performed by Fagen and the orchestra seemed alright. I have nothing against the Ukraine NSO, who have a well blended corporate sound in the mold of Austro-German orchestras even if they may not be 100% virtuosi, and who make a pretty good showing against the competition in e.g. Prokofiev, Borodin, Piston, Khachaturian. The rhythmic impetus seemed a bit anaemic, but Fagen does play the movement slower than many other performances (over 10 minutes) which may contribute to that feeling. The slow, lyrical passages were very fine. I'm not going to buy it immediately but it seems ok.

Yeah, that doesn’t sound like hearty endorsement, so I’ll pass. ;) Thanks for taking the time to listen and report back.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2017, 08:50:14 AM by Mirror Image »
"Music must be beautiful, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline André

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #23 on: November 14, 2017, 09:06:14 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 used to have the Thomson cycle as well as the Fagen. I kept only the latter (plus a few individual performances). I find Fagen perfectly attubed to the idiom. Orchestral infelicities (if there are any) are of very little concern to me in this repertoire and, in any case, I doubt I’d be able to spot them, lest they be of the horrendous type. To me, in slavic repertoire the spirit  counts more than architectonic splendour and perfection of execution: IOW the opposite of Brahms and Bruckner. But that's just me... ;D

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #24 on: November 14, 2017, 12:10:34 PM »

Rozhdestvensky (2, 3, 5 & 6), because I'm a communist or something

I've been curious about these. Rozh is known for promoting composers who don't get much play in Russia (Nielsen, Vaughan Williams, Bruckner) and I suppose Martinu falls into that category. His performances of such composers often sound a bit different from the norm (and sometimes rather odd).

To me, in slavic repertoire the spirit  counts more than architectonic splendour and perfection of execution: IOW the opposite of Brahms and Bruckner. But that's just me... ;D

I don't really think of Martinu as Slavic repertoire so much as cosmopolitan (with French influence being especially strong), although of course there are a lot of native Czech references in his work.

formerly VELIMIR (before that, Spitvalve)

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #25 on: November 14, 2017, 07:11:01 PM »
I used to have the Thomson cycle as well as the Fagen. I kept only the latter (plus a few individual performances). I find Fagen perfectly attubed to the idiom. Orchestral infelicities (if there are any) are of very little concern to me in this repertoire and, in any case, I doubt I’d be able to spot them, lest they be of the horrendous type. To me, in slavic repertoire the spirit  counts more than architectonic splendour and perfection of execution: IOW the opposite of Brahms and Bruckner. But that's just me... ;D

As Archaic Torso pointed out, there’s much more to Martinu than the Slavic influence, although that is certainly important. Expressionism, Impressionism, and Neoclassicism were all fixtures of his evolving style. There’s no doubt a Moravian-Bohemian folk influence is in his music, but this helped give his melodies an earthy texture. If this makes any sense? As Torso said, a cosmopolitan composer, but one that never lost sight of his homeland and, in fact, on many occasions yearned for it through his music.
"Music must be beautiful, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #26 on: November 14, 2017, 10:43:00 PM »
As Archaic Torso pointed out, there’s much more to Martinu than the Slavic influence, although that is certainly important. Expressionism, Impressionism, and Neoclassicism were all fixtures of his evolving style. There’s no doubt a Moravian-Bohemian folk influence is in his music, but this helped give his melodies an earthy texture. If this makes any sense? As Torso said, a cosmopolitan composer, but one that never lost sight of his homeland and, in fact, on many occasions yearned for it through his music.
I've recently discovered his early 'Czech Rhapsody' (1918) - a great work, inspired by the forthcoming independence of Czechoslovakia - it's very interesting to hear some of his early works.
 :)
« Last Edit: November 14, 2017, 10:46:32 PM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Online Daverz

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #27 on: November 16, 2017, 09:32:30 AM »
Thanks a lot, Daverz. Do you think that performance you linked from above is the same one found in this 2-CD set?



Yes, they are the same, though I haven't compared the sound quality.

Online Daverz

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #28 on: November 16, 2017, 09:51:57 AM »
It’s alright, Daverz, I was able to snag a used copy for around $10 (+ shipping) of the Japanese reissue. 8)

Ah, good, that also gets you the excellent Piston recording which is not in the Great Conductors set (which is still worth it for the Beethoven 9).


Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Favorite Martinů Symphony Cycles?
« Reply #29 on: November 16, 2017, 06:36:44 PM »
Ah, good, that also gets you the excellent Piston recording which is not in the Great Conductors set (which is still worth it for the Beethoven 9).

Indeed. I enjoy the Piston work as well, but obviously the Martinu was the main attraction for me. :)
"Music must be beautiful, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort” - Bohuslav Martinů

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