Author Topic: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)  (Read 70183 times)

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #860 on: November 13, 2017, 01:25:57 PM »
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.

But I’m referring to commercial recordings that are available for purchase. I do recall Boulez conducted both the Glagolitic Mass and Sinfonietta at the BBC Proms. I’m not sure about his ventures with the CSO however.
"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 #861 on: November 15, 2017, 06:35:11 AM »
Just thought I would mention, in passing, that Meister’s cycle is quite enjoyable. Great orchestral clarity with some interesting interpretative choices --- Symphony No. 2 has some slower tempi, but the music didn’t drag (thankfully). As I mentioned in the listening thread, I felt Meister could have dug a bit deeper in the slower movement of the 2nd symphony, but that’s a minor criticism. It still had a lot of feeling. As Jens (?) or someone pointed out, these are very much a young man’s interpretations, but there’s a great vitality to the performances that I’ve heard so far that I find positively infectious. A superb set so far.
"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 #862 on: November 15, 2017, 09:02:33 PM »
Meister’s cycle doesn’t disappoint, but he’s probably in third place when it comes to my preferences: Jarvi and Neumann. I could use with a bit more individualism in the performances. Thankfully, he’s not a Thomson or Valek, which are two my least favorite cycles.
"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 #863 on: November 15, 2017, 10:40:04 PM »
As Jens (?) or someone pointed out, these are very much a young man’s interpretations, but there’s a great vitality to the performances that I’ve heard so far that I find positively infectious. A superb set so far.

Don't think that was me; I believe that on the inside, Meister is at least 60 years old.

Offline ritter

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #864 on: November 16, 2017, 02:23:59 AM »
But I’m referring to commercial recordings that are available for purchase. I do recall Boulez conducted both the Glagolitic Mass and Sinfonietta at the BBC Proms. I’m not sure about his ventures with the CSO however.
Sorry to remain off-topic, but there is a commercial-ish recording of The Glagolitic Mass conducted by Boulez. Here:



It's not easy to get, and long OOP. I know he also conducted the Sinfonietta, and then there's the famous video of From the House of the Dead live from Aix-en-Provence in the Patrice Chéreau staging (on DG).

OTOH, I doubt Boulez ever conducted Martinů or had any real affinity with good old Bohuslav's music.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #865 on: November 16, 2017, 06:41:50 AM »
Don't think that was me; I believe that on the inside, Meister is at least 60 years old.

Yeah, which is why I had a question mark beside your name. I’m not sure where I read this opinion now.
"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 #866 on: November 16, 2017, 06:43:40 AM »
Sorry to remain off-topic, but there is a commercial-ish recording of The Glagolitic Mass conducted by Boulez. Here:



It's not easy to get, and long OOP. I know he also conducted the Sinfonietta, and then there's the famous video of From the House of the Dead live from Aix-en-Provence in the Patrice Chéreau staging (on DG).

OTOH, I doubt Boulez ever conducted Martinů or had any real affinity with good old Bohuslav's music.

Hey Rafael, of course, what I meant by commercial recording is a recording that’s widely distributed for sale via brick-and-mortar stores and/or online. I’ve seen you or someone post about this recording before, but given it’s as rare as a dinosaur fossil, I doubt many will know about it or will ever be able to obtain a copy.
"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 #867 on: November 17, 2017, 07:16:45 PM »
Compositional Spotlight:

Piano Concerto No. 4, “Incantation”, H 358



<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/6nEo7oKJcsw" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/6nEo7oKJcsw</a>

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For me, a Martinu masterpiece. The harmonic colors, the vividness of the orchestration, the writing for piano, etc., this concerto has it all. There’s also a narrative between the piano and the orchestra being told. I don’t think I can pick a favorite performance just yet, although I was mightily impressed with the Páleníček performance on Apex. Anyway, what do you guys think of this work? Any favorite performances?
"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 #868 on: November 17, 2017, 07:36:28 PM »
Compositional Spotlight:

Piano Concerto No. 4, “Incantation”, H 358



<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/6nEo7oKJcsw" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/6nEo7oKJcsw</a>

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For me, a Martinu masterpiece. The harmonic colors, the vividness of the orchestration, the writing for piano, etc., this concerto has it all. There’s also a narrative between the piano and the orchestra being told. I don’t think ars later... so I can pick a favorite performance just yet, although I was mightily impressed with the Páleníček performance on Apex. Anyway, what do you guys think of this work? Any favorite performances?

It's like Janacek 20 years later... such refreshing fantasy music! No.5 sounds like a typical PC in comparison... all I have is Firkusny
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #869 on: November 17, 2017, 08:01:11 PM »
It's like Janacek 20 years later... such refreshing fantasy music! No.5 sounds like a typical PC in comparison... all I have is Firkusny

That’s an interesting comparison and one I’m inclined not to disagree with either. Hah...’fantasy music.’ I like the sound of that! 8) How do you find that Firkusny performance? I have several performances of this concerto, but I had just bought the Firkusny earlier today.
"Music must be beautiful, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline kyjo

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #870 on: November 17, 2017, 10:29:58 PM »
Agreed, John - the PC 4 is a fantastic work. It's strikingly original (particularly the orchestration) yet simultaneously very accessible. I really like the Kollinsky/Ashkenazy performance on Ondine.

Currently listening to the Double Concerto for 2 String Orchestras, Piano, and Timpani - a nervous, tension-filled work which very much reflects its date of composition (1938). Great stuff!

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #871 on: November 18, 2017, 06:10:07 AM »
Agreed, John - the PC 4 is a fantastic work. It's strikingly original (particularly the orchestration) yet simultaneously very accessible. I really like the Kollinsky/Ashkenazy performance on Ondine.

Currently listening to the Double Concerto for 2 String Orchestras, Piano, and Timpani - a nervous, tension-filled work which very much reflects its date of composition (1938). Great stuff!

I’ll have to check out that Kolinsky/Ashkenazy recording. I haven’t heard it in years. Have you heard the Firkušný, Leichner, or Páleníček performances?
"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 #872 on: November 18, 2017, 08:48:23 AM »
That’s an interesting comparison and one I’m inclined not to disagree with either. Hah...’fantasy music.’ I like the sound of that! 8) How do you find that Firkusny performance? I have several performances of this concerto, but I had just bought the Firkusny earlier today.

I certainly don't feel the need to look elsewhere! All I know is that I can hear the wind through the trees in this work... ah, now I wish it weren't in storage...

That, the Sym6... and the 'Parables' and the 'Fresques'... Symphonies 6-8 as I call them...

I wish he had more in this "fantasy" style... I haven't found anything else comparable...


NO ONE was writing in this style at the time, I wonder was Martinu the last of the pre-WWII Composers in that he didn't get "ugly" in the '50s (like Hindemith and Malipiero and...)... Martinu turned to ultra-fantasy....

I guess Late Prokofiev is similar... Symphony No.7 for instance...



Rimsky+Stravinsky?
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #873 on: November 18, 2017, 09:00:39 AM »
I certainly don't feel the need to look elsewhere! All I know is that I can hear the wind through the trees in this work... ah, now I wish it weren't in storage...

That, the Sym6... and the 'Parables' and the 'Fresques'... Symphonies 6-8 as I call them...

I wish he had more in this "fantasy" style... I haven't found anything else comparable...


NO ONE was writing in this style at the time, I wonder was Martinu the last of the pre-WWII Composers in that he didn't get "ugly" in the '50s (like Hindemith and Malipiero and...)... Martinu turned to ultra-fantasy....

I guess Late Prokofiev is similar... Symphony No.7 for instance...



Rimsky+Stravinsky?

Martinu had no interest in serialism or Schoenberg, for example, as he was a part of another camp: the Neoclassical one with Stravinsky, Poulenc, Hindemith, etc. What set his music a part from theirs, however, was the other influences that affected his music: his love of the English Madrigal, Debussy, jazz, and the Moravian-Bohemian folk music of his homeland. I’ve read some people say that Martinu is the most un-Czech composer of his time, but I tend to disagree as the music of his homeland never left his music even when he was caught up in all of the music that he surrounded himself in during his stay in Paris (1920s, early 1930s). For example, works like The Spectre’s Bride, Bouquet of Flowers, and Špalíček were written while he lived in Paris. It’s this balancing act of influences filtered through his own worldview and perspectives is what gives you that ‘Martinu sound’. Nobody was writing music like him during the late 40s and early-mid 50s because he never abandoned what he felt was important in music and my signature quote from him explains it all “Music music be beautiful, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort.”
« Last Edit: November 18, 2017, 06:49:49 PM by Mirror Image »
"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 #874 on: November 18, 2017, 10:48:49 AM »
Martinu had no interest in serialism or Schoenberg, for example, as he was a part of the another camp: [snipped]

An excellent summary. As to snyprrr's point raised here

I wish he had more in this "fantasy" style... I haven't found anything else comparable...


NO ONE was writing in this style at the time, I wonder was Martinu the last of the pre-WWII Composers in that he didn't get "ugly" in the '50s (like Hindemith and Malipiero and...)... Martinu turned to ultra-fantasy....

about Martinu's "ultra-fantasy" or as I prefer to call it "kaleidoscopic" style, the style he developed in his last decade really seems unique to me. The kaleidoscopic effect is based on certain structural underpinnings which formed his standard procedure in the 1950s. To quote what I wrote someplace else:

"Usually, a piece begins with a certain theme or motif, and then continues via a series of freely developed, flowing episodes (which may or may not be related to the opening theme), until it reaches a terminus somewhere remote from the opening. At that point, the opening returns to complete the cycle, and is developed further in a different direction, leading to the coda. The return of the opening is reminiscent of the recapitulation in standard sonata-form structure, but due to the distance it has travelled and the fluidity of the musical processes, its return is less expected; the experience is like running into an old friend in an unfamiliar environment."
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Offline kyjo

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #875 on: November 18, 2017, 12:17:06 PM »
I’ll have to check out that Kolinsky/Ashkenazy recording. I haven’t heard it in years. Have you heard the Firkušný, Leichner, or Páleníček performances?

Nope, I haven't...(*ducks for cover*)

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #876 on: November 18, 2017, 05:40:37 PM »
Nope, I haven't...(*ducks for cover*)

No need to run for cover my friend. Check them out whenever you can.
"Music must be beautiful, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort” - Bohuslav Martinů

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Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
« Reply #877 on: November 18, 2017, 06:57:47 PM »
An excellent summary.

Thank you, kind sir.


As to snyprrr's point raised here...

about Martinu's "ultra-fantasy" or as I prefer to call it "kaleidoscopic" style, the style he developed in his last decade really seems unique to me. The kaleidoscopic effect is based on certain structural underpinnings which formed his standard procedure in the 1950s. To quote what I wrote someplace else:

"Usually, a piece begins with a certain theme or motif, and then continues via a series of freely developed, flowing episodes (which may or may not be related to the opening theme), until it reaches a terminus somewhere remote from the opening. At that point, the opening returns to complete the cycle, and is developed further in a different direction, leading to the coda. The return of the opening is reminiscent of the recapitulation in standard sonata-form structure, but due to the distance it has travelled and the fluidity of the musical processes, its return is less expected; the experience is like running into an old friend in an unfamiliar environment."

That’s quite interesting as I do hear this as well in several of his '50s works. Of course, the opera Ariane or the Oboe Concerto (both written in the late 50s), for example, show Martinu still exploring his Neoclassical style that he had been developing since his Paris years. There are many other works written around this time as well that don’t really have much to do with that ‘fantasy’ style he developed in Piano Concerto, “Incantation” or Estampes (his last work written for orchestra before his death). I suppose I’m taking the long-winded route in this post by basically saying that he was a man of many styles, but no matter what style he was working in, he always sounded like himself.
"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 #878 on: November 20, 2017, 08:06:26 AM »
Compositional Spotlight:

Rhapsody-Concerto, H 337



By the time Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu (1890 - 1959) wrote this concerto he had made a decision to stop emulating the texture and approach of the Baroque concerto grosso and write a work more in the spirit of the typical Romantic concerto.

One of the reasons for this seems to have been that he was feeling homesick for Czechoslovakia. From 1923 to 1938 he had remained away from his homeland in favor of living and working in the lively artistic atmosphere of Paris, where he embraced the neo-classical ideal. He had just about decided to move home in 1938 when the Nazi German occupation began. After the war another exploratory trip to Prague had come to nothing when the Soviet-backed Communist party took full power in 1948. Unlike the Nazi occupation, which Martinu could envision ending as soon as Germany went to war with the Allies, there was now no prospect for liberation.

Unlike his prior concerto-grosso-like works, where even single soloists tended to intertwine with equally important orchestral strands in neo-classical polyphony, this is a work where the soloist is clearly the protagonist, playing in contrast to the orchestra, if not in full opposition to it, as is often the case in Romantic concertos. (It is perhaps because Martinu was not ready to write a concerto in such a "heroic" mood that he chose as soloist the viola, one of the instruments considered the least assertive.

The textures are, however, that of a regular concerto, not a concerto grosso. Martinu's regular polyphony is de-emphasized. Being a bit unfair to his early music, Martinu wrote that now he was ready to move "from geometry back to fantasy.”

This tendency to use a texture that is based more on melody-plus-harmony than on multiple independent lines naturally emphasizes the melodies, and it is attention to them that gives a clue to his intentions. The concerto is unusually rich in melodies, and most of them are Moravian folk songs from Martinu's childhood or themes he wrote in their spirit. Many of them have the typical phrase-by-phrase shifting from major to minor that is characteristic of Moravian music and which Dvorák used in his own Slavonic works. It is Martinu's reliance on successions of melody rather than formal development as the main structural element of the concerto.

The form echoes Franz Liszt's two-part Hungarian Rhapsody layout. It is in two movements, and the final movement is, like a Liszt rhapsody, a slow-fast structure. The slow part of this movement is the emotional heart of the 20-minute work. While the first movement was nostalgic but tuneful, this part is expressive of deeper longing for home and of the hardships his homeland was suffering. Then a consoling folk-like theme takes over, and the final section is fast selection of folk material with a strong rhythmic drive, but ends in a prayerful mood.

The Rhapsody-Concerto was premiered by Jascha Veissi on February 19, 1953, with George Szell conducting the Cleveland Orchestra.

[Article taken from All Music Guide]

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The Rhapsody-Concerto seems to be one of Martinů’s best-known works. I know it’s been recorded many times: Matoušek/Hogwood (Hyperion), Rysanov/Bělohlávek (BIS), Zimmermann/Conlon (Capriccio), Suk/Neumann (Supraphon), Golani/Maag (Conifer), Zemtsov/Järvi (Chandos), and Imai/DePriest (BIS). It’s a work that I try not to overplay, because it has been recorded so often like Stravinsky’s Le sacre or Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 for example. What do you guys think of this work? I consider it a masterpiece and that’s because when I do listen to it, it is absolute perfection from start to finish. Your mileage may vary however. :)
« Last Edit: November 20, 2017, 08:12:16 AM by Mirror Image »
"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 #879 on: November 20, 2017, 04:23:14 PM »
The Rhapsody-Concerto seems to be one of Martinů’s best-known works. I know it’s been recorded many times: Matoušek/Hogwood (Hyperion), Rysanov/Bělohlávek (BIS), Zimmermann/Conlon (Capriccio), Suk/Neumann (Supraphon), Golani/Maag (Conifer), Zemtsov/Järvi (Chandos), and Imai/DePriest (BIS). It’s a work that I try not to overplay, because it has been recorded so often like Stravinsky’s Le sacre or Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 for example. What do you guys think of this work? I consider it a masterpiece and that’s because when I do listen to it, it is absolute perfection from start to finish. Your mileage may vary however. :)

Certainly a very nice piece, if not at the top of my Martinů concerto list. It's also one of the few Martinů pieces I've managed to hear live - many years ago, unfortunately I don't even remember the name of the violist who performed it.
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