Author Topic: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)  (Read 69551 times)

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Offline SurprisedByBeauty

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #840 on: November 08, 2017, 12:27:44 AM »
So, I've seen a few mentions here and there of the new Meister symphony set, but I have yet to see where anyone here has actually heard it and can give a report. Anyone?

I have it, I like it. But my Martinu exposure is pretty limited, so I can't give an opinion on how it matches up with other cycles.

I have listened to it a few times over the last couple months, and I like it well... I want to say that I remember finding issue with the Sixth. And I was at two of the concerts at which these were recorded and was deeply impressed (when usually I don't think highly of Meister). But I've hardly gotten a definitive opinion of it yet.

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #841 on: November 08, 2017, 05:51:51 AM »
Amazing how we’re all so different. I disagree with you in regards to Thomson. There’s plenty of color and drive in his performances. He offers a different interpretation as he well should since he’s not Czech. :)

It could be that my disc with syms 2 & 6 is the weak link in Thomson's cycle. Can't say for sure.

But rest assured, it's not that I'm expecting Thomson to sound like the Czechs. "Dfferent" is always welcome in any interpretation.

I am happy with the recordings I have, and that's the bottom line, for sure. In the end, it's all Martinu. :)
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 Mirror Image

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #842 on: November 08, 2017, 06:37:24 AM »
It could be that my disc with syms 2 & 6 is the weak link in Thomson's cycle. Can't say for sure.

But rest assured, it's not that I'm expecting Thomson to sound like the Czechs. "Dfferent" is always welcome in any interpretation.

I am happy with the recordings I have, and that's the bottom line, for sure. In the end, it's all Martinu. :)

To the bolded text, you said it, DD. Agreed.
"Music must be beautiful, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #843 on: November 08, 2017, 08:46:26 AM »
I have listened to it a few times over the last couple months, and I like it well... I want to say that I remember finding issue with the Sixth. And I was at two of the concerts at which these were recorded and was deeply impressed (when usually I don't think highly of Meister). But I've hardly gotten a definitive opinion of it yet.

This is actually good to hear, Jens. I’m looking forward to going through this cycle.
"Music must be beautiful, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort” - Bohuslav Martinů

Online Scarpia

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #844 on: November 08, 2017, 08:48:08 AM »
I have listened to it a few times over the last couple months, and I like it well... I want to say that I remember finding issue with the Sixth. And I was at two of the concerts at which these were recorded and was deeply impressed (when usually I don't think highly of Meister). But I've hardly gotten a definitive opinion of it yet.

Having failed to get a definition opinion after listening a few times over a couple of months doesn't bode well...

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #845 on: November 08, 2017, 08:53:37 AM »
Having failed to get a definition opinion after listening a few times over a couple of months doesn't bode well...

That is a fair point, too. It would be nice to hear a more clear-cut opinion of the cycle from Jens.
"Music must be beautiful, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline SurprisedByBeauty

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #846 on: November 08, 2017, 09:47:30 AM »
Having failed to get a definition opinion after listening a few times over a couple of months doesn't bode well...

Maybe, but I don't think that applies in this case. I don't think I've ever had a definite opinion of ANY Martinu cycle after one listening. And only of Valek after a second.
Martinu I find to be a prickly composer, in that sense.

Offline Alek Hidell

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #847 on: November 08, 2017, 05:53:30 PM »
I have listened to it a few times over the last couple months, and I like it well... I want to say that I remember finding issue with the Sixth. And I was at two of the concerts at which these were recorded and was deeply impressed (when usually I don't think highly of Meister). But I've hardly gotten a definitive opinion of it yet.

Thanks for your input, Jens (tentative though it may be :)). I'll be keeping an eye on the set.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #848 on: November 08, 2017, 06:00:58 PM »
Thanks for your input, Jens (tentative though it may be :)). I'll be keeping an eye on the set.

A few questions for you, if you’ll kindly oblige me: what cycles do you own at the moment? What do you listen for in a Martinu symphony performance? What kind of interpretation do you generally prefer?
"Music must be beautiful, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline Alek Hidell

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #849 on: November 08, 2017, 08:07:50 PM »
A few questions for you, if you’ll kindly oblige me: what cycles do you own at the moment? What do you listen for in a Martinu symphony performance? What kind of interpretation do you generally prefer?

The first question is easy to answer: I own Järvi and Neumann, but I haven't yet heard Neumann. I also own the Turnovsky 4th and (I think) one or two other single symphony performances.

As for the other questions: I'm really inexpert in this music (classical in general, I mean, not just Martinů), and not very familiar with Martinů's symphonies, so it's hard for me even to formulate and express what I listen for. I'm also uneducated in music itself, though I can read it, so I can't discuss it the way people like Todd and amw and Poco sforzando can.

However, it seems to me that Martinů's music benefits from well-defined instrumental voices that bring out the various tonal colors of the music, of which there are a lot (and one of the things, I think, that attracts me to his music). Success in this sense could be a function either of the recording or the conductor, I suppose.

It makes me think that someone like Boulez would have been very good in Martinů - wonder why he never recorded any? (Or did he?)
"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist." - Hélder Pessoa Câmara

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #850 on: November 08, 2017, 08:38:25 PM »
The first question is easy to answer: I own Järvi and Neumann, but I haven't yet heard Neumann. I also own the Turnovsky 4th and (I think) one or two other single symphony performances.

As for the other questions: I'm really inexpert in this music (classical in general, I mean, not just Martinů), and not very familiar with Martinů's symphonies, so it's hard for me even to formulate and express what I listen for. I'm also uneducated in music itself, though I can read it, so I can't discuss it the way people like Todd and amw and Poco sforzando can.

However, it seems to me that Martinů's music benefits from well-defined instrumental voices that bring out the various tonal colors of the music, of which there are a lot (and one of the things, I think, that attracts me to his music). Success in this sense could be a function either of the recording or the conductor, I suppose.

It makes me think that someone like Boulez would have been very good in Martinů - wonder why he never recorded any? (Or did he?)

Thanks for your response. You’re certainly correct in saying what you have about Martinů’s music, and, in this case, his symphonies. I like performances that don’t ignore the lyricism of the music, but also doesn't ignore the rhythmic tautness that simply needs to happen in order to be wholly successful. I don’t think Boulez was particularly interested in Czech music in general (I could be wrong here), but I don’t recall him ever conducting any Czech composer’s music (again, I could be wrong). I think one reason Martinů wasn’t appealing to Boulez was perhaps he was too ‘backwards looking’ and not innovative enough. Remember this is a man that called Shostakovich a ‘third-pressing of Mahler’ (or something to this effect). Anyway, I disagree with Boulez, but he chose his own path and conducted music he felt strongly about, so I can’t fault him in this regard. A conductor should be so lucky to conduct the music they want. I’m getting off-topic here, so let me just say that Martinů has been an important composer in my life and continues to supply endless fascination and fulfillment.
"Music must be beautiful, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #851 on: November 09, 2017, 04:13:35 AM »
I don’t think Boulez was particularly interested in Czech music in general (I could be wrong here), but I don’t recall him ever conducting any Czech composer’s music (again, I could be wrong).

He did some performances of Janacek's works, though I don't think any of them were recorded, save for this From the House of the Dead (which I think is excellent).


Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #852 on: November 09, 2017, 06:46:46 AM »
He did some performances of Janacek's works, though I don't think any of them were recorded, save for this From the House of the Dead (which I think is excellent).



Ah yes, I should pick up that DVD. Forgot about that one.
"Music must be beautiful, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #853 on: November 10, 2017, 08:35:45 AM »
Compositional Spotlight:

Musique de Chambre No. 1 "Les fêtes nocturnes” for clarinet, violin, viola, cello, harp & piano, H 376



In 1959, Martinů composed his very last published chamber work entitled La Musique de chambre, No. 1, a curious irony for multiple reasons, including that there is no subsequent “No. 2.” It is truly one of a kind, beginning with its unusual scoring for clarinet, string trio, piano and harp. Martinů wields his palette with exquisite sensibility for color, sonority and transparent texture, painting a three-movement fantasia so rich in sound and evocative expression that words fail to describe it. Each movement comprises a number of vivid sections in a fluid adventure of timbres, melodies, moods and rhythms that elude obvious formal models. There is a dominant rhythmic complexity and motoric vitality here, and in much of Martinů’s music, with shifting, shimmering ostinati evoking Stravinsky and also, curiously, the minimalists such as Riley, Glass and Reich who would begin to emerge only a few years after Martinů’s death. The harp is crucial for creating “atmospheres” as well as carefully calibrated sonorities in conjunction with the other players, while maintaining an unusually sharp and effective contrast with its close relative, the piano. Though each instrument remains essential, the clarinet is another effective locus of color and character evoking, in passing, influences from Mozart to Strauss. Martinů’s lifelong musical wanderlust brings several different flowers to this very poetic musical bouquet including French and Czech accents, folk music, ancient polyphony, fanfares and processions, a touch of jazz, and in the middle movement in particular, an almost Zen-like graceful stillness. A mesmerizing sheen persists throughout. Martinů’s final chamber work is a revelation, certainly a beguiling invitation to discover more.

[Article taken from earsense blog]

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For me, this is one of my favorite Martinů chamber pieces. It encapsulates a feeling of nostalgia and longing for perhaps his homeland, but Martinů is careful to not let this music be ‘all a rainy day’ so to speak. One of the most remarkable things about this particular work is how Martinů is able to conjure up a lifetime of joy, suffering, hardship, and triumph in a mere 20 minute span. For those that do not know this work, please check it out and check out this particular performance as it’s my favorite of the three versions I own:



The Viola Sonata is another exceptional work, but that’s a discussion for another day. ;)

What do you guys think of Musique de Chambre No. 1?
"Music must be beautiful, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #854 on: November 10, 2017, 10:33:18 AM »
There is a dominant rhythmic complexity and motoric vitality here, and in much of Martinů’s music, with shifting, shimmering ostinati evoking Stravinsky and also, curiously, the minimalists such as Riley, Glass and Reich who would begin to emerge only a few years after Martinů’s death.
[Article taken from earsense blog]

This point is very interesting. At times while listening to Martinu, I've thought "this sounds proto-minimalist." I got that impression most strongly from the toccata of Toccata e Due Canzoni.

It would be cool if the minimalists started claiming Martinu as an ancestor, though I think they hit on their procedures without his influence.
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Offline SymphonicAddict

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #855 on: November 10, 2017, 02:47:34 PM »
Compositional Spotlight:

Musique de Chambre No. 1 "Les fêtes nocturnes” for clarinet, violin, viola, cello, harp & piano, H 376



In 1959, Martinů composed his very last published chamber work entitled La Musique de chambre, No. 1, a curious irony for multiple reasons, including that there is no subsequent “No. 2.” It is truly one of a kind, beginning with its unusual scoring for clarinet, string trio, piano and harp. Martinů wields his palette with exquisite sensibility for color, sonority and transparent texture, painting a three-movement fantasia so rich in sound and evocative expression that words fail to describe it. Each movement comprises a number of vivid sections in a fluid adventure of timbres, melodies, moods and rhythms that elude obvious formal models. There is a dominant rhythmic complexity and motoric vitality here, and in much of Martinů’s music, with shifting, shimmering ostinati evoking Stravinsky and also, curiously, the minimalists such as Riley, Glass and Reich who would begin to emerge only a few years after Martinů’s death. The harp is crucial for creating “atmospheres” as well as carefully calibrated sonorities in conjunction with the other players, while maintaining an unusually sharp and effective contrast with its close relative, the piano. Though each instrument remains essential, the clarinet is another effective locus of color and character evoking, in passing, influences from Mozart to Strauss. Martinů’s lifelong musical wanderlust brings several different flowers to this very poetic musical bouquet including French and Czech accents, folk music, ancient polyphony, fanfares and processions, a touch of jazz, and in the middle movement in particular, an almost Zen-like graceful stillness. A mesmerizing sheen persists throughout. Martinů’s final chamber work is a revelation, certainly a beguiling invitation to discover more.

[Article taken from earsense blog]

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For me, this is one of my favorite Martinů chamber pieces. It encapsulates a feeling of nostalgia and longing for perhaps his homeland, but Martinů is careful to not let this music be ‘all a rainy day’ so to speak. One of the most remarkable things about this particular work is how Martinů is able to conjure up a lifetime of joy, suffering, hardship, and triumph in a mere 20 minute span. For those that do not know this work, please check it out and check out this particular performance as it’s my favorite of the three versions I own:



The Viola Sonata is another exceptional work, but that’s a discussion for another day. ;)

What do you guys think of Musique de Chambre No. 1?

I don't know it yet, but you have encouraged me to give it a try.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #856 on: November 10, 2017, 05:47:03 PM »
This point is very interesting. At times while listening to Martinu, I've thought "this sounds proto-minimalist." I got that impression most strongly from the toccata of Toccata e Due Canzoni.

It would be cool if the minimalists started claiming Martinu as an ancestor, though I think they hit on their procedures without his influence.

Bruckner could be considered a ‘proto-Minimalist’ as well I suppose. There may be some minimalism in Martinu’s music, but I think this more of a question of how his musical language works and has gradually changed through up until his mature period. If it’s uncool to like Martinu, then count me in as the most unhip person around. 8)
"Music must be beautiful, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #857 on: November 10, 2017, 06:19:56 PM »
I don't know it yet, but you have encouraged me to give it a try.

Yes! Please check it out. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Not the afore mentioned performance in my initial post, but quite nice nevertheless:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/zbtmsZfpjwA" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/zbtmsZfpjwA</a>
« Last Edit: November 10, 2017, 07:38:23 PM by Mirror Image »
"Music must be beautiful, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline snyprrr

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #858 on: November 13, 2017, 09:26:13 AM »
Clarinet Sonata
Trumpet Sonatina


I really enjoyed the craftsmanship of these late works, some very propulsive rhythms
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Offline Brian

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #859 on: November 13, 2017, 09:38:31 AM »
I don’t think Boulez was particularly interested in Czech music in general (I could be wrong here), but I don’t recall him ever conducting any Czech composer’s music (again, I could be wrong).
There's also a Boulez Glagolitic Mass live recording floating around the internet. Or maybe two? I think he may have done it at both the BBC Proms and Chicago SO.

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