Author Topic: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)  (Read 70104 times)

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Kullervo

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #40 on: October 07, 2007, 01:25:04 PM »


RCA - 74321886822

(CD - 2 discs)

Les Ritournelles
Fantasie and Toccata (1940)
Piano Sonata No. 1
Julietta
Études & Polkas
Piano Concerto No. 2, H237
Piano Concerto No. 3, H316
Piano Concerto No. 4, H358 'Incantation
Rudolf Firkusny , Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Libor Pesek

FRom the New York Times ( January 1987) :

Mr. Firkusny knew Martinu for many years, and in the last two decades of the composer's life they were very close (and near neighbors in New York City). ''I was familiar with his music before I met him, because in Brno, where I lived, it was played quite a bit,'' Mr. Firkusny recalled. ''Brno was ahead of Prague in this. In 1932 or '33 I met him in Paris, and we became friends. He told me that he was writing another piano concerto - his first was very influenced by jazz and by French 'isms' - and that he would like me to play it. As it turned out he did not dedicate it to me; a close friend of his married a pianist and he gave it to her as a wedding gift, but he reserved the premiere for me.''

Later, Martinu gave him the dedication of the Third Concerto, ''but that unfortunately is not one of his strongest works, and I have rarely played it,'' Mr. Firkusny said, adding that it had a troubled origin. Premonition in Minor Key

''It was just after the war, and he wanted to write something very joyful, to have it performed in Prague,'' Mr. Firkusny said. ''But he came to me and said he was worried, he could not find the right spirit; gloom kept creeping in. Even when he thought he had the right mood for the finale, there would suddenly come this minor key. On the day he brought me the final page, he asked, 'Have you seen The Times?' I hadn't. Masaryk had committed suicide, and it was the end of the government in Czechoslovakia. So his minor keys were a premonition.''

Later came a fourth concerto, called ''Incantations,'' again with a premiere by Mr. Firkusny, ''a very beautiful work, more of a fantasia than a concerto.''

The Second Concerto, Mr. Firkusny said, ''is very important in Martinu's output, because it was the first work in which he began to turn from his 'international' style toward a distinct Czech idiom. Martinu spent most of his life away from Prague, and his music became more and more Czech the longer he didn't live there. He had a great kind of homesickness, a melancholy streak.'' It is in traditional three-movement form, with themes that Mr. Firkusny associates with some of the tunes in Smetana's operas.

Martinu was the second great composer with whom Mr. Firkusny had a close association. The first came into his life when he was five years old and his mother took him to audition for Leos Janacek, who initiated the young prodigy into an intensive study of composition and ''became like a father'' to him.

Peter
 
 


Is this veritable treasure trove still available on disc?

pjme

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #41 on: October 08, 2007, 12:42:56 AM »
Hi Corey,
I googled a bit , but could only find this (cheap) twofer in the UK

http://www.crotchet.co.uk/74321886822.html

The original discs are available aswell ( the pianopieces /the concerti)

Good luck!
Peter

Kullervo

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #42 on: October 08, 2007, 08:10:48 AM »
Hi Corey,
I googled a bit , but could only find this (cheap) twofer in the UK

http://www.crotchet.co.uk/74321886822.html

The original discs are available aswell ( the pianopieces /the concerti)

Good luck!
Peter

Thanks!

Offline rubio

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #43 on: October 08, 2007, 12:49:07 PM »
While we're on the subject, another contender for great Martinů discs:



This one seems quite tempting. I see that some people over at rmcr think that the soundbalance is a bit weird on this recording. Any comment? How does it compare to Isserlis/Evans?
“One good thing about music, when it hits- you feel no pain” Bob Marley

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #44 on: October 08, 2007, 05:16:33 PM »
This one seems quite tempting. I see that some people over at rmcr think that the soundbalance is a bit weird on this recording. Any comment? How does it compare to Isserlis/Evans?

What is the main objection? What's out of balance? Can't say as I hear anything out of the ordinary, myself. And I'm picky about balance.



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 rubio

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #45 on: October 09, 2007, 08:07:14 AM »
Well, it seemed like a strange comment (see below). Maybe it was from an audio buff.

"Interesting. Of late, I'm vaguely unsatisfied with Starker/Firkusny.
Part of this has to do with the strange sound of the RCA CD. The piano
sounds dull and there is little presence. There also seems to be some
tension between the very famous cellist and the equally famous pianist."
“One good thing about music, when it hits- you feel no pain” Bob Marley

Offline edward

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #46 on: October 09, 2007, 11:22:35 AM »
Coming late to this thread about one of my favourite composers, and a few brief remarks as I'd mostly be duplicating:

I find the Naxos recording of the cello sonatas near-unlistenable. Don't judge Martinu by it.

My favourites have mostly been covered here: Symphonies 3 & 6, Piano Concerto 4, Parables, Fresques, Memorial to Lidice. I don't think his chamber and solo music is as consistently strong as his vocal and/or orchestral stuff.

All of Ancerl's Martinu recordings are essential, IMO: I'm also hugely partial to CzPO/Belohlavek in the 3rd & 4th symphonies (I take the controversial position of preferring him to Turnovsky in the 4th).
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
 -- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music

lukeottevanger

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #47 on: October 09, 2007, 11:33:20 AM »
I'm also hugely partial to CzPO/Belohlavek in the 3rd & 4th symphonies (I take the controversial position of preferring him to Turnovsky in the 4th).

I can find it in my heart to forgive, as long as you can find common ground in agreeing with me on the proposition: the Naxos recording of this piece is a travesty. I've rarely heard a work so ruined, robbed of all life and zest. In this of all pieces.

Offline edward

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #48 on: October 09, 2007, 11:35:03 AM »
I can find it in my heart to forgive, as long as you can find common ground in agreeing with me on the proposition: the Naxos recording of this piece is a travesty. I've rarely heard a work so ruined, robbed of all life and zest. In this of all pieces.
I have avoided the Naxos recordings of the symphonies, and intend to continue doing so. I have good CzPO accounts of the last four--just need to find counterparts for the first two. :)
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
 -- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music

lukeottevanger

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #49 on: October 09, 2007, 11:36:56 AM »
I have avoided the Naxos recordings of the symphonies...

You lucky devil

Offline Brewski

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #50 on: October 09, 2007, 11:59:38 AM »
My favourites have mostly been covered here: Symphonies 3 & 6, Piano Concerto 4, Parables, Fresques, Memorial to Lidice. I don't think his chamber and solo music is as consistently strong as his vocal and/or orchestral stuff.

I was just thinking that last week, with so much praise for the orchestral works (all of the above are marvelous).  As much as I love chamber music, I definitely play his larger pieces much more often. 

--Bruce
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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #51 on: October 09, 2007, 06:36:17 PM »
Well, it seemed like a strange comment (see below). Maybe it was from an audio buff.

"Interesting. Of late, I'm vaguely unsatisfied with Starker/Firkusny.
Part of this has to do with the strange sound of the RCA CD. The piano
sounds dull and there is little presence. There also seems to be some
tension between the very famous cellist and the equally famous pianist."


That's surprising to hear. Firkusny to me isn't dull at all (nor the piano sound).

In fact, he's practically the star of the recording. Not to take anything away from Starker at all but Firkusny has what might be described as "that Czech sound" going on. Maybe someone can help me here but when I listen to Czech music played by Czech performers (on recordings, anyway) I get a sense of 'earthiness', of distinct rhythms and nuances (and so on) that seem, well...born from what I can only imagine is the Czech countryside. A certain tradition (affectionate!), I suppose, that Czech performers tap into which gives Czech music a homespun sound.

At least that's what I hear with Martinu and Janacek, anyway.

What this has to do with the RCA recording is, well, Firkusny sounds impressively (ahem!) "Czech" to me. He believes in the music and delivers a 'from the gut' performance. And Starker to my ears complements him well. The two seem to be feeding off each other in a strong give-and-take. But strictly as protagonists.

And the recorded sound is impeccable. Close and intimate. And Firkusny's tone is rich and full of character.

This disc is a winner to me!



« Last Edit: October 09, 2007, 09:03:38 PM 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

karlhenning

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #52 on: October 10, 2007, 04:37:59 AM »
Quote from: Edward
I have avoided the Naxos recordings of the symphonies...
You lucky devil

 ;D

My non-experience with Naxos in the symphonies has been similarly fortuitous :-)

Giorgio Koukl's piano solo survey on Naxos, though, I have found very enjoyable.

Offline toledobass

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #53 on: October 10, 2007, 04:43:19 AM »
Howdy folks,

Here's some more worthwhile reading from the old board:

http://www.good-music-guide.com/forum/index.php/topic,1034.0.html

Peace,

Allan

Offline mjwal

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #54 on: October 16, 2007, 03:32:21 AM »
I agree totally about Ancerl & Turnovsky - and the "Incantations" 4th piano concerto on that great Apex CD bowled me over so much, I'm inclined to put it at the top of all 20th century piano concertos. His late opera Ariane (in French) is a really delightful quasi-absurdist investigation of the Ariadne/Theseus/Minotaur story, a superb performance conducted by Neumann on Supraphon - neo-classicism with heart. The violin & viola concertos by Suk & Ancerl on the same label are excellent.
The Violin's Obstinacy

It needs to return to this one note,
not a tune and not a key
but the sound of self it must depart from,
a journey lengthily to go
in a vein it knows will cripple it.
...
Peter Porter

Offline 71 dB

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #55 on: October 16, 2007, 04:23:01 AM »
Interesting! Thanks to pjme I have now heard Martinu's "Ceska rapsodie" which I like unlike the sickening cello sonatas I have from this composer. It seems this composer has many styles. I don't have a clue how to explore him...

 ???
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Kullervo

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #56 on: October 16, 2007, 04:40:12 AM »
Interesting! Thanks to pjme I have now heard Martinu's "Ceska rapsodie" which I like unlike the sickening cello sonatas I have from this composer. It seems this composer has many styles. I don't have a clue how to explore him...

 ???

Next get the complete symphonies on Chandos.

Harry

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #57 on: October 16, 2007, 04:43:48 AM »
Next get the complete symphonies on Chandos.

Yeah, that's still waiting for me too, allthough I have a few cycles allready. ;D

Offline 71 dB

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #58 on: October 16, 2007, 05:01:05 AM »
Next get the complete symphonies on Chandos.

I see. Added to my Wishlist. Maybe it's turn becomes before year 2040.  ;D
Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening.
Crossfeeders reduce spatial distortion and make the sound more natural
and less tiresome in headphone listening.

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Offline The new erato

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #59 on: October 16, 2007, 05:02:55 AM »
Next get the complete symphonies on Chandos.
Wouldn't be surprised if these turned up cheap on Brilliant soon. The Glazunov symphonies (Polyansky) are just announced. Any views on that, compared to (the also relatively cheap) BIS Glazunov cycle?

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