Author Topic: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)  (Read 70108 times)

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Offline Brewski

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Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« on: October 04, 2007, 08:27:06 AM »
Post-Martinů? We don't even have a Martinů thread!

Now we do!  Thanks for the suggestion.  :D

Now everyone, please go out right now and get a recording of the Double Concerto for Two String Orchestras, Piano and Timpani.  Of some half-dozen different recordings, so far I haven't heard a dud yet, so just pick one.   ;D

(Photo below is from Archives Martinů.)

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Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.
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uffeviking

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2007, 10:09:29 AM »
I have his The Epic of Gilgamesh, does this excuse me from running out and buying another Martinu? - I can't find that tiny ° to put above his u, sorry! - OK, I take your word for your recommendation and shall check what amazon.com has in their store.  :)

pjme

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2007, 10:32:49 AM »
Good idea! Martinu deserves a lot of attention !

The Double concerto is a magnificent composition. I have Charles Mackerras / Prague Radio SO (1982 rec.) on Supraphon.
Other works I cherish : the Nonette and Chamber music 1 (from 1959), pianoconcerti 4 ( Incantation) and 5 (Fantasia concertante),
the very early (1918) Czech rhapsody, a big cantata for baritone, choir, organsolo & orchestra ( wonderfully sweeping & grand; hardly recognisable as mature Martinu - but lovers of Dvorak, Elgar, Smetana ( and with the help of some Bach & Händel...) should investigate!!).

Symphony 6 - Fantaisies symphoniques

Kitice  (Bouquet of flowers - 1937) - a cycle of songs on folk texts that deal with rather sinister themes ...(Uliana poisons her brother....,an old man meets death in a cornfield...etc) set for soli, choir, children's choir and small orchestra ,it bristles with catchy ,irresistable tunes that invite to sing along. great (mono) performance led by Ancerl.

The miracle of our Lady - a cycle of 4 -rather short- operas.
The Wise and foolish virgins functions as a prologue.(from an old French text)
Mariken of Nimwegen (Nijmegen / The netherlands) is the most dramatic one act piece ( after a Mediaeval miracle play/ re-written by Henri Ghéon)
The Nativity acts almost as a pastoral interlude ( I find this really touching - sweetly naive ,yet poetical & mysterious.Text by the composer & folk poetry)
Sister Paskalina comes closest to "real" opera.(text by the composer + folkpoetry)

This is my selection for today...

Peter

Offline Brewski

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2007, 12:01:36 PM »
I have his The Epic of Gilgamesh, does this excuse me from running out and buying another Martinu? - I can't find that tiny ° to put above his u, sorry! - OK, I take your word for your recommendation and shall check what amazon.com has in their store.  :)

The Epic of Gilgamesh is very good, but you might find things in his output you like better.  He's written quite a few operas (none of which seem to be on the Met's radar).  And many of Peter's suggestions above I don't know at all...this is a composer with a huge output.

PS, Lis, no worries about the kroužek (learned something today!) in Martinů's name (or other diacriticals, for that matter).  But you know you can cut-and-paste, even from the subject line of this thread!  :D

--Bruce
Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.
     ~ Gustav Mahler

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

pjme

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2007, 12:19:16 PM »
this is a composer with a huge output.

Indeed. More than 400 works in a very wide variety of forms. French musicologist Harry Halbreich has  made a complete catalogue ( + biography)

...alas at ca 70 € ,quite expensive

 Hyperion will soon issue a disc (vol.1) with Martinu's complete oeuvre for violin (and orch./instr.)

 BOHUSLAV MARTINU (1890-1959)
The Complete Music for Violin and Orchestra - 1
BOHUSLAV MATOUSEK violin
JANNE THOMSEN flute 1–3
RÉGIS PASQUIER violin 4–6
JENNIFER KOH violin 7–9
CZECH PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
CHRISTOPHER HOGWOOD conductor 


Concerto for flute, violin and orchestra H252 [18'41]
Allegro moderato [5'01]
Adagio [8'10]
Poco allegretto [5'28]

Duo concertant for two violins and orchestra H264 [17'44]

Poco allegro [4'50]
Adagio [6'54]
Allegro [6'00]

Concerto in D major for two violins and orchestra H329 [18'37]

Poco allegro [7'28]
Moderato — Più vivo — Tempo primo — [4'33]
Allegro con brio — Vivo (Presto) [6'34]
« Last Edit: October 04, 2007, 12:21:01 PM by pjme »

lukeottevanger

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2007, 12:20:40 PM »
Big Martinu fan here, just coming down from a recent binge, accompanied by Safranek's beautiful biography. Just a few more for the list:

Symphony 4 - Turnovsky (accept no imitations - one of the great recordings, full stop, IMO)

Bures Cantatas

The Parables - orchestral late Martinu at its most glowing and sublime.

Frescos of Piero della Francesca - ditto, not far behind the above

Memorial to Lidice

(The Ancerl disc which couples the last three with the 5th Symphony (hardly a lesser work itself) is surely one of the finest Martinu discs of all)

Vigile - his last piece, a deeply moving nocturne-like work for organ.

Offline Brewski

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2007, 12:39:28 PM »
Hyperion will soon issue a disc (vol.1) with Martinu's complete oeuvre for violin (and orch./instr.)

 BOHUSLAV MARTINU (1890-1959)
The Complete Music for Violin and Orchestra - 1
BOHUSLAV MATOUSEK violin
JANNE THOMSEN flute 1–3
RÉGIS PASQUIER violin 4–6
JENNIFER KOH violin 7–9
CZECH PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
CHRISTOPHER HOGWOOD conductor 

This sounds great, and I've heard Jennifer Koh several times live--she's fantastic.  She did the Ligeti Violin Concerto here a couple of years ago.

And Luke, I don't know that recording of the Fourth Symphony, which also sounds very enticing.  I do have (at the moment) two different recordings of the Memorial to Lidice, including Christoph Eschenbach's with Philadelphia.  PS, totally by chance, my mother happened to hear it last season with Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra and wrote saying "what a great piece it was." 

--Bruce
Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.
     ~ Gustav Mahler

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

lukeottevanger

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2007, 12:49:53 PM »
And Luke, I don't know that recording of the Fourth Symphony, which also sounds very enticing...

It's one of those very special readings - everything about it is radiant. I've met people - like the French marketseller from whom I bought the Safranek biography - who just start talking about it, and how it was the hook that drew them into Martinu years ago, as it did me.

You can get it very cheap now, with its original coupling (Tre Ricercare). The PC recording on this disc comes from elsewhere, and I don't know it, though it is also, of course, one of Martinu's finest works.


Offline Brewski

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2007, 12:52:25 PM »
Excellent, thanks!  And PS, I have not read the Safranek book, either--another for the "to read" list.

--Bruce
Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.
     ~ Gustav Mahler

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

pjme

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2007, 12:55:29 PM »
Although I don't count it as one of Martinu's major works, it is a real rarity : the Fantaisie (oboe, piano,stringquartet and Theremin.)

This will work - lots of Martinu works. Nr 32 is the fantaisie...

http://www.ilovemusicvideo.net/artist/Bohuslav+Martinu

I have a good version on Timpani (with Jacques Tchamkerten on ondes Martenot) - but this is the original...Sound is not perfect - Thereministe Carolina Eyck is!
« Last Edit: October 04, 2007, 12:59:51 PM by pjme »

Kullervo

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2007, 01:13:30 PM »
Excellent. ;D

Martinů is a composer I'm set on exploring. This is what I have so far:


Verrry vigorous first and what many consider his masterpiece, the Double Concerto.


I recommend everyone pick up this set right away, before it becomes much more expensive!


Lovely baroque-inspired chamber pieces.


The Parables and Estampes are showcases for M's shimmering orchestration.
(Sorry for the small image, this is long O.O.P.)

Next: probably the complete quartets on Supraphon, or one of his operas (I've already bought Julietta once, but the seller didn't actually have it! >:()
« Last Edit: October 04, 2007, 01:19:14 PM by Corey »

Kullervo

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2007, 01:22:55 PM »
Hey, shouldn't this thread have a witty name like Maison du Martinů or Bohuslav's Beach house? ;D

pjme

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2007, 02:04:37 PM »
Hmmm...???? Maison de Martinu ? Or "Bohemian dwelling"? Musicbox? Mountainlodge?




Kullervo

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2007, 04:43:08 AM »
Hmmm...???? Maison de Martinu ? Or "Bohemian dwelling"? Musicbox? Mountainlodge?

I thank you for correcting my awful French.

pjme

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2007, 05:09:50 AM »
Pas de problème ! you are welcome.

Peter


Offline sound67

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #15 on: October 05, 2007, 09:52:13 AM »
Quote

I recommend everyone pick up this set right away, before it becomes much more expensive!

Couldn't agree more. The finest set of Martinu symphonies available!

Thomas
"Vivaldi didn't compose 500 concertos. He composed the same concerto 500 times" - Igor Stravinsky

"Mozart is a menace to musical progress, a relic of rituals that were losing relevance in his own time and are meaningless to ours." - Norman Lebrecht

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #16 on: October 05, 2007, 03:24:06 PM »
Martinu was an exceedingly prolific composer. Just taking the concerti, for example, I count a total of-

8 Piano Concertos- 5 are numbered, 2 of are Concertinos and the Sinfonietta Giocosa for piano and chamber orchestra
4 Violin Concertos- 2 are numbered, plus a Suite Concertante and a Concerto da Camera for Violin and string orchestra, piano, timpani
                                and percussion
4 Cello Concertos- 2 are numbered, a Concertino and the Sonata da Camera
Viola-the Rhapsody-Concerto
Oboe Concerto
Harpsichord Concerto
5 Double Concertos-Double Piano, Double Violin, Duo Concertante for Two Violins, the Flute and Violin Concerto, and one for Piano and
                                    Violin
2 Triple Concertos- Concerto for Piano Trio and a Concertino for Piano Duet
2 Quadruple Concertos-Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra, and Sinfonia Concertante for Oboe, Bassoon, Violin, Cello and
                                     orchestra

Trying to keep track of all of these is pretty difficult! The number of times I stood in a CD shop(in Prague, for example) trying to remember whether I already had a particular concerto...!

Inevitably, Martinu's output is variable in quality. He passed through a number of stages- jazz influences in the 1920s, neo-classicism in the 1930s, neo-romanticism in the 1940s-1950s. There are certainly a number of masterpieces amongst his compositions. I have a great deal of time for the symphonies, the Double Concerto for Two String Orchestras, Piano and Timpani of 1938(mentioned above) is undoubtedly a superb, powerful and moving work, and the Parables and the Frescos of Piera della Francesca are both colourful and dramatic.

The trouble might just be that because he wrote so much(and so quickly) Martinu is sometimes guilty of note-spinning repetition. Some of the works from the 1930s(in the neo-classical phase) are difficult-at times-to tell apart!

Fortunately, Martinu has been pretty lucky in that, although his music does not often feature in live concert programmes(at least in Great Britain!), most of his orchestral music at least is available on CD. Almost unbelievably, of all the concertos listed above only four are not currently available and two of those will be included in the new Hyperion series of the works for violin and orchestra.
So-there is plenty to explore for the inquisitive!


Offline vandermolen

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #17 on: October 06, 2007, 02:14:37 AM »
There was some Martinu played at the Barbican (London) a few years ago where I recall hearing the beautiful Frescoes of Piero della Francesca and other works.

My favourites are: Symphony 4 (Turnovsky is the best), The Epic of Gilgamesh, Frescoes, Paraples (after St Exupery), Piano Concerto "Incantations" (on Turnovsky CD with Symph 4), Memorial to Lidice. Karel Ancerl was a great Martinu conductor.  look out for his Supraphon Gold Edition CD with the Frescoes and Parables (with Janacek's Sinfonietta): a great disc. The Bryden Thomson box set of the symphonies on Chandos is as good a way as any to investigate this great composer.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline 71 dB

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #18 on: October 06, 2007, 05:11:55 AM »
Few years ago I bought a Naxos CD of Martinu's works for cello and piano. I find the music unlistenable. Not my cup of tea.
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karlhenning

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #19 on: October 06, 2007, 10:08:14 AM »
Few years ago I bought a Naxos CD of Martinu's works for cello and piano. I find the music unlistenable. Not my cup of tea.

So, are you judging the composer entirely from one recording of the cello-&-piano works?

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