GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => Composer Discussion => Topic started by: Brewski on October 04, 2007, 07:27:06 AM

Title: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brewski on October 04, 2007, 07:27:06 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.)

--Bruce
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: uffeviking on October 04, 2007, 09:09:29 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.  :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: pjme on October 04, 2007, 09:32:49 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
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brewski on October 04, 2007, 11:01:36 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.  :)

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
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: pjme on October 04, 2007, 11:19:16 AM
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)

(http://g-ec2.images-amazon.com/images/I/41H7SVZPVGL._AA240_.jpg) ...alas at ca 70 € ,quite expensive

 Hyperion will soon issue a disc (vol.1) with Martinu's complete oeuvre for violin (and orch./instr.)(http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/jpegs/67671.jpg)

 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]
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: lukeottevanger on October 04, 2007, 11:20:40 AM
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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brewski on October 04, 2007, 11:39:28 AM
Hyperion will soon issue a disc (vol.1) with Martinu's complete oeuvre for violin (and orch./instr.)(http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/jpegs/67671.jpg)

 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
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: lukeottevanger on October 04, 2007, 11:49:53 AM
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.

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/31AZJZRC01L._AA240_.jpg)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brewski on October 04, 2007, 11:52:25 AM
Excellent, thanks!  And PS, I have not read the Safranek book, either--another for the "to read" list.

--Bruce
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: pjme on October 04, 2007, 11:55:29 AM
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!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Kullervo on October 04, 2007, 12:13:30 PM
Excellent. ;D

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

(http://i188.photobucket.com/albums/z245/tapiola/martinusym1dblconcerto-1.jpg)
Verrry vigorous first and what many consider his masterpiece, the Double Concerto.

(http://i188.photobucket.com/albums/z245/tapiola/martinusymphonies.jpg)
I recommend everyone pick up this set right away, before it becomes much more expensive!

(http://i188.photobucket.com/albums/z245/tapiola/martinuflutetrios.jpg)
Lovely baroque-inspired chamber pieces.

(http://i188.photobucket.com/albums/z245/tapiola/martinupc2.jpg)
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! >:()
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Kullervo on October 04, 2007, 12:22:55 PM
Hey, shouldn't this thread have a witty name like Maison du Martinů or Bohuslav's Beach house? ;D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: pjme on October 04, 2007, 01:04:37 PM
Hmmm...???? Maison de Martinu ? Or "Bohemian dwelling"? Musicbox? Mountainlodge?



Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Kullervo on October 05, 2007, 03:43:08 AM
Hmmm...???? Maison de Martinu ? Or "Bohemian dwelling"? Musicbox? Mountainlodge?

I thank you for correcting my awful French.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: pjme on October 05, 2007, 04:09:50 AM
Pas de problème ! you are welcome.

Peter

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: sound67 on October 05, 2007, 08:52:13 AM
Quote
(http://i188.photobucket.com/albums/z245/tapiola/martinusymphonies.jpg)
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
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dundonnell on October 05, 2007, 02:24:06 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!

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on October 06, 2007, 01:14:37 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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: 71 dB on October 06, 2007, 04:11:55 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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on October 06, 2007, 09:08:14 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?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on October 06, 2007, 09:09:45 AM
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.

Truly a marvelous disc.

And only last night I was listening to the Fifth Symphony from the Ancerl Gold edition.  Beautiful!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Kullervo on October 06, 2007, 09:12:39 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.

Might I suggest one of the recordings mentioned above? Martinů is peculiar in that he was little interested in keeping a legacy, and cared little for what happened to his music after he was gone. As mentioned before, he can often be accused of note-spinning. I suppose I was fortunate enough to be introduced to him through one of his great works.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brewski on October 06, 2007, 09:54:14 AM
Might I suggest one of the recordings mentioned above? Martinů is peculiar in that he was little interested in keeping a legacy, and cared little for what happened to his music after he was gone. As mentioned before, he can often be accused of note-spinning. I suppose I was fortunate enough to be introduced to him through one of his great works.

Ditto.  Do give him a chance.  I haven't heard the cello and piano disc, which may not have some of his best work, but wow--when he's good, he's really good.

--Bruce
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: 71 dB on October 06, 2007, 10:27:02 AM
So, are you judging the composer entirely from one recording of the cello-&-piano works?

No, but I am not encouraged to explore further.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Kullervo on October 06, 2007, 10:45:31 AM
No, but I am not encouraged to explore further.

That's why I'm encouraging you.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: 71 dB on October 06, 2007, 10:53:57 AM
Might I suggest one of the recordings mentioned above? Martinů is peculiar in that he was little interested in keeping a legacy, and cared little for what happened to his music after he was gone. As mentioned before, he can often be accused of note-spinning. I suppose I was fortunate enough to be introduced to him through one of his great works.
That's why I'm encouraging you.

Sorry, I didn't noticed first. I found Martinů's tonality ugly. Does he have anything where the tonality is "romantic" ?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: DavidW on October 06, 2007, 11:30:40 AM
Sorry, I didn't noticed first. I found Martinů's tonality ugly. Does he have anything where the tonality is "romantic" ?

Well he also does drab, will that do? ;D  I kind of liked one or two of his string quartets, but meh I'm with you, I don't really enjoy his music that much.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: 71 dB on October 06, 2007, 11:37:00 AM
...but meh I'm with you, I don't really enjoy his music that much.

Wow, somebody is with me.  :o
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Kullervo on October 06, 2007, 01:03:28 PM
Sorry, I didn't noticed first. I found Martinů's tonality ugly. Does he have anything where the tonality is "romantic" ?

Try his symphonies, they are all from his most mature compositional period.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dundonnell on October 06, 2007, 01:20:16 PM
Or the Frescoes and Parables! They are certainly 'romantic' works!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: pjme on October 06, 2007, 01:26:47 PM
Hi 71, I will send you a copy of "Czech rhapsody" if you want  ( the CD is OOP) - I'm convinced that you will like it. A patriotic poem and Psalm 23 combined in a mighty cantata for baritone, chorus,organ and orch.( Elgar would have approved :)).
It is very early Martinu and totaly unlike the works he wrote later.

I agree that works from his neo-classical period have" too many notes" ( the 2- piano concerto...), but there is much else to discover. Start with some slow movements of the symphonies : nr 2 and 4 = just ravishing! The late chambermusic ( ca 1957-1959) can be warm, lush and almost romantic ( Nonetto , Chambermusic 1) - they speak of  great sadness ( cfr. Prokofiev in exile...), old age, nostalgia, love

Peter
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on October 06, 2007, 04:38:35 PM
Or the Frescoes and Parables! They are certainly 'romantic' works!

In fact, I was just listening to these this evening.  Beautifully evocative works, exquisitely colored scores.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on October 06, 2007, 04:47:56 PM
I've also listened to three discs of piano solo music, and I've enjoyed every note of them, as well.  Hey! I just like it.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on October 06, 2007, 08:13:34 PM
Hmm...never though of Martinů as needing a makeover - "romantic" or otherwise.

Seems to me he's just fine the way he is, just as X is fine the way X is.

I will say this, though: echt-Martinů is a difficult thing to pin down. He's all over the map style-wise. From his more ingratiatingly mainstream works like his opera Julietta, his fifth string quartet, and his third violin sonata; to his more quixotic/conceptual works like his minimalistic opera Comedy on the Bridge, his La Revue de Cuisine, and his Concert for Piano Trio and String Orchestra; to his flat-out "tuneful/heart on sleeve" works like his Rhapsody-Concerto for Viola and Orchestra and first cello sonata; and finally to his folk influenced works like his Five Madrigal Stanzas for violin and piano.

Which is not to imply he had no artistic voice - far from it. It's just that jumping from style to style - and doing it easily - seemed to come with his muse.

Anyway, it's all good listening, at the very least!


Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: 71 dB on October 06, 2007, 10:45:05 PM
Try his symphonies, they are all from his most mature compositional period.

okey, thanks! Symphonies then...

Or the Frescoes and Parables! They are certainly 'romantic' works!

okey, thanks!

Hi 71, I will send you a copy of "Czech rhapsody" if you want  ( the CD is OOP) - I'm convinced that you will like it. A patriotic poem and Psalm 23 combined in a mighty cantata for baritone, chorus,organ and orch.( Elgar would have approved :)).
It is very early Martinu and totaly unlike the works he wrote later.

I agree that works from his neo-classical period have" too many notes" ( the 2- piano concerto...), but there is much else to discover. Start with some slow movements of the symphonies : nr 2 and 4 = just ravishing! The late chambermusic ( ca 1957-1959) can be warm, lush and almost romantic ( Nonetto , Chambermusic 1) - they speak of  great sadness ( cfr. Prokofiev in exile...), old age, nostalgia, love

Peter

Very kind gesture Peter!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on October 07, 2007, 12:05:51 AM
Truly a marvelous disc.

And only last night I was listening to the Fifth Symphony from the Ancerl Gold edition.  Beautiful!

That is a terrific disc too. I have an older Supraphon Ancerl Czech PO Historical CD with Symphony 5, Parables, Lidice Memorial and Frescoes of Piero della Francesca. Perhaps the greatest collection of his music on a single CD.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: lukeottevanger on October 07, 2007, 12:26:21 AM
Yes, that's the one I was talking about above - and I agree: the single finest Martinu disc, surely, though the original Turnovsky Symph 4/Tre Ricercare LP runs it very close
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on October 07, 2007, 07:40:52 AM
Yes, that's the one I was talking about above - and I agree: the single finest Martinu disc, surely, though the original Turnovsky Symph 4/Tre Ricercare LP runs it very close

Have only grown to appreciate Tre Ricercare recently. Have to confess leaping up to the record player, after playing Turnovsky's epic Fourth Symphony performance, and turning it off after the first few bars of Tre Ricercare in the LP days! The Apex super cheap CD with the 4th symphony, Ricercare and "Incantations" Piano Concerto is, I agree, another front runner for best Martinu CD available.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on October 07, 2007, 08:47:46 AM
Haven't heard that Turnovsky disc myself. Must investigate...

While we're on the subject, another contender for great Martinů discs:


(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/0f/09/4bbba2c008a0d57c96e23010.L.jpg)



Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: pjme on October 07, 2007, 09:08:24 AM
(http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/images/records/rca74321886822.jpg)

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
 
 
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Kullervo on October 07, 2007, 12:25:04 PM
(http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/images/records/rca74321886822.jpg)

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?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: pjme on October 07, 2007, 11:42:56 PM
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
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Kullervo on October 08, 2007, 07:10:48 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!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: rubio on October 08, 2007, 11:49:07 AM
While we're on the subject, another contender for great Martinů discs:

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/0f/09/4bbba2c008a0d57c96e23010.L.jpg)

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?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on October 08, 2007, 04:16:33 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.



Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: rubio on October 09, 2007, 07:07:14 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."
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: not edward on October 09, 2007, 10:22:35 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).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: lukeottevanger on October 09, 2007, 10:33:20 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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: not edward on October 09, 2007, 10:35:03 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. :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: lukeottevanger on October 09, 2007, 10:36:56 AM
I have avoided the Naxos recordings of the symphonies...

You lucky devil
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brewski on October 09, 2007, 10:59:38 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
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on October 09, 2007, 05:36:17 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!



Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on October 10, 2007, 03:37:59 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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: toledobass on October 10, 2007, 03:43:19 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 (http://www.good-music-guide.com/forum/index.php/topic,1034.0.html)

Peace,

Allan
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: mjwal on October 16, 2007, 02:32:21 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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: 71 dB on October 16, 2007, 03:23:01 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...

 ???
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Kullervo on October 16, 2007, 03:40:12 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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Harry on October 16, 2007, 03:43:48 AM
Next get the complete symphonies on Chandos.

Yeah, that's still waiting for me too, allthough I have a few cycles allready. ;D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: 71 dB on October 16, 2007, 04:01:05 AM
Next get the complete symphonies on Chandos.

I see. Added to my Wishlist. Maybe it's turn becomes before year 2040.  ;D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: The new erato on October 16, 2007, 04:02:55 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?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Harry on October 16, 2007, 04:07:32 AM
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?

The Martinu Symphonies turned up allright on budget price with Chandos it self. ;D
The Glazunov's  released by Brilliant I have allready, and I can tell you, its not my cup of tea.
Also am in the process of playing the BIS cycle and think it better, mind you I still prefer the Orfeo set with Jarvi.
The Naxos cycle is a non starter for me.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: The new erato on October 16, 2007, 05:05:28 AM
The Martinu Symphonies turned up allright on budget price with Chandos it self. ;D
The Glazunov's  released by Brilliant I have allready, and I can tell you, its not my cup of tea.
Also am in the process of playing the BIS cycle and think it better, mind you I still prefer the Orfeo set with Jarvi.
The Naxos cycle is a non starter for me.
Thanks, useful reply.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: rubio on January 04, 2008, 03:02:07 AM
I think about getting a set of Martinu's symphonies, and I'm wondering if I should go for Neumann or Thomson. The question is basically if the Royal Scottish National Orchestra can compete with the glorious Czech PO in this music? I already have some individual recordings (Ancerl, Sejna, Turnovsky). 

(http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/e9/9d/ea2c225b9da02ae385e8f010._AA240_.L.jpg)  (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/3181V08R9WL._AA240_.jpg)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on March 30, 2008, 01:45:13 PM
Just added a great new Martinu CD to my collection: Symphony No 4, Estampes and Le Depart (Walter Weller, National Orchestra of Belgium) on the Fuga Libera label. The performance of Symphony No 4 is terrific with an especially overpowering slow movement.  The other pieces are very fine too. Strongly recommended.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: John Copeland on March 31, 2008, 04:17:56 AM
The question is basically if the Royal Scottish National Orchestra can compete with the glorious Czech PO in this music? I already have some individual recordings (Ancerl, Sejna, Turnovsky).

Bryden Thomsom and the RSNO are a formiddable force.  I may get this myself.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dundonnell on October 02, 2008, 05:27:31 AM
Trawling through the JPC/CPO German site for future releases I came across an exciting new Martinu release from Supraphon(due later this month). It is of the 1918 Czech Rhapsody for baritone, chorus and organ, 'Magic Nights'-three songs to Chinese texts for soprano and orchestra, and 'Nipponari'-seven songs for soprano and small orchestra.

These are all early Martinu compositions: 1912-18, but it should be fascinating to hear what Martinu's music sounded like before he travelled to Paris in the twenties.

http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/hnum/8584727?rk=classic&rsk=preview&page=17

Good news for Martinu fans :) :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on October 02, 2008, 03:44:41 PM
Trawling through the JPC/CPO German site for future releases I came across an exciting new Martinu release from Supraphon(due later this month). It is of the 1918 Czech Rhapsody for baritone, chorus and organ, 'Magic Nights'-three songs to Chinese texts for soprano and orchestra, and 'Nipponari'-seven songs for soprano and small orchestra.

These are all early Martinu compositions: 1912-18, but it should be fascinating to hear what Martinu's music sounded like before he travelled to Paris in the twenties.

http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/hnum/8584727?rk=classic&rsk=preview&page=17

Good news for Martinu fans :) :)

Oh, it's down here too! :) As I said on the WAYLT thread...well, here's what I said snipped from that thread:

Thanks for posting this. Looks very interesting indeed.

Belohlavek is wonderful in Martinu and Dagmar Peckova is a fabulous mezzo that doesn't get the attention she deserves. Hers is the type of voice that can cure the common allergy to vocal recitals.


Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dundonnell on October 02, 2008, 03:47:56 PM
I did apologise for cross-posting ;D

It was simply that I feared less some of those members who had talked recently about listening to and enjoying Martinu might miss this thread :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on October 02, 2008, 03:55:33 PM
Hey, any reason is a good reason for a twin posting of Martinu!



Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Catison on October 03, 2008, 04:52:30 AM
How is this recording?

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41Yxrkx3keL._SL500_AA240_.jpg)

Its only $12 at Amazon right now.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on October 03, 2008, 05:08:25 AM
I haven't heard it, but I read the reactions of a few people who have, on a list I belong to. The overall response was tepid. Still, for that price it won't hurt very much  :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dundonnell on October 03, 2008, 05:13:20 AM
Don't know :(

Sure that I read a review somewhere not that long ago but I've searched back through the last year and a half of Gramophone and International Record Reviews and can't find it :(

You could-almost certainly-do better though with Bryden Thomson(on Chandos) or Vaclav Neumann(Supraphon) or Neeme Jarvi(BIS). Belohlavek has recorded some but not all for Chandos as well. If you want a Czech orchestra then the Neumann set is as good as any.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Catison on October 03, 2008, 08:27:42 AM
Don't know :(

Sure that I read a review somewhere not that long ago but I've searched back through the last year and a half of Gramophone and International Record Reviews and can't find it :(

You could-almost certainly-do better though with Bryden Thomson(on Chandos) or Vaclav Neumann(Supraphon) or Neeme Jarvi(BIS). Belohlavek has recorded some but not all for Chandos as well. If you want a Czech orchestra then the Neumann set is as good as any.

I already have Thomson; I was just wondering how these stack up.  I remember getting Thomson for almost the same price.  Thanks for the info guys.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: not edward on October 03, 2008, 09:40:55 AM
I already have Thomson; I was just wondering how these stack up.  I remember getting Thomson for almost the same price.  Thanks for the info guys.
I strongly prefer Neumann over Thomson: I found his performances more lively rhythmically and much more distinctively phrased, with some lovely wind playing. I also like Ancerl in 5 and 6, and Belohlavek in 3 and 4.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Catison on October 03, 2008, 09:57:33 AM
How is this recording?

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41Yxrkx3keL._SL500_AA240_.jpg)

Its only $12 at Amazon right now.

Too many people must have been interested, because now the price is $37.

From Amazon.        Price:   $11.98 + $25.00 sourcing fee & eligible for free shipping with Amazon Prime

Ok, I'm not interested anymore, when I can get all three Neumann discs for the same price.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on October 03, 2008, 04:42:04 PM
I strongly prefer Neumann over Thomson: I found his performances more lively rhythmically and much more distinctively phrased, with some lovely wind playing. I also like Ancerl in 5 and 6, and Belohlavek in 3 and 4.

Yes, Neumann is another strong Martinu advocate, in the symphonies and overall.



Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on October 03, 2008, 10:24:34 PM
Ok, I'm not interested anymore, when I can get all three Neumann discs for the same price.

If all you have is Thomson, then I think the most important thing, if you're fishing for alternatives, is to get the symphonies played by the Czech Philharmonic. You can't go wrong with that orchestra conducted by either Ancerl, Neumann, or Belohlavek.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dundonnell on December 04, 2008, 08:52:37 AM
Write up in the 'What Are You Listening To?" thread.

The Czech Rhapsody is bombastic, patriotic, nonsense which sometimes feels as if is going to come completely unstuck at times....but it IS great fun ;D ;D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on December 04, 2008, 10:41:07 AM
The Jarvi BIS Cycle is now on Brilliant, dirt cheap.

http://www.selections.com/AH736/martinu-symphonies-1-6-3cds/?searchtext=martinu
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Maciek on December 04, 2008, 12:00:50 PM
Thanks for the heads-up!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Kuhlau on December 26, 2008, 04:53:22 PM
Martinu is a composer I know only by name, so I have this coming from Amazon:

(http://img399.imageshack.us/img399/6193/chan10316bx6.jpg)

I'm also getting this for comparison:

(http://www.musicweb-international.com/classRev/2001/Aug01/Martinu_Symphonies_Neumann.jpg)

FK
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on December 26, 2008, 07:14:50 PM
Although most of it is "light," and therefore not in contention for Greatest Piano Music of the Century, FK, I find his piano solo music unfailingly engaging.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: SonicMan46 on December 27, 2008, 08:46:19 AM
Martinu is a composer I know only by name, so I have this coming from Amazon:

(http://img399.imageshack.us/img399/6193/chan10316bx6.jpg)  (http://www.musicweb-international.com/classRev/2001/Aug01/Martinu_Symphonies_Neumann.jpg)

Well, glad that this thread has been reactivated - have little Martinu myself - just the 2 discs below of 'chamber works' (and one w/ just a sextet) -  ::)

But would really like to obtain one of those Symphony sets shown above - both have been discussed previously in this thread w/ some leaning of opinions towards the Neumann, I believe.  :)

Will give my 2 Martinu discs a spin shortly -  :D

(http://giradman.smugmug.com/photos/443599647_RWPPK-S.jpg)  (http://giradman.smugmug.com/photos/443599655_qhwW2-S.jpg)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Kuhlau on December 27, 2008, 12:03:30 PM
I'm particularly interested to discover how Thomson will fare beside Neumann. Both are great conductors, but the former seems often to be unjustly overshadowed by bigger names. To stray OT for a moment, take his Bax symphonies cycle versus that of Handley. I've heard both and have no hesitation in saying that I feel Thomson's is the stronger of the two.

FK
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Guido on April 17, 2009, 07:33:29 AM
Lebrecht on Martinu - http://www.scena.org/columns/lebrecht/090318-NL-Martinu.html

One of the few articles where he is not being negative - in fact he writes glowingly about the great man.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on April 17, 2009, 08:54:58 AM
One of the few articles where he is not being negative - in fact he writes glowingly about the great man.

Yes, a surprisingly warm contribution from the great cynic.

It's funny, but another critic a lot of people can't stand (David Hurwitz) was one of the people who turned me on to Martinu in the first place. For that reason, I retain a soft spot for the cranky SOB  :D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: nut-job on April 17, 2009, 09:40:58 AM
I'm particularly interested to discover how Thomson will fare beside Neumann. Both are great conductors, but the former seems often to be unjustly overshadowed by bigger names. To stray OT for a moment, take his Bax symphonies cycle versus that of Handley. I've heard both and have no hesitation in saying that I feel Thomson's is the stronger of the two.

FK

I think Thomson overdoes them in places, drives them too hard with too exaggerated sense of dynamics, when more of a rhapsodic approach would work better.  Some parts have a neo-baroque flavour that gets lost in Thomson's versions.  I have the Valek set on Supraphon which I think I got on a pricing error (new release, 3 disc set for $12).  Doesn't blow me away, but lets the music breath.

 
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Kuhlau on April 17, 2009, 11:52:05 PM
Thanks for the replies, chaps. I'm still weighing up Thomson against Neumann. I'd say the latter has the edge so far.

FK
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on April 18, 2009, 11:29:37 AM
Confessions of a "gave Martinu every chance in the book" addict:

I find him pretty equal with pieces I really don't like, and pieces I love. First, the love:

Syms. 6-9: yea, I know, but Syms. Fantastiques, Estampes, and Parables DO have all in common, ushering in M.'s "late style."  I'm not a fan of syms.1-5, generally, but everyone knows how his style really congealed in sym.6. Especially, the Parables are very rare and exquisite. Also in this category are the Fresques. I think this is truly mid-20th cent. impressionism at its finest. Basically, every work of the 50s exhibits the Martinu that speaks to me.

Piano Ctos 4-5: same style, same applies. I have the RCA, and I do find all the ctos. "fun."

Nonet (1959)/ Chamber Music No.1: no one has mentioned M.'s greatest??? chamber work.  Once again, late Martinu, same applies.

SQ No.7 "Cto. de Camera": M.'s last, and only SQ that "sounds" like late M. Not a big fan of SQs 1-6.  Is this the perfect neo-classical SQ?

String Sextet (1930?): I think this is a minor masterpiece in the rep. To me, it doesn't sound so much like other M. from the period.  It has a darkness and seriousness I like (as opposed to the tough vnc. sonatas, which I'm not fond of).

Piano Qnt No.2: on ASV w/Dvorak. Another "glorious" work.

Lidice: nuff said. Great piece.

Inventions for piano and orch: one of my favs from the 20s-30s. Very "gothic" sounding. The Piano Trio Ctos 1-2, SQ Cto, Double Cto, and others from the period I have varying degrees of "eh". Depends on mood.

Flute Sonata: out of all those flute trios, and mixed ensembles, this one is just, well, nice. Find a cd with Martinu/Hindemith/Prokofiev/Poulenc for the perfect sonata recital.

Tre Ricercar and "the other piece I can't remember": both are on the Hogwood/Decca disc. More "gothic" fun.

Sinf. La Jolla and Sinf. Giocosa: once again, "fun", the Giocosa being very substantial. Generally, I seem to like the piano ctos. Both, also on the Hogwood disc.



ok...I'm getting tired...point being that it seems you have to listen to a lot of Martinu to get the picture. The person who rejected M. from the cello sonatas points up the problem. I, too, really don't like his tough, dark sonatas, but thankfully I came to Martinu first through Symphonies Fantastiques. Why didn't anyone just recommend this perfect piece?  Technically, it is his best calling card piece, no? Mysterious and life affirming.
Now, in all this confusion I have forgotten all the Martinu I don't like (I can do without the "jazz", the violin sonatas, many ctos), and there is even more that I do like (once again, anything from the 50s).

For anyone coming to Martinu cold, please read all the good advice. Remember, wisdom is learning from other people's mistakes!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: nut-job on April 18, 2009, 01:32:48 PM
Syms. 6-9: yea, I know, but Syms. Fantastiques, Estampes, and Parables DO have all in common, ushering in M.'s "late style."  I'm not a fan of syms.1-5, generally, but everyone knows how his style really congealed in sym.6. Especially, the Parables are very rare and exquisite. Also in this category are the Fresques. I think this is truly mid-20th cent. impressionism at its finest. Basically, every work of the 50s exhibits the Martinu that speaks to me.

Ok, you've lost me, there are only 6 Symphonies.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on April 18, 2009, 07:01:28 PM
...point being that it seems you have to listen to a lot of Martinu to get the picture.

That's good advice but you don't have a single Martinu opera on your list! This was no side diversion for Martinu - it was his main event. He wrote prolifically for the stage.

Don't let another moment pass before you hear Julietta and then move on to whatever else you can find (opera-wise) on Supraphon. :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on April 18, 2009, 09:55:02 PM
I like much of Martinu's music and think highly of Bryden Thomson's set of the symphonies. Like Mark (I think I've got that right!), I think that his Bax cycle is very good and his performance of Nympholept much better than the hyped up Vernon Handley recording (or the Naxos version). As for Martinu - nothing for me is as good as Martin Turnovsky's version of Symphony No 4 (my intro to Martinu on LP). Other favourites are The Parables (after St Exupery), Frescoes of Piero della Francesca and the Field Mass. He is generally well served on record and I enjoyed Walter Weller's new recording of Symphony No 4. I wished I'd seen Julietta on stage when I had the chance.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: sul G on April 18, 2009, 10:41:56 PM
As for Martinu - nothing for me is as good as Martin Turnovsky's version of Symphony No 4 (my intro to Martinu on LP).

Absolutely. The same goes for me too, and in fact for all sorts of people I have met - that Turnovsky disc seems to have played a large role in successfully introducing Martinu to hundreds of listeners. It is by far the most persuasive Martinu symphony recording I know of, and it seems that I say it every time a Martinu thread comes up (or someone else does, as here)!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on April 19, 2009, 03:51:28 AM
Absolutely. The same goes for me too, and in fact for all sorts of people I have met - that Turnovsky disc seems to have played a large role in successfully introducing Martinu to hundreds of listeners. It is by far the most persuasive Martinu symphony recording I know of, and it seems that I say it every time a Martinu thread comes up (or someone else does, as here)!

Thanks, some people tend to argue that because of its nostalgic associations for many - its musical merits have been exaggerated - this is not my view. It remains my favourite Martinu recording - in a class of its own.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: nut-job on April 19, 2009, 06:12:23 AM
Thanks, some people tend to argue that because of its nostalgic associations for many - its musical merits have been exaggerated - this is not my view. It remains my favourite Martinu recording - in a class of its own.

Well, this recording is not distributed in the US, not clear if it is currently distributed anywhere else.  Is this it?  http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/product//0927498222.htm (http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/product//0927498222.htm)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on April 19, 2009, 07:15:29 AM
Well, this recording is not distributed in the US, not clear if it is currently distributed anywhere else.  Is this it?  http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/product//0927498222.htm (http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/product//0927498222.htm)

Yes, that's the one. The Piano Concerto No 4 is also a very good work. A great bargain CD.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on April 19, 2009, 05:36:14 PM
Martinu Syms. 6-9:

Symphonies Fantastiques (Sym No.6)
Parables
Estampes

It was noted somewhere how the latter two exhibit many of the Martinu's symphonic practices (along with being 3 mvmts each). Listen to them all in a row. If you think about the last two as unnumbered symphonies, I think you get a great sense of Martinu's final development, a kind of hyper impressionism fusing Debussy and Janacek. The Estampes especially have a slight rarified air to them.

There are not that many more late orchestral works (The Rock, Thunderbolt, Overture- not unless you want to count them all as "Sym.10"!). And of course, Piano Cto No.5.

Operas?....a list?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: nut-job on April 19, 2009, 07:47:53 PM
Martinu Syms. 6-9:

Symphonies Fantastiques (Sym No.6)
Parables
Estampes

It was noted somewhere how the latter two exhibit many of the Martinu's symphonic practices (along with being 3 mvmts each). Listen to them all in a row. If you think about the last two as unnumbered symphonies, I think you get a great sense of Martinu's final development, a kind of hyper impressionism fusing Debussy and Janacek. The Estampes especially have a slight rarified air to them.

There are not that many more late orchestral works (The Rock, Thunderbolt, Overture- not unless you want to count them all as "Sym.10"!). And of course, Piano Cto No.5.

Operas?....a list?

If someone other than Martinu is to fix the numbering of his symphonies, I think it should be someone who has demonstrated the ability to count.  Even if we include the two pieces that you have decided are symphonies, that would make 8, not 9.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on April 19, 2009, 07:48:55 PM
Operas?....a list?

It's really very simple:

Don't let another moment pass before you hear Julietta and then move on to whatever else you can find (opera-wise) on Supraphon. :)

Leave off all the orchestral talk for a while and explore some of Martinu's other greatest contributions to music. If you think his symphonies are great, try Julietta. A masterpiece like no other.

Coming on so strong like I am really isn't my style but it gets my goat that all this wonderful Martinu talk seems to totally ignore his operas. To me Martinu should really be honored for his complete contribution to music, not just those symphonic works. It's almost like paying tribute to Schubert without mention of his songs.

So, in answer to your query: Operas?....a list?

Your list:

• Comedy On The Bridge
• The Knife's Tears
• The Greek Passion
• The Voice Of The Forest
• Three Wishes
• The Epic Of Gilgamesh (oratorio)

• This passionate disc of choral works (if you enjoy Lidice you'll like this disc):


(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ZvjWnmLLL._SS400_.jpg)


And, of course:


(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51tlxOkxK7L._SS400_.jpg)

 0:)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on April 19, 2009, 08:12:35 PM
Even if we include the two pieces that you have decided are symphonies, that would make 8, not 9.

We can get to 9 if we include Frescoes of Piero della Francesca. I'm surprised he didn't mention that one, since it may be Martinu's most frequently performed orchestral work (and certainly one of his best).


• This passionate disc of choral works (if you enjoy Lidice you'll like this disc):

Heartily seconded. I love that disc. The wonderful naive hymn that concludes Mount of Three Lights ought to be detached and sung in church.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: nut-job on April 20, 2009, 07:30:18 AM
We can get to 9 if we include Frescoes of Piero della Francesca. I'm surprised he didn't mention that one, since it may be Martinu's most frequently performed orchestral work (and certainly one of his best).

Excellent.  I recommend you hasten to listen to Brahms Symphony #13.  (Brahms also wrote many works he did not realize were symphonies, but I know better.)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dundonnell on April 20, 2009, 01:06:51 PM
Did anybody else buy the Supraphon disc containing the Czech Rhapsody, 'Nipponari' and 'Magic Nights'? I enthused about these early vocal/choral works a few months ago(page 4 of this thread).

Jeffrey...I know that you have heard the pieces ;D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Bulldog on April 20, 2009, 01:16:25 PM
Excellent.  I recommend you hasten to listen to Brahms Symphony #13.  (Brahms also wrote many works he did not realize were symphonies, but I know better.)


That's an excellent wise-guy response.  Of course, each of us is free to call an orchestral work a symphony, but doing so can only create confusion.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on April 20, 2009, 08:54:44 PM
I think nut-job has a point though. ;D

I've been trying to squelch my hysterics :o! THAT was funny 0:)!

Counting IS a fundamental buildingblock of society. oy :-[

So Mahler comes to Martinu in a dream...

Seriously, I think I meant Fresques, Parables, Estampes as an analogy to imaginary syms. 7-9, plus, leading off the pack, Symphonies Fantastiques, making it 6-9.

wow...good save!
but I appreciate nut-job's comments. Made my day! ;)Brahms 13 too. :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on June 14, 2009, 07:07:44 AM
Cato is now on the Martinů bandwagon!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on December 03, 2009, 12:06:08 AM
I went to an all-Martinu concert at the Conservatory last night.

The combined forces of 2 chamber orchestras (one based in Moscow and the other in St. Petersburg), plus soloists and a conductor I'd never heard of, played 2 double concertos (the flute/violin one & the piano/timpani one), plus the suite from the opera Comedy on the Bridge.

The Flute/Violin Cto was new to me - it dates from the 1930s and sounds to me as if poised between his earlier neo-Baroque style (which I find less interesting) and the more complex style he was starting to develop about that time. On a first hearing, I liked this piece, but it didn't strike me as top-drawer Martinu. There was some muddled playing in the orchestra, which didn't help.

The Piano/Timpani Cto, of course, is a major masterpiece, and it did come across that way. It was maybe a bit more frantic than it should have been and there were some balance issues, but the players put it across with a lot of conviction. They even encored the finale.

This concerto, however, has the distinction of being the only Martinu piece I've managed to hear twice in concert. The last time was under Martin Turnovsky at the Prague Spring festival in 2002. Turnovsky and his players produced a much tighter and more focused reading at that time, which is hardly surprising, as the music was probably a lot more familiar to them then it was to these Russian players.

I'm not complaining, though. How often does one get a chance to hear an all-Martinu event outside the Czech Republic?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on December 09, 2009, 09:53:24 AM
Bringing this to the attention of Martinu-ites: the BBC has a nice program analyzing the 2nd PC and the Inventions (for piano & orch.):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00p69gh

Good till Sunday, so hurry!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: pjme on December 10, 2009, 05:05:02 AM
Maris Jansonss and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw O. will play Martinu's Concerto for Double stringorch.,piano and timpani Friday 18th in Brussels. I suppose they'll be touring with the same program through Europe?

On the same program : Smetana : The bartered bride ovt; and Brahms' symph. nr 4

P;
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on December 10, 2009, 05:06:10 AM
Excellent program!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 08, 2010, 04:39:31 PM
(http://www.wdr3.de/fileadmin/user_upload/Allgemeine_Bild-Datenbank/01_Personen/1_Musiker/Martinu_-Bohuslav11182701.jpg)
 
Along with Leos Janacek, Bohuslav Martinu was one of the twin giants of Czech music in the twentieth century, a composer with a distinctly individual voice and a versatility that led him to excel in every medium from stage works to symphonies to string quartets. Martinu was born in the Moravian town of Policka. Starting violin lessons at the of seven, he gave his first recital when he was 15. By the age of 10 he had written his first compositions; his juvenilia include songs, piano music, symphonic poems, string quartets, and ballets. In 1906, he entered Prague Conservatory, but reading and the theater diverted Martinu from his studies, and he was finally expelled for "incorrigible negligence" in 1910.

However, he continued composing. Exempted, as a teacher, from military service, Martinu produced many works during the World War I, including the patriotic cantata Czech Rhapsody (1918). Although this work and two ballets, Istar (1918-1921) and Who is the Most Powerful in the World? (1922-1923), gained favorable attention. Martinu felt the need for additional training. Returning to the Conservatory, he studied composition Josef Suk, later working in Paris with Albert Roussel, whose muscular, rhythmically vigorous music eventually influenced Martinu's own.

Martinu's music was well received in postwar Paris. Like many of his contemporaries, Martinu absorbed the influence of jazz, as evidenced in such works as the ballet La revue de cuisine (1927), which also incorporates South American rhythms, and the one-act operaLes larmes du couteau (The Tears of the Knife; 1928). In 1930, Martinu's constant desire to learn more led him to the music of Corelli, Vivaldi, and Bach, signaling a new concern with rhythmic continuity and contrapuntal technique.

Following the resounding success of his opera Juliette in Prague in 1938, World War II forced Martinu to flee his adopted home of Paris. After spending nine miserable months in the south of France, the composer and his wife made their way to Spain, and then to America, in the early months of 1941. For the duration of the war, Martinu lived in various cities in the Eastern United States, surviving on commissions and producing five symphonies by 1946.

Though Martinu had planned to return to Czechoslovakia after the war, injuries and health problems prevented him from traveling. After Czechoslovakia fell to the communists in 1949, it gradually became clear to Martinu that he was no longer welcome in his native land, a source of great pain to him. He eventually regained his health, however, producing such works as the Sixth Symphony (1951-1953), widely regarded as a masterpiece, two operas for television, and many chamber compositions. Martinu became an American citizen but spent much time in Europe; in 1953-5 he was based in Nice and in 1955-6 he was teaching at the American Academy in Rome. After a final New York sojourn he took up residence as the guest of Paul Sacher in Liestal, Switzerland, where he died in 1959.

Harry Halbreich's catalog of Martinu's music, to which the composer did not assign opus numbers, lists nearly 400 compositions. Well established in the repertoire, Martinu's best works confirm Martinu's status as an important twentieth century composer.
 
[Article taken from All Music Guide]

I just love Martinu now, but I went through a period where I just wasn't attracted to any of his music. I guess my turning point was hearing Double Concerto for String Orchestra. This work is what finally turned me onto his music. The recording I heard was Jiri Belohlavek/Czech Philharmonic on Chandos, which is coupled with his very underrated Symphony No. 1. I think Martinu's music at its best incorporates very strong rhythms with lush harmony (he was a big fan of unique chord voicings) with excellent orchestration. From here, I bought many recordings including complete symphony cycles with Thomson/Chandos, Jarvi/BIS, and Valek/Supraphon. I also have most of Belohlavek recordings both on Supraphon and all of his Chandos recordings.
Anyway, what do all of you think of this composer? Do you have any recommendations for someone just getting into Martinu? What are you favorite works?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: not edward on July 08, 2010, 04:41:53 PM
You might want to look at the older thread: http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,3689.0.html
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 08, 2010, 04:43:52 PM
You might want to look at the older thread: http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,3689.0.html (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,3689.0.html)

Oh crap....I didn't know a thread already existed and I did a search too. I guess I didn't put in the correct name. I put Martinu instead of Martinů.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 08, 2010, 08:50:32 PM
There's also a thread devoted specifically to the chamber music:

http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,10236.msg255433.html#msg255433
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 09, 2010, 05:00:37 PM
I just love Martinu now, but I went through a period where I just wasn't attracted to any of his music. I guess my turning point was hearing Double Concerto for String Orchestra. This work is what finally turned me onto his music. The recording I heard was Jiri Belohlavek/Czech Philharmonic on Chandos, which is coupled with his very underrated Symphony No. 1. I think Martinu's music at its best incorporates very strong rhythms with lush harmony (he was a big fan of unique chord voicings) with excellent orchestration. From here, I bought many recordings including complete symphony cycles with Thomson/Chandos, Jarvi/BIS, Neumann/Supraphon, and Valek/Supraphon. I also have most of Belohlavek recordings both on Supraphon and all of his Chandos recordings.

I'm becoming more and more interested in his music and learning all of his musical phases. There is one set of Martinu recordings that I've been eyeballing for the past few months and they are the Christopher Hogwood recordings with the Czech Philharmonic on Hyperion. Hogwood seems an unlikely Martinu conductor, but I've heard nothing but good things. Anybody here own these Hyperion recordings (I think there's four volumes)?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on July 09, 2010, 05:22:15 PM
I just love Martinu now, but I went through a period where I just wasn't attracted to any of his music. I guess my turning point was hearing Double Concerto for String Orchestra. This work is what finally turned me onto his music. The recording I heard was Jiri Belohlavek/Czech Philharmonic on Chandos, which is coupled with his very underrated Symphony No. 1. I think Martinu's music at its best incorporates very strong rhythms with lush harmony (he was a big fan of unique chord voicings) with excellent orchestration. From here, I bought many recordings including complete symphony cycles with Thomson/Chandos, Jarvi/BIS, Neumann/Supraphon, and Valek/Supraphon. I also have most of Belohlavek recordings both on Supraphon and all of his Chandos recordings.

I'm becoming more and more interested in his music and learning all of his musical phases. There is one set of Martinu recordings that I've been eyeballing for the past few months and they are the Christopher Hogwood recordings with the Czech Philharmonic on Hyperion. Hogwood seems an unlikely Martinu conductor, but I've heard nothing but good things. Anybody here own these Hyperion recordings (I think there's four volumes)?

I only know the Hogwood disc on Decca, which has lots of good stuff.

Has anyone heard the Inventions, three pieces for orchestra with piano? I like them best out of his baroque period.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on July 09, 2010, 05:47:23 PM
LOL ;D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Sid on July 09, 2010, 07:06:00 PM
Like some other composers of the century (Milhaud, Hovhaness, Villa-Lobos), Martinu was very prolific, and perhaps this worked against him. When buying a Martinu disc without knowing the music, it could either turn out to be a masterpiece or just one of those pieces he wrote to (maybe) pay the bills. But I have never heard anything by him that didn't engage me on some level, even if it's relatively light like his Sinfonietta "La Jolla." In that work (as in others, no doubt) the slow movement has these repetitive ostinato phrases which surely prefigure Steve Reich?

I also like the intensity of the Double Concerto for piano, timpani and string orchestra, which was virtually a protest against the Nazi invasion of his homeland (the Nazis didn't miss the subtext, and it was the first of his works to be banned in occupied Europe). His music is often connected to current political events, such as the sorrowful Memorial to Lidice or the Symphony No. 4 (which I understand was written as the events of D-Day were occuring). Another political work is the haunting Field Mass, written in memory of soldiers who died in the war (don't remember if it was WW1 or 2?).

I have not yet heard any of his chamber, solo piano, or choral/operatic works. His music seemed to encompass many styles, from Romanticism, Impressionism and the various strands of Modernism. I really like the way he uses colour in his music, it has this lightness and delicacy. The Frescoes of Piero Della Francesca are probably one of the best evocations of visual art by a classical composer.

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on July 09, 2010, 10:13:01 PM
Like some other composers of the century (Milhaud, Hovhaness, Villa-Lobos), Martinu was very prolific, and perhaps this worked against him. When buying a Martinu disc without knowing the music, it could either turn out to be a masterpiece or just one of those pieces he wrote to (maybe) pay the bills. But I have never heard anything by him that didn't engage me on some level, even if it's relatively light like his Sinfonietta "La Jolla." In that work (as in others, no doubt) the slow movement has these repetitive ostinato phrases which surely prefigure Steve Reich?

I also like the intensity of the Double Concerto for piano, timpani and string orchestra, which was virtually a protest against the Nazi invasion of his homeland (the Nazis didn't miss the subtext, and it was the first of his works to be banned in occupied Europe). His music is often connected to current political events, such as the sorrowful Memorial to Lidice or the Symphony No. 4 (which I understand was written as the events of D-Day were occuring). Another political work is the haunting Field Mass, written in memory of soldiers who died in the war (don't remember if it was WW1 or 2?).

I have not yet heard any of his chamber, solo piano, or choral/operatic works. His music seemed to encompass many styles, from Romanticism, Impressionism and the various strands of Modernism. I really like the way he uses colour in his music, it has this lightness and delicacy. The Frescoes of Piero Della Francesca are probably one of the best evocations of visual art by a classical composer.

I like all these works and Parables (after St Exupery). I've just ordered the Neumann set of the symphonies which I look forward to hearing, although I like the box set by the much underrated Bryden Thomson.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 09, 2010, 11:40:08 PM
Has anyone heard the Inventions, three pieces for orchestra with piano? I like them best out of his baroque period.

Yeah - that's fun, "spicy" music. I think there's only one recording of it (Neumann/CzPO).


I also like the intensity of the Double Concerto for piano, timpani and string orchestra, which was virtually a protest against the Nazi invasion of his homeland (the Nazis didn't miss the subtext, and it was the first of his works to be banned in occupied Europe). His music is often connected to current political events, such as the sorrowful Memorial to Lidice or the Symphony No. 4 (which I understand was written as the events of D-Day were occuring) [sic-actually that was #3]. Another political work is the haunting Field Mass, written in memory of soldiers who died in the war (don't remember if it was WW1 or 2?).

I think the political aspects of some of these works shouldn't be overstated. From what I've read, there were various impulses behind them. The Double Concerto was also written at the time of his tempestuous romance with the young composer Vitezslava Kapralova, which was threatening his marriage, and VK's early death in 1940 cast a kind of reflective pall over a lot of his works thereafter. The contemporaneous 5th String Quartet also reflects this period of tension.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 10, 2010, 12:49:42 AM
I like all these works and Parables (after St Exupery). I've just ordered the Neumann set of the symphonies which I look forward to hearing, although I like the box set by the much underrated Bryden Thomson.

"Parables" is a great work. I have only one recording of it with Belohlavek and the Czech Philharmonic. I really enjoy Thomson's Martinu cycle. I think he brings a much needed power to the scores and offers a different interpretation that one may not be accustomed to hearing.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 10, 2010, 12:52:10 AM
Yeah - that's fun, "spicy" music. I think there's only one recording of it (Neumann/CzPO).

Yes, that is correct. It is coupled with Symphonies 5 & 6.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: not edward on July 10, 2010, 04:05:21 AM

"Parables" is a great work. I have only one recording of it with Belohlavek and the Czech Philharmonic.
I'd suggest you try to hear Ancerl. The sound isn't as good as Belohlavek has, but I think performance-wise it is greatly superior.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 10, 2010, 04:39:39 AM
There used to be a disc, which I was smart/lucky enough to buy, containing the Ancerl recordings of Parables, Frescoes, Memorial to Lidice, and the 5th Symphony. It was the Single Greatest Martinu Disc ever put together. Supraphon broke it in two for their Ancerl Gold edition.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on July 10, 2010, 05:17:25 AM
There used to be a disc, which I was smart/lucky enough to buy, containing the Ancerl recordings of Parables, Frescoes, Memorial to Lidice, and the 5th Symphony. It was the Single Greatest Martinu Disc ever put together. Supraphon broke it in two for their Ancerl Gold edition.

Yes, those Ancerl discs are terrific.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 10, 2010, 05:21:21 AM
There used to be a disc, which I was smart/lucky enough to buy, containing the Ancerl recordings of Parables, Frescoes, Memorial to Lidice, and the 5th Symphony. It was the Single Greatest Martinu Disc ever put together. Supraphon broke it in two for their Ancerl Gold edition.

Funny, that, I've been playing it just now. It is indeed a very special disc. Also been listening to Ancerl's 6th, and also to Arianne, which is linked to the third of the Parables. It's Martinu weather here, what can I say!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 10, 2010, 05:36:01 AM
It's Martinu weather here, what can I say!

Well it's ******* hot and muggy here but I just listened to the Nonet and it cooled me off a little. Next up will be La Revue de Cuisine and maybe a couple of "madrigals" (all part of a Hyperion duo I've had for years).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 13, 2010, 12:42:12 PM
You know it's very surprising that Martinu isn't performed more in the concert halls. I would love to one his symphonies or concerti, especially the ones for piano, violin, cello, and oboe. I would love to hear Double Concerto for String Orchestra performed live. I bet the Czech Philharmonic program a good bit of Martinu, but other parts of the world don't. It's funny how this works, but here in the United States we don't get to hear enough American composers. What a shame.
 
I have been enjoying Vaclav Neumann's Martinu recordings lately. I'm about to listen to his disc of the violin concerti.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 13, 2010, 01:45:14 PM
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. :)

A wise decision. I haven't heard the Fagen recordings, but I don't think I need to. They have received unfavorable reviews by Martinu fans and considering I own what I consider to be the best of the best in Martinu's recorded output, I won't be picking these duds up.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 13, 2010, 01:52:19 PM
Martinu is a composer I know only by name, so I have this coming from Amazon:

(http://img399.imageshack.us/img399/6193/chan10316bx6.jpg)

I'm also getting this for comparison:

(http://www.musicweb-international.com/classRev/2001/Aug01/Martinu_Symphonies_Neumann.jpg)

I have finally got around to buying the Neumann. I have to say I have only heard his performance of "Symphony No. 4" right now and have to say I'm very impressed with it. I think I understand better what Scarpia was telling me a few days ago in another thread about how Thomson exaggerates certain phrases. I think this Neumann cycle may very well end up being my favorite Martinu symphony recordings along with Jiri Belohlavek and Ancerl.
 
Martinu's music, as Scarpia mentioned to me, is more rhapsodic and Romantic gestures simply don't work with his music. I understand this more and more as I listen to Martinu and absorb his music. He's coming from more of a Neo-Classical angle with tight structure and rhythms, but as I have mentioned I believe his harmony is more impressionistic. Very ambiguous, which lends the music a very mysterious and airy quality.
 
Edit: I now heard the entire set of Martinu symphonies with Neumann/Czech Philharmonic. It blows away Thomson easily. Neumann is more in tune with Martinu's music and what it's trying to express.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Sid on July 13, 2010, 06:18:22 PM
There's a fair amount of Martinu's (& guys like Poulenc's) chamber pieces played here live in Sydney. The symphonies of Dvorak seem to get more of an airing than Martinu, but I can understand why. Dvorak's symphonies have been solidly in the repertoire for about 50 years, whereas Martinu has only been (re?)discovered in the past 20 years or so (outside Czech Republic).

Of his symphonies that I've heard so far, I really like the 2nd. It has a pastoral feel, is quite light and short. I espeicially like the scherzo, which has this lilting Czech theme, and suggestions of marching bands (a nod to Ives perhaps, or maybe just a suggestion of war?). I have the Berlin Symphony Orchestra conducted by Flor, coupled with the 1st, and out of print (I got it for only $2). I've also got the 4th, which is also ok (but still getting my head around it), and will probably get some more of them on Naxos, they're at the right price and I'm not really fussed about getting the "definitive" recording. I don't think anything is "definitive," it's all pretty subjective. I've got Fagen conducting Martinu's piano concertos on Naxos, and they sound pretty good to me (a musical illiterate, but expert listener if that's not a contradiction :D)...
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 13, 2010, 06:25:32 PM
There's a fair amount of Martinu's (& guys like Poulenc's) chamber pieces played here live in Sydney. The symphonies of Dvorak seem to get more of an airing than Martinu, but I can understand why. Dvorak's symphonies have been solidly in the repertoire for about 50 years, whereas Martinu has only been (re?)discovered in the past 20 years or so (outside Czech Republic).

Of his symphonies that I've heard so far, I really like the 2nd. It has a pastoral feel, is quite light and short. I espeicially like the scherzo, which has this lilting Czech theme, and suggestions of marching bands (a nod to Ives perhaps, or maybe just a suggestion of war?). I have the Berlin Symphony Orchestra conducted by Flor, coupled with the 1st, and out of print (I got it for only $2). I've also got the 4th, which is also ok (but still getting my head around it), and will probably get some more of them on Naxos, they're at the right price and I'm not really fussed about getting the "definitive" recording. I don't think anything is "definitive," it's all pretty subjective. I've got Fagen conducting Martinu's piano concertos on Naxos, and they sound pretty good to me (a musical illiterate, but expert listener if that's not a contradiction :D )...

Martinu's Symphony No. 4 is an excellent work. It is, no doubt, one of those works that you will have to spend more time with, but I liked the first time I heard it. The symphony that always kind of bothered me was his Symphony No. 1. I'm still trying to understand this work better, but I'm much comfortable with it than I was a few years ago. All of this has to do with spending time with the music.
 
Those Fagen Naxos discs aren't that special. Nothing remotely passioinate about them. Fagen isn't a particularly inspired conductor anyway. As I said Neumann, Belohlavek, and Ancerl are my to-go-to Martinu conductors. I'm looking forward to hearing some Christopher Hogwood's recordings, that is, when the price is right.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Sid on July 13, 2010, 06:59:01 PM
Agreed, Martinu is a type of composer who I feel I have to absorb over a period of time (a bit like later American composers Morton Feldman or Elliot Carter, Martinu is highly preoccupied with shape & colour - look at the way he uses the piano in all of his symphonies). I think I read that Martinu taught Hovhaness. He seemed to absorb that "open" feeling inherent in much American music, and perhaps paved the way for later composers to build upon his ideas.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 13, 2010, 07:01:39 PM
Agreed, Martinu is a type of composer who I feel I have to absorb over a period of time (a bit like later American composers Morton Feldman or Elliot Carter, Martinu is highly preoccupied with shape & colour - look at the way he uses the piano in all of his symphonies). I think I read that Martinu taught Hovhaness. He seemed to absorb that "open" feeling inherent in much American music, and perhaps paved the way for later composers to build upon his ideas.

You wouldn't happen to be Andre from the TalkClassical forum would you? It's okay I won't tell anyone....hehehehe....
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Sid on July 13, 2010, 07:13:43 PM
Yes, I must admit, I should've been open about that - but wanted to avoid it since not good memories from TC. I'd seen that you've changed from that, wanted to know whether you were open to more change? Anyway, hope we can get on here, as we had some arguments over there. I'm still on TC, been here for about 6 months on & off, but I've virtually stopped collecting & going to more concerts - hence my bias (it's not all or nothing, as I made out, I'm almost (?) as passionate about concerts as you are probably regarding collecting, but I do have other unrelated hobbies so maybe I'm not in that league. Music is a bit like rigorous, involved "therapy" for me, nothing more. I have cast my net wider since TC, I've got a wider range since then (but obviously music of the last 50 years of prime interest?). I'm more into piano, organ, choral, chamber, concertos, etc. etc.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 13, 2010, 07:21:16 PM
Yes, I must admit, I should've been open about that - but wanted to avoid it since not good memories from TC. I'd seen that you've changed from that, wanted to know whether you were open to more change? Anyway, hope we can get on here, as we had some arguments over there. I'm still on TC, been here for about 6 months on & off, but I've virtually stopped collecting & going to more concerts - hence my bias (it's not all or nothing, as I made out, I'm almost (?) as passionate about concerts as you are probably regarding collecting, but I do have other unrelated hobbies so maybe I'm not in that league. Music is a bit like rigorous, involved "therapy" for me, nothing more. I have cast my net wider since TC, I've got a wider range since then (but obviously music of the last 50 years of prime interest?). I'm more into piano, organ, choral, chamber, concertos, etc. etc.

I thought it was you. Just the way you type and the way you kept mentioning concerts in Sydney. It's alright. I've been to a few concerts here and there and it was a fun experience, but very expensive. I saw Petrenko conduct the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra many months ago and that was enjoyable, but I would just like to see more variety in concert programs, specifically more obscure works that hardly get performed.
 
Anyway, about those disagreements, it's all in good fun and I'm over that now. We're two mature adults with two very different minds. I hope to interact with you on a more positive level.
 
I'll probably never give up my collecting, because a great deal of my free time is listening to music. I have been making some cuts here and there, but my rapid pace of collecting is nothing like used to be. I just buy 15 recordings at a time now. ;)  :D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Sid on July 13, 2010, 07:32:59 PM
Yes, music is an addiction, whether collecting, downloading, concert-going, etc. I'm trying to be a "minimalist" now. It's not only for reasons of finance, but also "head-space." I find that the more music I listen to in a short space of time, the harder it is for me to absorb it fully. I don't think it matters whether I'm listening to something by D. Scarlatti, F. Couperin or Crumb or Golijov - I want to give it time. That's the thing with works like Martinu's 4th symphony - it sounds "easy" compared to something (say) by Carter, but I wouldn't bet my money on that being the fact. The only work of his that I understood straight away was Sinfonietta La Jolla. Surely that repetitive, ostinato slow movement must have influenced Steve Reich? I think that Martinu must have made an impact on US composers, the same way I can hear elements of contemporary US composers in his music (Copland, Ives with their "big" open feel)?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 13, 2010, 07:43:48 PM
Yes, music is an addiction, whether collecting, downloading, concert-going, etc. I'm trying to be a "minimalist" now. It's not only for reasons of finance, but also "head-space." I find that the more music I listen to in a short space of time, the harder it is for me to absorb it fully. I don't think it matters whether I'm listening to something by D. Scarlatti, F. Couperin or Crumb or Golijov - I want to give it time. That's the thing with works like Martinu's 4th symphony - it sounds "easy" compared to something (say) by Carter, but I wouldn't bet my money on that being the fact. The only work of his that I understood straight away was Sinfonietta La Jolla. Surely that repetitive, ostinato slow movement must have influenced Steve Reich? I think that Martinu must have made an impact on US composers, the same way I can hear elements of contemporary US composers in his music (Copland, Ives with their "big" open feel)?

Some interesting comments, Sid. I just listened to Sinfonietta La Jolla for the first time today and it was quite enjoyable. I'm not sure if Reich had heard Martinu's music or not, but it makes one wonder considering Martinu was using a minimalistic type of technique during that movement. The thing about Martinu's music for me is it seems to always have this open, airy sound to it, which as I mentioned many posts above I contribute to those very enigmatic chord voicings he favors. His music is very well structured and the rhythms he uses are very Neo-Classical sounding, but it's those chord voicings that elevate his music to a higher plateau.
 
Reading more about Martinu's life he was somewhat of a nomad (I think of him the same way I think of Delius in this regard). He traveled alot during his life. Lived in Czechoslovakia, then in France, then Spain, then the US, then back to Europe to live in Switzerland. I mean all of those influences he absorbed along the way must have also impacted his music. He was deeply influenced by jazz, especially in his American years. He even wrote a jazz ballet suite that he regards as his favorite composition.
 
It's just interesting for me to hear a composer like Martinu, because his music never quite hits you right away, but then there comes a most ingenius musical passage and that's when the music hits you. I intend on exploring more of his music and the recordings I own.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 13, 2010, 08:29:37 PM
Just skimming the above, bleary-eyed from sleep, and only wanted to say a couple of things, all re the 4th, really

1) I think the 4th is an immediately appealing work, possibly the simplest and most direct work Martinu composed. If you are finding it harder work than others of his pieces, I'd suggest a different recording. Of the 4th, Turnovsky's is THE classic recording - it's been responsible for mor Martinu Damascene conversions than any other disc, I'd imagine. Fagen is utterly horrible in the 4th, to a degree which makes me quite angry  ;D The work he presents is a travesty of the glowing, joyful, radiant piece this really is.

2) OK, the slow movement isn't exactly joyful. But it still has that peculiar luminosity to it. And it also has more of those proto-minimalist textures you were talking about, especially in those unearthly final pages. (Actually, they are all over this symphony, but in the slow movement they are most exposed and spell-binding). I mention this only because it is something that seems to have grabbed your attention in the Sinfonietta La Jolla, so it might be the hook which helps with the 4th too.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Sid on July 13, 2010, 08:39:14 PM
I'll have to go back and listen to the 4th, I haven't heard it in a while. I've got Walter Weller's performance (I think the orchestra is from London?) on EMI. & yes, I do like the "mimimalistic" feel of Martinu's slow movements. He really pointed to new horizons in his music, although it is not always highly engaging as a whole at the first listen. I mean, the Double Concerto for piano, strings & timpani grabbed me more than his Sinfonia Concertante or Concerto for String Quartet. But as I said, I have to go back & give these works another listen (I've got them all on an EMI Gemini 2 disc set).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 13, 2010, 08:56:04 PM
I bet the Czech Philharmonic program a good bit of Martinu, but other parts of the world don't.

I lived in Prague for a couple of years, and my impression was that Martinu is the second most played Czech composer, after Dvorak, with Janacek and Smetana battling it out for the bronze medal.

1) I think the 4th is an immediately appealing work, possibly the simplest and most direct work Martinu composed. If you are finding it harder work than others of his pieces, I'd suggest a different recording. Of the 4th, Turnovsky's is THE classic recording

I'm a bit puzzled by this statement. I don't find the 4th simple at all - from an emotional (if not really a structural) standpoint, there seems to be many different layers to it, with each mvt. having its own distinctive emotional profile and atmosphere. I think by far the simplest symphony is the 2nd. As to recordings, while I haven't heard the famous Turnovsky, I find the most recent Belohlavek version (on Supraphon) close to ideal.

Quote
2) OK, the slow movement isn't exactly joyful. But it still has that peculiar luminosity to it. And it also has more of those proto-minimalist textures you were talking about,

Speaking of proto-minimalism, the most proto-minimal thing I've heard from Martinu is the first mvt. of Toccata e due canzone, which is a fascinating work in its wide-ranging nature. The first couple of minutes sound like something by Steve Reich.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 13, 2010, 09:08:41 PM

I'm a bit puzzled by this statement. I don't find the 4th simple at all - from an emotional (if not really a structural) standpoint, there seems to be many different layers to it, with each mvt. having its own distinctive emotional profile and atmosphere.

That's kind of my point, though. IMO we get too hung up on trying to penetrate the emotional 'content' or 'meaning' of a piece sometimes, when in the case of the 4th, though we might not know exactly what that emotional trajectory 'means', the structures, as you say, are incredibly clear, and the emotional profiles of each movement, as you also say, are very clear and distinct. That is enough, to my mind, to make a work easily accesible, simple, if you like. We 'kind of get it' straightaway, understand the language, hear the large-scale rhymes and rhythms, because the music speaks so clearly, even if we don't quite comprehend the deeper inferences immediately.

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 14, 2010, 07:46:18 AM
I'll have to go back and listen to the 4th, I haven't heard it in a while. I've got Walter Weller's performance (I think the orchestra is from London?) on EMI. & yes, I do like the "mimimalistic" feel of Martinu's slow movements. He really pointed to new horizons in his music, although it is not always highly engaging as a whole at the first listen. I mean, the Double Concerto for piano, strings & timpani grabbed me more than his Sinfonia Concertante or Concerto for String Quartet. But as I said, I have to go back & give these works another listen (I've got them all on an EMI Gemini 2 disc set).

Martinu's Double Concerto for String Orchestra is a killer work no question about it. So full of angst, bitterness, it's as if somebody really pissed Martinu off. :D Anyway, this was my gateway into understanding Martinu more. My better understanding of his symphonies didn't happen until much later. As I said earlier, his Symphony No. 1 still confounds me, but I'm enjoying it the more I listen to it..
 
All of this said, Martinu wrote a lot of throwaway works as well. I do not like a lot of his ballet music, because they don't sound like him. I will probably listen to Spalicek again today which is a ballet written for voices, chorus, and orchestra. I will report back to this thread my impressions of this work later.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 14, 2010, 12:30:55 PM
That's kind of my point, though. IMO we get too hung up on trying to penetrate the emotional 'content' or 'meaning' of a piece sometimes, when in the case of the 4th, though we might not know exactly what that emotional trajectory 'means', the structures, as you say, are incredibly clear, and the emotional profiles of each movement, as you also say, are very clear and distinct. That is enough, to my mind, to make a work easily accesible, simple, if you like. We 'kind of get it' straightaway, understand the language, hear the large-scale rhymes and rhythms, because the music speaks so clearly, even if we don't quite comprehend the deeper inferences immediately.

I loved the 4th right when I heard it. I love Symphonies Nos. 5 & 6 as well. Such amazingly beautiful music.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Sergeant Rock on July 14, 2010, 01:16:16 PM

Martinu's music, as Scarpia mentioned to me, is more rhapsodic and Romantic gestures simply don't work with his music. I understand this more and more as I listen to Martinu and absorb his music. He's coming from more of a Neo-Classical angle with tight structure and rhythms, but as I have mentioned I believe his harmony is more impressionistic. Very ambiguous, which lends the music a very mysterious and airy quality.
 
Edit: I now heard the entire set of Martinu symphonies with Neumann/Czech Philharmonic. It blows away Thomson easily. Neumann is more in tune with Martinu's music and what it's trying to express.

I'm looking for another cycle to compliment Järvi's. Since Scarpia and I usually disagree on performances, I'm skeptical about Neumann. Curious to know what each of you think of this comment about Neumann's cycle from Gramophone's E.S., a critic I often agree with (he's not very keen on Thomson's either):

"Acceptable might best describe the performances too. It's that last degree of fantasy coupled with a certain potency in the rhythms that I miss. Where Martinu's confidence rises, where optimism goes into overdrive and the music quite literally jumps for joy, Neumann is still very much in first gear. The infectious scherzo of the Fourth is a case in point—hopelessly pale and sluggish. Neumann fares best in Martinu's homesick reveries where the Czech woodwinds can be so reassuring or so bleak, as the case may be, but Järvi and the Bamberg Symphony (BIS) still offer the most compelling complete cycle to date."

Sarge
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 14, 2010, 01:25:09 PM
I'm looking for another cycle to compliment Järvi's. Since Scarpia and I usually disagree on performances, I'm skeptical about Neumann. Curious to know what each of you think of this comment about Neumann's cycle from Gramophone's E.S., a critic I often agree with (he's not very keen on Thomson either):

"Acceptable might best describe the performances too. It's that last degree of fantasy coupled with a certain potency in the rhythms that I miss. Where Martinu's confidence rises, where optimism goes into overdrive and the music quite literally jumps for joy, Neumann is still very much in first gear. The infectious scherzo of the Fourth is a case in point—hopelessly pale and sluggish. Neumann fares best in Martinu's homesick reveries where the Czech woodwinds can be so reassuring or so bleak, as the case may be, but Järvi and the Bamberg Symphony (BIS) still offer the most compelling complete cycle to date."

Sarge

I disagree with that Gramophone critic's opinion. I find the Neumann cycle the most consistent of all the cycles I've heard. I do enjoy Jarvi's cycle too, but for me, Neumann seems like he's more in-tune with the music than Jarvi. One significant advantage Jarvi and Thomson have is superior audio, but the Neumann has very good audio quality as well, in fact, better than I expected it to be considering these were recorded in the 70s and Supraphon haven't always yielded the best results when it came to audio.
 
I take what most critics say with a grain of salt and would rather get the opinion of somebody who has spent more time with the music and knows the music much better. One thing to remember though is everybody is a critic, but I own all the Martinu symphony cycles and right now Neumann and Jarvi are my favorites.
 
This is one instance in which I agree with Scarpia. Martinu is not a Romantic and shouldn't be played that way. This is the thing that I can finally say that bugs me about the Thomson cycle. Neumann conducts the music in a more free-flowing, rhapsodic, lyrical style that suits Martinu like a glove. This is not to say that Neumann doesn't get aggressive when he needs to be, because there's plenty of aggressiveness and intensity in these intepretations.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: not edward on July 14, 2010, 02:57:37 PM
Sarge,

I think the best way I could come up with to describe Neumann's Martinu is this: if you like things like his Leipzig Mahler, you'll like it. It has very much the same overall feel to me: very naturally phrased and played, and avoiding interpretative extremes: superficially, at least, a 'non-interventionist' style.

I consider it massively superior to Thomson, though the recent Belohlavek 3rd and 4th might have the edge for me amongst recent recordings that may lead to full cycles. (I haven't heard Jarvi and doubt his way with Martinu would convince me.)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Scarpia on July 14, 2010, 03:01:32 PM
I'm looking for another cycle to compliment Järvi's. Since Scarpia and I usually disagree on performances, I'm skeptical about Neumann. Curious to know what each of you think of this comment about Neumann's cycle from Gramophone's E.S., a critic I often agree with (he's not very keen on Thomson's either):

Actually I've never heard Neumann's Martinu, Mirror was commenting that his impression of Neumann's recording matched my idea of how it should be played.  Actually, Mirror panned my preferred recording (Valek).  But, I think it may be useful to explore Martinu outside the symphonies.  Martinu wrote most of his symphonies during a short period of time, and unlike many composers, they are not the defining genre for him.  He wrote many wonderful concerti for diverse groups of instruments, and other types of orchestral music.   Belohlavek is a great conductor of Martinu and this release as some wonderful misic on it:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51DhEP4erqL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 14, 2010, 03:03:36 PM
Sarge,

I think the best way I could come up with to describe Neumann's Martinu is this: if you like things like his Leipzig Mahler, you'll like it. It has very much the same overall feel to me: very naturally phrased and played, and avoiding interpretative extremes: superficially, at least, a 'non-interventionist' style.

I consider it massively superior to Thomson, though the recent Belohlavek 3rd and 4th might have the edge for me amongst recent recordings that may lead to full cycles. (I haven't heard Jarvi and doubt his way with Martinu would convince me.)

I'm not that impressed with Jarvi, but it's better than Valek's, Thomson's, and Fagen's cycles. The overall problem with conductors like Jarvi and Thomson is that they don't understand Martinu's idiom enough to conduct with any kind of authority. Jarvi fairs better in late-Romantic music and Thomson is better with English composers. I mean this could be disputed all day long, but Neumann really did a fantastic job with these symphonies I think and Sarge should definitely consider them.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 14, 2010, 03:12:57 PM
Actually I've never heard Neumann's Martinu, Mirror was commenting that his impression of Neumann's recording matched my idea of how it should be played.  Actually, Mirror panned my preferred recording (Valek).  But, I think it may be useful to explore Martinu outside the symphonies.  Martinu wrote most of his symphonies during a short period of time, and unlike many composers, they are not the defining genre for him.  He wrote many wonderful concerti for diverse groups of instruments, and other types of orchestral music.   Belohlavek is a great conductor of Martinu and this release as some wonderful misic on it:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51DhEP4erqL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

That is a very good recording. Neumann, Ancerl, and Belohlavek are my to-go-to Martinu conductors. The reason I panned the Valek recordings is they lacked rhythmic vitality and given when the recordings were made pretty recently (around 2005 or 2006) the audio quality could have been better.
 
His symphonies may very well not be an important part of his output in your opinion, but they are going to be works that most people explore at some time or another if they're going to get into Martinu's music. Just because you feel they're unimportant doesn't mean that somebody else will feel this way.
 
Sarge if you usually don't see eye-to-eye with Scarpia's recommendations, then avoid the Valek like the plague. Go for the Neumann. You won't be sorry.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Daverz on July 14, 2010, 03:57:27 PM
I'm looking for another cycle to compliment Järvi's. Since Scarpia and I usually disagree on performances, I'm skeptical about Neumann. Curious to know what each of you think of this comment about Neumann's cycle from Gramophone

You can get the Neumann recordings separately.  I'd start with 1+2 (http://www.amazon.com/Bohuslav-Martinu-Symphonies-Nos/dp/B00000JN0I).  (In any case, like a lot of pre-1994 Supraphons, the discs in the older box have pre-emphasis, and many modern CD players don't apply de-emphasis).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Sid on July 14, 2010, 03:59:15 PM
I listened to my recording of the 4th Symphony (with the Royal Liverpool/Walter Weller on EMI). I think there is a kind of hyperactivity in this work (as the liner notes say), the changes in mood and tempo give guys like Stravinsky a run for their money. There is much repetition here too, but with slight changes, which remind me of minimalism (especially the slow movement, which has this big climax towards the middle, after mounting tension). There seems to be a battle between a theme with a heavy beat and a gentler Czech theme at the end, and the symphony ends in a triumphant way. It was finished just as the D-Day landings were occuring.

I can't say I fully grasp this symphony as yet, but repeated listening will further my understanding of it, no doubt. I will also listen to the other works on the 2 cd set & tell you all about my impressions later.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Sergeant Rock on July 14, 2010, 04:22:57 PM
Thanks, guys. I appreciate the comments, the recommendations. I ordered several items from Amazon. It's late here (after 3 a.m.) and I'm tired. I'll answer more fully tomorrow.

Sarge
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 14, 2010, 04:26:34 PM
You can get the Neumann recordings separately.  I'd start with 1+2 (http://www.amazon.com/Bohuslav-Martinu-Symphonies-Nos/dp/B00000JN0I).  (In any case, like a lot of pre-1994 Supraphons, the discs in the older box have pre-emphasis, and many modern CD players don't apply de-emphasis).

I would have bought them individually, but it was cheaper for me to buy the box set. The recording of Symphonies Nos. 5 & 6 have an extra orchestral work called Iventions on it that sounded really good. My advice to Sarge is if he can buy the CDs individually, then get them, but if not, then just get box set.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Scarpia on July 14, 2010, 04:28:02 PM
Thanks, guys. I appreciate the comments, the recommendations. I ordered several items from Amazon. It's late here (after 3 a.m.) and I'm tired. I'll answer more fully tomorrow.

I see.  The one thing that puzzles me, I am under the impression we normally agree about recordings.   After all, you haven't had you bazooka smiley out recently.  ;D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Sergeant Rock on July 14, 2010, 04:35:23 PM
I see.  The one thing that puzzles me, I am under the impression we normally agree about recordings.

Do we? Maybe we do now. But you know, Scarpia, you tend to disagree forcefully with everybody--and I would never voluntarily put myself in a different, elitist category from everybody else  :D

Sarge
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 14, 2010, 07:16:56 PM
Do we? Maybe we do now. But you know, Scarpia, you tend to disagree forcefully with everybody--and I would never voluntarily put myself in a different, elitist category from everybody else  :D

Sarge

Yes he does, but then when somebody gives him a taste of his own medicine, so to speak, he gets mad and blocks you. How immature is that?  ::)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on July 14, 2010, 07:24:24 PM
I'm looking for another cycle to compliment Järvi's. Since Scarpia and I usually disagree on performances, I'm skeptical about Neumann. Curious to know what each of you think of this comment about Neumann's cycle from Gramophone's E.S., a critic I often agree with (he's not very keen on Thomson's either):

"Acceptable might best describe the performances too. It's that last degree of fantasy coupled with a certain potency in the rhythms that I miss. Where Martinu's confidence rises, where optimism goes into overdrive and the music quite literally jumps for joy, Neumann is still very much in first gear. The infectious scherzo of the Fourth is a case in point—hopelessly pale and sluggish. Neumann fares best in Martinu's homesick reveries where the Czech woodwinds can be so reassuring or so bleak, as the case may be, but Järvi and the Bamberg Symphony (BIS) still offer the most compelling complete cycle to date."

Sarge

I'm with the others, Sarge. The way I see it this Gramophone review misses the mark completely. "Very much in first gear"? Not to my ears.

Now, I don't have any non-Czech performances of the symphonies for comparison but the four Neumann symphonies I have plug right into Martinu's quirky aesthetic perfectly. Perhaps the reviewer likes his Martinu less quirky, less colorful, with fewer surprises (leaning more towards the mainstream?) but to slight these qualities is to rip the heart right out of Martinu.

The rest of my Martinu symphonies consist of performances by Belohlavek and Sejna. All with the CzPO. They belong in the first rank, too. (I'm with Edward in his admiration for Belohlavek - EDIT: on Supraphon).

As far as the sound for Neumann, I find it perfectly pleasing. To me part of any engineer's job when recording Martinu is to allow plenty of room for the orchestra to breathe and let Martinu's many colors flower. Here I feel Supraphon does the music proud by not suffocating things while not perhaps being in that subjective "demonstration" category. No matter. The music sings here and that's what's important.   
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 14, 2010, 08:53:51 PM
Another vote for the Neumann cycle, although it's not perfect. I have a couple of problems with it: 1) the sound is a bit recessed, and 2) the percussion is weak. Also, sometimes Neumann is a bit sluggish where he should charge ahead (like the scherzo of the 1st Symphony). But on the whole it's a very solid cycle.


 Neumann, Ancerl, and Belohlavek are my to-go-to Martinu conductors.

Agreed. Stick with these guys and you won't go wrong.  :)

It was finished just as the D-Day landings were occuring.

Actually, that's the 3rd Symphony. The 4th Symphony was completed at the very end of the war (May-June 1945).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Sergeant Rock on July 15, 2010, 04:56:41 AM
Usually when one asks for a recommendation in this forum, every extant recording will be mentioned at least once plus not a few that have been OOP for fifty years ;D  But there is remarkable consistency in this thread. Don, Velimir, Daverz, MI, Edward all urged me to choose Neumann. Taking Daverz's advice (seconded by MI) I ordered the symphonies separately (the total at Amazon DE coming to the same price as the box anyway). There is unanimity about Ancerl so I also ordered his two gold edition CDs (with the Parables, Lidice and Symphonies 5 & 6). And with a nod to Luke and others who are enthusiastic about Turnovsky's Fourth, I grabbed that too.

Belohlavek and Thomson have their supporters. Future purchases perhaps.

Thanks for the help.

Sarge
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: The new erato on July 15, 2010, 05:03:45 AM
Please leave something for us!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Sergeant Rock on July 15, 2010, 05:09:02 AM
But, I think it may be useful to explore Martinu outside the symphonies.  Martinu wrote most of his symphonies during a short period of time, and unlike many composers, they are not the defining genre for him.  He wrote many wonderful concerti for diverse groups of instruments, and other types of orchestral music.   Belohlavek is a great conductor of Martinu and this release as some wonderful misic on it:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51DhEP4erqL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Hey, Scarpia. I'm sorry you left. Hope you're still reading though. If you don't come back, my bazooka will get rusty and if I ever need it again, it will be useless. So, please come back. I need the target practice  :D  :)

I have some of those pieces on another Belohlavek CD (an earlier incarnation I picked up ten, twelve years ago):

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/june2010/Martinucgtrsc.jpg)

I also have the Mackerras disc with Freques and the Double Concerto. There was a huge hole in my Martinu collection, though: no Parables. But I've plugged that gap with Ancerl's version.

Sarge
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Sergeant Rock on July 15, 2010, 05:09:52 AM
Please leave something for us!

 :D ;D :D

I had to act fast. There was only one or two copies of each of those CDs.

Sarge
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: mjwal on July 15, 2010, 05:47:46 AM
To me the Turnovsky CD with the best Symphony #4 I know and the stunning Piano Concerto #4 plus the Tre Ricercari is the Martinú disc to get. Then the Ancerl Supraphon CDs plus if you can find it the double CD from Multisonic with Ancerl conducting symphonies 1, 3 and 5. Turnovsky and Ancerl blow Järvi away as Martinú conductors, IMO (I only have the latter's 3&4 - he simply lacks Martinú's Gallic clarity of line). But I am also very taken by other non-symphonic works by this great master: Ariane (CPO Neumann, Supraphon) is a delightful and mysterious neo-baroque surrealist homage to Greek myth, the violin and viola concertos with Suk are essential, and The Epic of Gilgamesh is a great tragic masterpiece about the foundation of civilisation as we know it, Jim. There is/was a older Supraphon version conducted by Belohlávek- I have it on LP, all in Czech, containing a translation of the libretto; but if you can find it the BBC Music Magazine issue with the BBC SO & Chorus (same conductor) is in very good sound, superbly performed & sung (in Czech), and has a narration very well spoken in English (if you can find the original magazine it offers a libretto too).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Sergeant Rock on July 15, 2010, 06:20:09 AM
To me the Turnovsky CD with the best Symphony #4 I know and the stunning Piano Concerto #4 plus the Tre Ricercari is the Martinú disc to get. Then the Ancerl Supraphon CDs plus if you can find it the double CD from Multisonic with Ancerl conducting symphonies 1, 3 and 5. Turnovsky and Ancerl blow Järvi away as Martinú conductors, IMO (I only have the latter's 3&4 - he simply lacks Martinú's Gallic clarity of line). But I am also very taken by other non-symphonic works by this great master: Ariane (CPO Neumann, Supraphon) is a delightful and mysterious neo-baroque surrealist homage to Greek myth, the violin and viola concertos with Suk are essential, and The Epic of Gilgamesh is a great tragic masterpiece about the foundation of civilisation as we know it, Jim. There is/was a older Supraphon version conducted by Belohlávek- I have it on LP, all in Czech, containing a translation of the libretto; but if you can find it the BBC Music Magazine issue with the BBC SO & Chorus (same conductor) is in very good sound, superbly performed & sung (in Czech), and has a narration very well spoken in English (if you can find the original magazine it offers a libretto too).

Thanks for the recommendations. Ariane sounds especially enticing. I already have a Gilgamesh (Kosler/Slovak Phil on Marco Polo). The Belohlávek version is available, though, and cheaply.

Sarge
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 15, 2010, 09:23:39 AM
To me the Turnovsky CD with the best Symphony #4 I know and the stunning Piano Concerto #4 plus the Tre Ricercari is the Martinú disc to get. Then the Ancerl Supraphon CDs plus if you can find it the double CD from Multisonic with Ancerl conducting symphonies 1, 3 and 5. Turnovsky and Ancerl blow Järvi away as Martinú conductors, IMO (I only have the latter's 3&4 - he simply lacks Martinú's Gallic clarity of line). But I am also very taken by other non-symphonic works by this great master: Ariane (CPO Neumann, Supraphon) is a delightful and mysterious neo-baroque surrealist homage to Greek myth, the violin and viola concertos with Suk are essential, and The Epic of Gilgamesh is a great tragic masterpiece about the foundation of civilisation as we know it, Jim. There is/was a older Supraphon version conducted by Belohlávek- I have it on LP, all in Czech, containing a translation of the libretto; but if you can find it the BBC Music Magazine issue with the BBC SO & Chorus (same conductor) is in very good sound, superbly performed & sung (in Czech), and has a narration very well spoken in English (if you can find the original magazine it offers a libretto too).

It's a great post, this. Mostly because I agree with every word of it, from beginning to end  ;D  0:)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 15, 2010, 10:22:18 AM
Usually when one asks for a recommendation in this forum, every extant recording will be mentioned at least once plus not a few that have been OOP for fifty years ;D  But there is remarkable consistency in this thread. Don, Velimir, Daverz, MI, Edward all urged me to choose Neumann. Taking Daverz's advice (seconded by MI) I ordered the symphonies separately (the total at Amazon DE coming to the same price as the box anyway). There is unanimity about Ancerl so I also ordered his two gold edition CDs (with the Parables, Lidice and Symphonies 5 & 6). And with a nod to Luke and others who are enthusiastic about Turnovsky's Fourth, I grabbed that too.

Belohlavek and Thomson have their supporters. Future purchases perhaps.

Thanks for the help.

Sarge

Some great choices you made there! ;) I wish I would have bought the Neumann symphony discs individually now, because again the recording of Symphonies Nos. 5 & 6 has a work I haven't heard called Iventions. I might just buy this disc individually, so I can get this work, because it is seldom heard. Anyway, I'm so happy you took the plunge! You're not afraid to take some risks and that is what has to be done sometimes in order to find out for yourself about a specific recording.
 
Since you already bought the Neumann cycle, allow me to make some follow-up recommendations if I may. Here are some more Martinu recordings you should checkout when you have time:
 
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Z7R8Z5QAL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)  (http://www.supraphon.com/!img_katalog/SU3967_2_xl.gif)
 
(http://www.supraphon.com/!img_katalog/SU3918_2_xl.gif)
 
 
(http://img.maniadb.com/images/album/263/263268_1_f.jpg)
 
(http://ml.naxos.jp/sharedfiles/images/cds/hires/CHAN8950.jpg)
 
(http://www.supraphon.com/!img_katalog/111313_2_xl.gif)  (http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2009/Jan09/martinu_Jolla_su39582.jpg)
 
(http://www.supraphon.com/!img_katalog/SU3956_2_xl.gif)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: The new erato on July 15, 2010, 10:59:37 AM
You al seem to forget this remarkable disc with 3 extremely charming chamber cantatas which I've reported on with great enthusiasm before.

(http://www.mdt.co.uk/public/pictures/products/standard/SU39922.jpg)

No go get it!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 15, 2010, 11:01:25 AM
You al seem to forget this remarkable disc with 3 extremely charming chamber cantatas which I've reported on with great enthusiasm before.

(http://www.mdt.co.uk/public/pictures/products/standard/SU39922.jpg)

No go get it!

So does an orchestra accompany these works, erato? I'm pretty unfamiliar with Martinu's vocal and choral works.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: The new erato on July 15, 2010, 11:03:23 AM
1. The Opening of the Wells H 354/ 1955 20:43

Cantata for female chorus, soprano, contralto, baritone, recitation, two violins, viola and piano

2. The Legend of the Smoke from Potato Fires H 360/ 1956 20:11

Cantata for mixed chorus, soprano, contralto, baritone, flute, clarinet, French horn, accordion and piano

3. Mikeš of the Mountains H 375/ 1959 21:32

Cantata for mixed chorus, soprano, tenor, two violins, viola and piano

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 15, 2010, 11:04:23 AM
1. The Opening of the Wells H 354/ 1955 20:43

Cantata for female chorus, soprano, contralto, baritone, recitation, two violins, viola and piano

2. The Legend of the Smoke from Potato Fires H 360/ 1956 20:11

Cantata for mixed chorus, soprano, contralto, baritone, flute, clarinet, French horn, accordion and piano

3. Mikeš of the Mountains H 375/ 1959 21:32

Cantata for mixed chorus, soprano, tenor, two violins, viola and piano

Oh okay cool thanks erato.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on July 15, 2010, 11:07:27 AM
Very nice! I want to hear them — after I have finished my own cantata! : )
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 15, 2010, 02:18:56 PM
(http://www.supraphon.com/!img_katalog/SU3956_2_xl.gif)
 
Listening to Czech Rhapsody right now and what a powerful composition this is! Anybody else heard this recording? If not, then BUY IT NOW!!!!!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 15, 2010, 09:40:30 PM
You al seem to forget this remarkable disc with 3 extremely charming chamber cantatas which I've reported on with great enthusiasm before.

(http://www.mdt.co.uk/public/pictures/products/standard/SU39922.jpg)

No go get it!

Thank you! At last - someone not recommending the orchestral music. This is a stunning disc, I've had it for years, in its original LP release and also recently in this CD reissue. This sort of thing is the very heart of Martinu, these late chamber cantatas full of life and folkmusic and memories of his childhood - they are specifically Polickan, to coin a phrase. Adorable pieces, in a sense more important than the symphonies and operas and so on, if we are wanting to get close to Martinu the man, I think (which isn't to say that the symphonies and operas aren't more sophisticated and important pieces of course)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: The new erato on July 15, 2010, 11:09:48 PM
Thank you! At last - someone not recommending the orchestral music. This is a stunning disc, I've had it for years, in its original LP release and also recently in this CD reissue. This sort of thing is the very heart of Martinu, these late chamber cantatas full of life and folkmusic and memories of his childhood - they are specifically Polickan, to coin a phrase. Adorable pieces, in a sense more important than the symphonies and operas and so on, if we are wanting to get close to Martinu the man, I think (which isn't to say that the symphonies and operas aren't more sophisticated and important pieces of course)
I think you got that exactly right. And I've been playing Martinu since the early 70-ies, thanks to a dearth of dead cheap Supraphon recordings he was one of the first 20th century composer I got to know extensively, though this disc is a reasonably recent aquisiton of mine. It's simply gorgeous and will charm your socks off if this kind of thing appeals to you at all.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 15, 2010, 11:35:56 PM
Mirror,
could you please say a few words about that recording of Spalicek and some other works? This is a part of M's output that I'm not familiar with.

It's simply gorgeous and will charm your socks off if this kind of thing appeals to you at all.

How do these works compare to the cantatas on the "companion disc" (Mount of Three Lights etc.)? Are they similar in style?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: The new erato on July 15, 2010, 11:39:27 PM

How do these works compare to the cantatas on the "companion disc" (Mount of Three Lights etc.)? Are they similar in style?
I cannot say as I don't know them. Let's leave this one to Luke  ;D

Aaahh, a reminder of more want list material.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 15, 2010, 11:42:51 PM
You can leave it to me, but I can't answer, as that's one on my wish list! So much Martinu to explore...

BTW, a great great twofer is the Hyperion set of chamber music with the Nonet, the various 'Madrigal' pieces and so on. Again, in the Nonet, we have that late, rustic Martinu of the late cantatas, but married to the more concert-hall instrumental writing of the symphonies, say. It's a marvellous piece, that Nonet - my favourite Martinu chamber work, I think.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 15, 2010, 11:49:55 PM
BTW, a great great twofer is the Hyperion set of chamber music with the Nonet, the various 'Madrigal' pieces and so on. Again, in the Nonet, we have that late, rustic Martinu of the late cantatas, but married to the more concert-hall instrumental writing of the symphonies, say. It's a marvellous piece, that Nonet - my favourite Martinu chamber work, I think.

I've got that one, was just listening to it last weekend in fact  :) it was one of my early Martinu purchases, in 1998 or so.

I agree about the Nonet: it's one of my all-time favorite Martinu chamber works, and also one of my favorite pieces of "big" chamber music (I like it even more than Stravinsky's Octet). It's amazing to think he was dying of cancer when he wrote this, it's such a tranquil, idyllic work.

Those instrumental "madrigals" are interesting too, even if rather minor works. The one I keep coming back to is for 3 wind instruments; it makes me think of a baroque trio sonata with the continuo removed. An entertaining, quirky piece.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 15, 2010, 11:54:06 PM
Couple that Nonet up Janacek's Mladi (wind sextet) or Pavel Haas's adorable Wind Quintet, or perhaps the Nonets of Alois Haba (they are quite similar to the Martinu - it's an ensemble Czech composers seem to have liked) and you have a rather marvellous little CD of Czech chamber music for wind (or wind+) ensemble
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on July 16, 2010, 03:38:47 AM
Thank you! At last - someone not recommending the orchestral music. This is a stunning disc, I've had it for years, in its original LP release and also recently in this CD reissue. This sort of thing is the very heart of Martinu, these late chamber cantatas full of life and folkmusic and memories of his childhood - they are specifically Polickan, to coin a phrase. Adorable pieces, in a sense more important than the symphonies and operas and so on, if we are wanting to get close to Martinu the man, I think (which isn't to say that the symphonies and operas aren't more sophisticated and important pieces of course)

Yes, I knew directly that this is music I want to get to know!  Only, as I have a similar project on my own desk, I want that in the can before I admit these Martinů works to my world : )
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on July 16, 2010, 04:28:00 AM
BTW, a great great twofer is the Hyperion set of chamber music with the Nonet, the various 'Madrigal' pieces and so on. Again, in the Nonet, we have that late, rustic Martinu of the late cantatas, but married to the more concert-hall instrumental writing of the symphonies, say. It's a marvellous piece, that Nonet - my favourite Martinu chamber work, I think.

Thank you for this suggestion, Luke!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 16, 2010, 05:53:09 AM
Could you please say a few words about that recording of Spalicek and some other works? This is a part of M's output that I'm not familiar with.

I actually still haven't properly listened to Spalicek. It seems everytime I want to start listening to it I get distracted by something I would rather hear instead. I will let you know when I hear this piece.

How do these works compare to the cantatas on the "companion disc" (Mount of Three Lights etc.)? Are they similar in style?

I haven't heard the disc with Mount of Three Lights, so I obviously can't do any comparing.
 
As far as the disc with Magic Nights, Czech Rhapsody, and Nipponari, this is a great recording of some seldom heard Martinu works. All three works are amazingly beautiful. Nipponari and Magic Nights both have an impressionistic feel to them, which shows a very personal side to Martinu perhaps the same kind of side that is revealed on that Opening of the Wells recording that has been mentioned in the earlier posts above.
 
Czech Rhapsody is work cut from a very different cloth than the prior works I mentioned. This is a powerful nationalistic work that has some stunning orchestral sections. There isn't much singing in this work, but the chorus and soloist parts written for this piece don't distract and only add to it's uplifting spirit.
 
You should definitely checkout this recording sometime.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Lethevich on July 16, 2010, 06:11:02 AM
It looks as if the Nipponari disc is becoming a future buy for me. I recall Gramophone (or maybe something else) underlining the fact that the works on the disc were minor, even if enjoyable, but I love Martinu's impressionist phase - especially the first string quartet - and it sounds like the disc would be perfect for anybody looking for more of this :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on July 16, 2010, 08:12:11 AM
All kinds of great Martinu barely touched on in this thread. I, too, lament the dearth of references to such great works as the operas, the string quartets, the violin sonatas, the cello sonatas, etc...

Not to slight - at all!! - all the great great stuff mentioned lately (I love it too!) but just for the sake of balance it's important to remember that Martinu was one of the great all-rounders of the musical world - and not just the 20th c. 

By all means listen to whatever Martinu tickles your fancy (why wouldn't you? ;D) but don't let the "other" side of Martinu (opera, chamber) slip by without at least some day giving it a try.

Yeah, I've been beating this drum since this thread's inception but out of fear I'm inclined to keep rehashing it all just to keep it fresh, as it were. :) :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 16, 2010, 10:17:07 AM
Yeah, I've been beating this drum since this thread's inception but out of fear I'm inclined to keep rehashing it all just to keep it fresh, as it were. :) :)

Well it's a sensible drum to beat  :)  Problem is, there really isn't yet a consensus as to what pieces constitute the best Martinu, although one seems to be developing around the symphonies and a few of the other orchestral works (Frescoes, the Double Cto., maybe one or two other pieces).

I constantly find wonderful things in that great catalogue of obscure works. Things like:

The wonderful "starry night" slow movement of the Sinfonietta La Jolla; the weird proto-minimalism of Toccata e due canzoni; the perky Haydn imitations of the Sinfonia concertante; the serious, quasi-Brahmsian meditations of the 3rd Piano Concerto; the moving hymn that ends Mount of Three Lights; the chilling Bartokian 5th String Quartet; the fizzy hallucinations of the 4th Piano Concerto; the sassy humor of La Revue de Cuisine...I could go on, but I think I'll stop there...y'know, Dvorak and Janacek were great composers, but I don't think they had anything like Martinu's range.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 16, 2010, 04:59:37 PM
Dvorak and Janacek were great composers, but I don't think they had anything like Martinu's range.

Alot of this had to do with what Martinu was exposed to from traveling from country to country so much almost leading a nomadic existence. Martinu was influenced by impressionism, neoclassicism, and jazz. All this melded together forms a very unique sound and not to mention he was coming from a Czech angle in his music, which because of this he was seen as the most important Czech composer after Janacek.
 
I'm well aware of all his different phases, but as quirky as he sometimes could be he always retained his own unique style. It's totally up to the listener to decide what phase of his output they would like to explore, but whatever it may be, there's something for everybody to enjoy.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on July 16, 2010, 08:48:17 PM
Well it's a sensible drum to beat  :)  Problem is, there really isn't yet a consensus as to what pieces constitute the best Martinu, although one seems to be developing around the symphonies and a few of the other orchestral works (Frescoes, the Double Cto., maybe one or two other pieces).

That's a great "who's who" of Martinu pieces. Yes, the symphonies, Double Concerto, etc... (even the Oboe concerto, maybe).

A couple of works that resonate on the same level for me are Julietta and Gilgamesh. In fact, I might go so far as to say that Julietta actually belongs at the top of the heap of great Martinu. I base that on two things: its wealth of coloristic effects, and its broad, multi-layered texturing. All in all the piece is a great coming-together of all of the best from Martinu and the result is a work of extraordinary lucidity.

Which is why I go on so much about its neglect... :'(

Quote
...y'know, Dvorak and Janacek were great composers, but I don't think they had anything like Martinu's range.

Good point. Which means of course that there's a ton of Martinu to explore.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 17, 2010, 12:35:45 AM
In fact, I might go so far as to say that Julietta actually belongs at the top of the heap of great Martinu.

That would be the view of most Martinu specialists too, I think - it's his masterpiece, really, if there has to be only one. For those who don't fancy exploring his operas and would rather keep it orchestral, there's always this disc:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/519xcJG2ViL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

which is a real trip (and is in my select pile of CDs-to-take-on-holiday this year!), but the full-length piece surely must be heard by anyone who loves Martinu:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/4187CXXXH9L._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

(cover art remind you of anyone, Don?  ;) )
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Lethevich on July 17, 2010, 04:55:58 AM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/519xcJG2ViL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
I can't believe I forgot aout this - I only listened to it a month ago. It's a really beautifully produced and presented disc.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: mjwal on July 17, 2010, 10:13:59 AM
I haven't heard the Mackerras Juliette fragments, but am curious. I have tried to listen to the whole opera on the radio a couple of times but not really succeeded in grasping it. I suppose I must study the libretto while listening, so I'll have to get that recording. The original play, by the way, (by the same author who wrote the text of Ariane, Georges Neveux) inspired a late and rather unknown film by Marcel Carné (Les Enfants du Paradis) with Gérard Philipe in the main role. Another CD I recommend - and a real bargain - is a collection on Arte Nova containing the 6th symphony, partly based on the music of Juliette, I believe; the orchestral suite from the opera (no voices); and the Fresques de Piero della Francesca, played by the Symphony Orchestra St. Gallen and conducted by Jiri Kout. These are killer performances, in my opinion, despite the complete non-celebrity of the orchestra.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on July 17, 2010, 06:30:59 PM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/4187CXXXH9L._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

(cover art remind you of anyone, Don?  ;) )

It does indeed, Luke! 8) And no doubt that with such a great cover the music's gotta be great! ;)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 18, 2010, 04:17:51 PM
Just bought the recording with Mackerras listed above and all of Christopher Hogwood/Czech Philharmonic recordings on Hyperion (there's four volumes in all). Can't wait to dive into these.
 
Has anyone heard Czech Rhapsody yet? All Martinu fans must hear this work. It is powerfully moving.

I love this from Sinfonietta La Jolla played here by the great Prague Chamber Orchestra:
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPnKuIMQvp4
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 19, 2010, 05:09:48 AM
Here's a little excerpt from Symphony No. 4 with Alan Gilbert with the Berlin Philharmonic:
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwfC73_eiuI (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwfC73_eiuI)
 
Nobody sounds like Martinu. He has such an individual voice.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 19, 2010, 05:40:05 AM

Has anyone heard Czech Rhapsody yet? All Martinu fans must hear this work. It is powerfully moving.

Yes, I've  known it since I was a little boy - along with the Turnovsky 4th/Tre Ricercare it was the first Martinu I knew. But it never struck me a strongly - despite powerful moment it's rather episodic, I think, and it doesn't have the true Martinu voice just yet, which is, after all, the drug we're all seeking!  8)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 19, 2010, 05:49:53 AM
Yes, I've  known it since I was a little boy - along with the Turnovsky 4th/Tre Ricercare it was the first Martinu I knew. But it never struck me a strongly - despite powerful moment it's rather episodic, I think, and it doesn't have the true Martinu voice just yet, which is, after all, the drug we're all seeking!  8)

I am, of course, talking about the version written for voice, chorus, and orchestra. I have not heard the rearranged version of this work for violin and orchestra yet. Anyway, the performance I'm referring to is Belohlavek's on Supraphon. I think it's a beautiful piece. May not be stylistically Martinu's best, but it's still a great work with some fantastic orchestral writing.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: not edward on July 19, 2010, 06:15:47 AM
I am, of course, talking about the version written for voice, chorus, and orchestra. I have not heard the rearranged version of this work for violin and orchestra yet. Anyway, the performance I'm referring to is Belohlavek's on Supraphon. I think it's a beautiful piece. May not be stylistically Martinu's best, but it's still a great work with some fantastic orchestral writing.
Actually, they're different works. The one on the Belohlavek disc is an early piece (1918?) and the one on the Matousek/Hogwood disc is an orchestral version (not by Martinu) of a 1945 violin/piano piece.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 19, 2010, 06:16:59 AM
Here is my current Martinu collection, which includes orders I have coming:
 
-Complete Symphonies, Vaclav Neumann, Czech Philharmonic, Supraphon
-Complete Symphonies, Neeme Jarvi, Bamberg Symphony, BIS
-Complete Symphonies, Bryden Thomson, Royal Scottish National, Chandos
-Complete Symphonies, Vladimir Valek, Prague Radio Symphony, Supraphon
-Piano Concertos, Jiri Belohlavek, Czech Philharmonic, Supraphon
-Sinfonietta la Jolla, Toccata e due Canzoni, Concerto Grosso, Prague Chamber Orch., Supraphon
-Complete Music for Violin & Orchestra, Vols. 1-4, Christopher Hogwood, Czech Philharmonic, Hyperion
-The Epic of Gilgamesh, Jiri Belohlavek, Prague Symphoy Orch., Supraphon
-Nipponari, Magic Nights, Czech Rhapsody, Jiri Belohlavek, Prague Symphony Orch., Supraphon
-Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2, Rhapsodie-Concerto for Violin & Orchestra, Neumann, Czech Phil., Supraphon
-Cello Concertos Nos. 1 & 2, Czech Philharmonic, Neumann, Supraphon
-Cello Concertos Nos. 1 & 2, Concertino, Belohlavek, Czech Philharmonic, Chandos
-Field Mass, Memorial to Lidice, Symphony No. 4, Belohlavek, Czech Philharmonic, Chandos
-Symphony No. 6, Janacek: Sinfonietta, Suk: Fantastick Scherzo, Belohvalek, Czech Philharmonic, Chandos
-Symphony No. 1, Double Concerto, Belohlavek, Czech Philharmonic, Chandos
-Three Fragments from the opera "Juliette," Mackerras, Czech Philharmonic, Supraphon
-Overture, Rhapsody, Sinfonia concertante, Concerto Grosso, Parables, Belohlavek, Czech Phil., Supraphon
-Symphonies 5 & 6, Memorial to Lidice, Ancerl, Czech Phil., Supraphon
-Les Fresques de Piero della Francesca, The Parables, Janacek: Sinfonietta, Ancerl, Czech Phil., Supraphon
-Spalicek, The Spectre's Bride, The Romance of the Dandelions, Belohlavek, Prague Radio Symp., Supraphon
-La Revue de cuisine, Sinfonietta la Jolla, Toccata e due canzoni, Hogwood, St. Paul Chamber Orch., Decca
-Piano Quintets Nos. 1 & 2, Martinu Quartet, Naxos
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 19, 2010, 06:17:43 AM
Actually, they're different works. The one on the Belohlavek disc is an early piece (1918?) and the one on the Matousek/Hogwood disc is an orchestral version (not by Martinu) of a 1945 violin/piano piece.

Oh okay. Thanks for the correction.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 19, 2010, 07:10:23 AM
Here is my current Martinu collection, which includes orders I have coming:

[many awesome discs snipped]


Wow that's a lot of good stuff  ;D But I don't see the Nonet, or any of the string quartets, or the late "folk" cantatas,...so back to Amazon with you!  :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: not edward on July 19, 2010, 07:17:40 AM
I just wish this disc would be available at a non-obscene price some day:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ZvjWnmLLL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 19, 2010, 07:34:30 AM
Wow that's a lot of good stuff  ;D But I don't see the Nonet, or any of the string quartets, or the late "folk" cantatas,...so back to Amazon with you!  :)

Since I'm an orchestral fan, I have tried to keep my purchases to this genre, but I plan on getting more chamber works. I will probably buy his string quartets when they become available in a box set from Naxos. The same goes for the piano music. I view these kinds of works as only for Martinu completist, but like I said maybe someday. If I do listen to chamber music, I try and go for the piano quintets or quartets from a composer or the larger chamber ensembles. I'll have to check out the Nonet you mentioned.
 
Thanks for your input and suggestions. :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: DavidRoss on July 19, 2010, 07:50:00 AM
I see that there's an unusual amount of proselytizing for Martinů here of late.  I've found his music pleasant, but not particularly moving, inspiring, or memorable.  Perhaps I haven't heard enough, yet.

Given that I'm especially inclined to like orchestral music, I wonder which of his symphonies the Martinů fans would most recommend as a gateway to greater appreciation?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 19, 2010, 08:07:31 AM
I see that there's an unusual amount of proselytizing for Martinů here of late.  I've found his music pleasant, but not particularly moving, inspiring, or memorable.  Perhaps I haven't heard enough, yet.

Given that I'm especially inclined to like orchestral music, I wonder which of his symphonies the Martinů fans would most recommend as a gateway to greater appreciation?

Try Symphonies Nos. 5 & 6 first. Give Martinu some time to sink in. It took me a year to fully appreciate him. His idiom is very unique in that it synthesizes very disparate musical forms and blends them seamlessly together.
 
P.S. I don't think anyone on in this thread is trying to convert anyone else into liking Martinu's music. There are many people who just dislike his music, which is fine. This thread is simply for people of all opinions. There are still plenty of people here who are "on the fence" so to speak about whether they like him or not, but as I said, for many he's a composer that has to be given a chance to be absorbed.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on July 19, 2010, 08:20:58 AM
I see that there's an unusual amount of proselytizing for Martinů here of late.  I've found his music pleasant, but not particularly moving, inspiring, or memorable.  Perhaps I haven't heard enough, yet.

I might have said much the same of the Janáček operas the first few times I assayed them, Dave.  I needed a subtle attunement to the idiom.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 19, 2010, 09:15:26 AM
Given that I'm especially inclined to like orchestral music, I wonder which of his symphonies the Martinů fans would most recommend as a gateway to greater appreciation?

The 1st Symphony (Belohlavek recording) made me a convert right away. However, nos. 4 and 6 seem to be the critical favorites. I love 'em all, but it strikes me that 3, 4 and 6 have slightly greater musical substance than the other ones.

To describe each symphony in a few words:

1: expansive, bright, good-natured

2: idyllic, pastoral, tuneful

3: intense, dramatic, moody

4: complex, outgoing, triumphant

5: energetic, rigorous, extroverted

6: surrealistic, dreamlike, kaleidoscopic
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Todd on July 19, 2010, 09:35:58 AM
Problem is, there really isn't yet a consensus as to what pieces constitute the best Martinu, although one seems to be developing around the symphonies and a few of the other orchestral works



I wonder if the emerging consesus merely reflects the preference of many for orchestral music over smaller forms.  In the case of Martinu, I would say that has to be the case since some of his best work is to be found among his string quartets.  There are at least three complete cycles on disc, and of those three the Panocha are the best, though the Martinu Quartet is also quite fine.

Sticking with orchestral works, though I'm sure it has been mentioned before, the Memorial to Lidice is a fine work.  Ancerl and Eschenbach both recorded quite different takes on the work.

A twofer that includes some solo piano works and three of the concertos that may be of some interest is the below with Rudolf Firkusny at the keyboard.  Firkusny was the dedicatee of several of Martinu's works, and worked with the composer.  I rather enjoy this set, though I wish I could find some older recordings with a younger Firkusny playing the works.  (His earlier playing was, in at least some cases, better than his later playing.)

(http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2003/Jun03/Martinu_Piano_concertos_886822.jpg)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Todd on July 19, 2010, 09:53:29 AM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41S3YV7GKHL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)


Forgot about this set, which is half Janacek, half Martinu.  The Martinu includes the Cello Sonatas played by Firkusny and Janos Starker, and it's superb.  The Janacek disc includes Firkusny's last studio recordings of Janacek, plus the Violin Sonata played by Laurent Korcia and Georges Pludermacher (I confess that I find Pludermacher's playing more intriguing here).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 19, 2010, 09:59:05 AM


I wonder if the emerging consesus merely reflects the preference of many for orchestral music over smaller forms.  In the case of Martinu, I would say that has to be the case since some of his best work is to be found among his string quartets.  There are at least three complete cycles on disc, and of those three the Panocha are the best, though the Martinu Quartet is also quite fine.

Sticking with orchestral works, though I'm sure it has been mentioned before, the Memorial to Lidice is a fine work.  Ancerl and Eschenbach both recorded quite different takes on the work.

A twofer that includes some solo piano works and three of the concertos that may be of some interest is the below with Rudolf Firkusny at the keyboard.  Firkusny was the dedicatee of several of Martinu's works, and worked with the composer.  I rather enjoy this set, though I wish I could find some older recordings with a younger Firkusny playing the works.  (His earlier playing was, in at least some cases, better than his later playing.)

(http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2003/Jun03/Martinu_Piano_concertos_886822.jpg)

I've seen this 2-CD set, but haven't heard much about it. I wonder how it compares the amazing Leichner/Belohlavek set on Supraphon? Any thoughts?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Todd on July 19, 2010, 10:00:03 AM
I've seen this 2-CD set, but haven't heard much about it. I wonder how it compares the amazing Leichner/Belohlavek set on Supraphon?


I prefer it to the Leichner, though I don't find the Leichner set amazing.  YMMV.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 19, 2010, 10:02:48 AM

I prefer it to the Leichner, though I don't find the Leichner set amazing.  YMMV.

I do. :D I think it's fantastic and impeccably played. Definitely a set I've come to enjoy.
 
By the way, saying you prefer it to another set, doesn't really tell me much. Why do you prefer to the Leichner? That's what I wanted to know.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Todd on July 19, 2010, 10:50:48 AM
Why do you prefer to the Leichner?


Firkusny's playing.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 19, 2010, 11:00:13 AM
I am, of course, talking about the version written for voice, chorus, and orchestra.

Yes, so was I
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 19, 2010, 11:02:53 AM
Yes, so was I

Ah...oh well sorry you don't like it. The Belohlavek version I have is so intense!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 19, 2010, 11:11:52 AM
Yes, so was I

Not that I don't like it, I just don't feel it is fully-formed Martinu.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 19, 2010, 11:16:55 AM
Since I'm an orchestral fan, I have tried to keep my purchases to this genre, but I plan on getting more chamber works. I will probably buy his string quartets when they become available in a box set from Naxos. The same goes for the piano music. I view these kinds of works as only for Martinu completist, but like I said maybe someday.

That strikes me as a really odd view, especially for someone so keen on Martinu - I'd have thought you'd be mad keen to snap up every note he wrote! Placing a division between works for larger forces and the rest seems a bit arbitrary. I'm sure Martinu wouldn't have seen it that way; as with all composers he placed as much stock by the major works of his chamber output as those of his orchestral.

I'll tell you some orchestral Martinu which never gets mentioned, but which Safranek, in his biography of the composer, places great importance on - some of the music on this weird and sometimes wonderful disc:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41H26Z36WBL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

La Bagarre, Half-Time, Thunderbolt P-47 - this is Martinu really finding his individual voice as an orchestral composer, and they are powerful pieces, to say the least. Le Jazz, with choral vocalising, is just....odd. But great fun! The disc also includes Who is the Most Powerful in the World and the Sextet for piano and winds.....I think I will give it a spin tonight!
 
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 19, 2010, 11:18:00 AM
Not that I don't like it, I just don't feel it is fully-formed Martinu.

Yeah, I can see your point, but, for me, there's something to admire about all of his phases of development. I mean let's take Roussel for example. I loved his Symphony No. 1 but it's hardly ever discussed. This is hardly fully formed Roussel, but that still doesn't make the music any less enjoyale or even inspired.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 19, 2010, 11:21:15 AM
Oh absolutely, and I'd be the first to agree that a composer's early and stylistically unformed works can be extremely rewarding. My main beef with this piece is less that it doens't sound like later Martinu than that it is episodic in a way that the older composer would probably have been able to avoid. But I should give it another spin...
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 19, 2010, 11:35:23 AM
That strikes me as a really odd view, especially for someone so keen on Martinu - I'd have thought you'd be mad keen to snap up every note he wrote! Placing a division between works for larger forces and the rest seems a bit arbitrary. I'm sure Martinu wouldn't have seen it that way; as with all composers he placed as much stock by the major works of his chamber output as those of his orchestral.

Well I'm an odd person. :D
 
But seriously, I'm going to explore more of Martinu's chamber works. I just bought a recording of his Piano Quintets Nos. 1 & 2, so I'm anxious to get this one. It's just that right now, I'm enjoying his orchestral music also some of his choral music as well. I'm trying to submerge myself with what I already own.
 
Anyway, that looks like an interesting disc of Martinu. I might have to pick that one up at some point.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on July 19, 2010, 06:26:12 PM
I see that there's an unusual amount of proselytizing for Martinů here of late.  I've found his music pleasant, but not particularly moving, inspiring, or memorable.  Perhaps I haven't heard enough, yet.

Given that I'm especially inclined to like orchestral music, I wonder which of his symphonies the Martinů fans would most recommend as a gateway to greater appreciation?

I would say that even though orchestral music is more your thing, David, Martinu's string quartets are every bit as representative of his skills/talent as his symphonies and therefore (humbly) deserve consideration if you're interested in exploring more Martinu.

I really enjoy the intimacy of the quartets, as if I were permitted access to a sort of secretive, select world inhabited by four close friends sharing juicy stories with one another yet, ultimately, not afraid to splash everything in the tabloids for the entire world to see. ;D

They're daring works, full of invention and subtlety, with loads of spark and spunk. Anyway, I get a kick out of them. (The Panocha's my favorite):


(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ReNvZ0ocL._SS400_.jpg)


Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 19, 2010, 06:54:15 PM


(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ReNvZ0ocL._SS400_.jpg)

I wonder how this set compares to the Naxos recordings. Have you heard the Naxos ones too? Thanks.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on July 19, 2010, 07:43:51 PM

I wonder how this set compares to the Naxos recordings. Have you heard the Naxos ones too? Thanks.

I have five of the seven quartets from the Martinu Quartet on Naxos (missing the first and second). The philosophies in interpretation are as different as you can get. The Panochas aim for a more 'conversational' approach (hence my description above), playing up the color and nuance in the music while keeping everything wonderfully buoyant. They're keen on picking apart the music and ferreting out all the wonderful details and subtleties.

The Martinus buy comparison are more homogenized, with a warm, comfy blend that thankfully finds just enough intimacy to satisfy my needs and keeps my ears perked. It's a bit more romanticized I'd say with less emphasis on the quirkiness (and detail) yet still extremely entertaining to listen to. Hard to find fault with them yet honestly they're not my preferred. Color is key for me in Martinu and the Panochas tap into it in spades.   

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 19, 2010, 07:47:09 PM
I have five of the seven quartets from the Martinu Quartet on Naxos (missing the first and second). The philosophies in interpretation are as different as you can get. The Panochas aim for a more 'conversational' approach (hence my description above), playing up the color and nuance in the music while keeping everything wonderfully buoyant. They're keen on picking apart the music and ferreting out all the wonderful details and subtleties.

The Martinus buy comparison are more homogenized, with a warm, comfy blend that thankfully finds just enough intimacy to satisfy my needs and keeps my ears perked. It's a bit more romanticized I'd say with less emphasis on the quirkiness (and detail) yet still extremely entertaining to listen to. Hard to find fault with them yet honestly they're not my preferred. Color is key for me in Martinu and the Panochas tap into it in spades.

Thanks for the wonderful description. I think I shall be getting the Panochas set on Supraphon next. :D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on July 20, 2010, 02:54:59 AM
Thanks! I've got the same two vols. of the Naxos set coming in . . . and my wallet does not thank you, for it seems that I shall want the Panochas, as well : )
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 20, 2010, 09:17:31 AM
Just bought:
 
(http://www.supraphon.com/!img_katalog/SU3917_2_xl.gif)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: SonicMan46 on July 20, 2010, 01:56:20 PM
.............Hard to find fault with them yet honestly they're not my preferred. Color is key for me in Martinu and the Panochas tap into it in spades.

DD - thanks for your marvelous description of the Panocha SQ in these works - I have the same group in the Dvorak SQs, so would expect a unique approach to these works - although I do own about a dozen Martinu discs, don't have any of the SQs - thus, will add to my 'to buy' list!   ;D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on July 20, 2010, 05:49:00 PM
Thanks, guys. I hope the Panochas prove worthwhile for you all (and I see Sarge, too, from the Purchases Today thread). :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 20, 2010, 05:59:00 PM
Thanks, guys. I hope the Panochas prove worthwhile for you all (and I see Sarge, too, from the Purchases Today thread). :)

I listened to the playback of this Panochas Quartet set and it sounded much better to my ears than the Martinu Quartet. It sounded like the Panochas Quartet have a better understanding of Martinu's style. Am I wrong in what I heard?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on July 20, 2010, 10:30:37 PM
I listened to the playback of this Panochas Quartet set and it sounded much better to my ears than the Martinu Quartet. It sounded like the Panochas Quartet have a better understanding of Martinu's style. Am I wrong in what I heard?

That's an interesting question to ponder and I'm not sure if I have an exact answer but in my experience taking Martinu at face value and not trying to "streamline" his music for broader public appeal is the fastest way to make the most of the music.

And this to me sounds exactly like what the Panochas are doing. I suppose it's possible to label this sort of approach as having a "better understanding" of the music, in-as-much as it's a fearless undertaking of the music without the slightest hint of compromise, but I have to admit I have no formal musical training so can only base my assumptions on what I've heard on disc.

However, it could simply be that the Panocha's are approaching the music from a more intimate vantage point, perhaps living with the music for a longer period of time (partly due perhaps to the fact they've been together for a longer period compared to the Martinu Qt) which I suppose is in fact just another way of saying "better understanding of the music". But when I listen to the Martinu Qt I don't think I'm willing to say anything along the lines of they have a LESSER understanding of the music. It could just be that they're tackling the music from a totally different vantage point so as not to appear mere clones of the Panochas, or any other band playing this music. IOW, they have no problems finding their own individual voice in the music but as I've said it's not exactly how I most like to HEAR Martinu.

And, hey, they're a Czech band so it's not like I can say a group of "outsiders" have somehow violated the music or anything. So I'm willing and able to concede that the Martinu Qt have enough of the music in their bones to - for the most part - understand the music though perhaps there's still that side of them that's not willing to fully exploit Martinu's vast canvas for the sake of making the music more appealing to a more mainstream public (alluding to my opening comment). Which might explain why I hear their approach as "a bit romanticized", as I mentioned a couple posts ago.

Anyway, nothing I've said here is based on anything empirical - aside from what my ears tell me - but since you asked... ;D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 20, 2010, 11:34:34 PM
I listened to the playback of this Panochas Quartet set and it sounded much better to my ears than the Martinu Quartet. It sounded like the Panochas Quartet have a better understanding of Martinu's style. Am I wrong in what I heard?

DD has left a typically articulate and comprehensive answer, but I'll add a few points. I think for us as listeners, deciding who has a "better understanding of Martinu's style" between two Czech ensembles that have been playing him for years is kind of a pointless quest. It makes more sense to just go with what your ears tell you.

Most of Martinu's output is still stuck in a "Czech ghetto," i.e. with a number of exceptions it hardly gets played or recorded outside former Czechoslovakia. I am hoping this will change and indeed there are signs of it, with conductors like Hogwood and Gilbert taking up the stick on Bohuslav's behalf. (Could Hogwood do for Martinu what Mackerras did for Janacek? The thought is appealing.) But at the moment, we're mostly comparing recordings by Czech musicians, and in view of this it's hard to say who has better "understanding" or "authenticity" in this music. It's like trying to decide whether Staropramen or Krusovice makes more authentically Bohemian dark beer: a matter of individual taste.

BTW, "internationalizing" Martinu would just be a form of restoration: almost all of his career was spent outside Cz., and in the 1940s-50s he was one of the most-played living composers in the USA, with conductors like Koussevitzky, Munch, and Ormandy backing him.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 21, 2010, 12:47:19 AM
(just rambling....)

He is indeed an odd figure in that respect - so strongly Czech, and yet such a cosmpolitan, cultivated figure. Much of his output, especially his later output, seems to me so full of the sun, of the south - Greece, France, the Mediterranean (of course he lived there, in Nice, for a long time); at points in the first 5 symphonies, if you listen with your ears tuned this way, we can hear an open, American sound akin to some Copland etc (and of course that's where they were composed); in the earlier works of the 20s and 30s, his Paris years, we hear all the sophistication, wit and ability to parody and to flit between styles of a Poulenc. And yet, always, there is this Czech core there, that comes to the fore in works like the Nonet and the Bures cantatas, Spalicek etc. etc. but is always present. Though I agree that at present the best Martinu recordings have almost all been made by Czech artists (just as it's still true that, Mackerras apart, the best Janacek recordings come from Czech artists too), he would nevertheless appear to be a prime candidate for international export in some ways, open to all as he is...but perhaps too many people like their musical imports to be more easily pinned down, geographically. Hmm...
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 21, 2010, 07:16:07 AM
That's an interesting question to ponder and I'm not sure if I have an exact answer but in my experience taking Martinu at face value and not trying to "streamline" his music for broader public appeal is the fastest way to make the most of the music.

And this to me sounds exactly like what the Panochas are doing. I suppose it's possible to label this sort of approach as having a "better understanding" of the music, in-as-much as it's a fearless undertaking of the music without the slightest hint of compromise, but I have to admit I have no formal musical training so can only base my assumptions on what I've heard on disc.

However, it could simply be that the Panocha's are approaching the music from a more intimate vantage point, perhaps living with the music for a longer period of time (partly due perhaps to the fact they've been together for a longer period compared to the Martinu Qt) which I suppose is in fact just another way of saying "better understanding of the music". But when I listen to the Martinu Qt I don't think I'm willing to say anything along the lines of they have a LESSER understanding of the music. It could just be that they're tackling the music from a totally different vantage point so as not to appear mere clones of the Panochas, or any other band playing this music. IOW, they have no problems finding their own individual voice in the music but as I've said it's not exactly how I most like to HEAR Martinu.

And, hey, they're a Czech band so it's not like I can say a group of "outsiders" have somehow violated the music or anything. So I'm willing and able to concede that the Martinu Qt have enough of the music in their bones to - for the most part - understand the music though perhaps there's still that side of them that's not willing to fully exploit Martinu's vast canvas for the sake of making the music more appealing to a more mainstream public (alluding to my opening comment). Which might explain why I hear their approach as "a bit romanticized", as I mentioned a couple posts ago.

Anyway, nothing I've said here is based on anything empirical - aside from what my ears tell me - but since you asked... ;D

I appreciate your time in explaining to me your opinions of the two different quartets. Thanks a lot! :D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 21, 2010, 07:24:15 AM
DD has left a typically articulate and comprehensive answer, but I'll add a few points. I think for us as listeners, deciding who has a "better understanding of Martinu's style" between two Czech ensembles that have been playing him for years is kind of a pointless quest.

Well two different Czech ensembles can play very differently as DD so intelligently laid out for us. Being Czech has nothing to do with how well an ensemble plays the music. All I asked for was a personal opinion. Whether you regard this as pointless or not is not up to you to decide, I asked the question and you chose not to answer the question intelligently or cordially.
 
Anyway, DD's kind candor is much appreciated, especially to someone who is WANTING to learn more about Martinu.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 21, 2010, 09:20:14 AM
FWIW I didn't read Velimir's post as at all lacking in intelligence of cordiality. Surprised to see that it offended you - I found it sensible and thought-provoking
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 21, 2010, 09:25:07 AM
FWIW I didn't read Velimir's post as at all lacking in intelligence of cordiality. Surprised to see that it offended you - I found it sensible and thought-provoking

I wasn't offended but merely taken aback by the first paragraph. Other than that, I thought it was a solid post.
 
When somebody asks a question of someone else out of a willingness to learn, I expect those who know more than I do about the given subject to come forth with their knowledge. Velimir did not offer me anything other than telling me my question was "pointless." Perhaps to him it was, but to other's like DD, for example, one can notice differences between two Czech ensembles and all I was asking for was DD to tell me his opinion of both groups. My question was never intended to be answered by Velimir.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 21, 2010, 09:35:48 AM
Anyway, getting back to Martinu...
 
I think I have more than enough Martinu recordings to keep me busy for awhile. :D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 21, 2010, 09:43:50 AM

I wasn't offended but merely taken aback by the first paragraph. Other than that, I thought it was a solid post.
 
When somebody asks a question of someone else out of a willingness to learn, I expect those who know more than I do about the given subject to come forth with their knowledge. Velimir did not offer me anything other than telling me my question was "pointless." Perhaps to him it was, but to other's like DD, for example, one can notice differences between two Czech ensembles and all I was asking for was DD to tell me his opinion of both groups. My question was never intended to be answered by Velimir.

Hmm, yes, but the way I read it, that 'pointless' wasn't insulting you as the questioner, just a statement of the fact that he thought that answering the question would in the long run be fruitless, for other reasons. Just saying - don't like friction!  :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 21, 2010, 09:44:53 AM
Sorry - crossed posts! Me too - if only because I'm having trouble culling them down to a managable number to take on holiday!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on July 21, 2010, 09:47:02 AM
I am enjoying all of this disc of the chamber music two-fer, Luke (Nonet, Trio in F, fl/vc/pf, Sonatina for 2 vns & pf, La revue de cuisine).

Possibly my favorite on an initial hearing is the Sonatina! But it's all good, and I'll come back to this many a time.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 21, 2010, 09:49:05 AM
Hmm, yes, but the way I read it, that 'pointless' wasn't insulting you as the questioner, just a statement of the fact that he thought that answering the question would in the long run be fruitless, for other reasons. Just saying - don't like friction!  :)

I don't like friction either. I'm not too worried about any of this. I was just making a point of observation, which was I didn't ask for his opinion, I asked for DD since it was he who recommended the Panochas Quartet set to me over the Martinu Quartet recordings on Naxos.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 21, 2010, 09:51:32 AM
I am enjoying all of this disc of the chamber music two-fer, Luke (Nonet, Trio in F, fl/vc/pf, Sonatina for 2 vns & pf, La revue de cuisine).

Possibly my favorite on an initial hearing is the Sonatina! But it's all good, and I'll come back to this many a time.


I've heard nothing but good things about this set. I'll probably end up picking it up at some point. But right now, I've got to get back to listening....
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 21, 2010, 08:25:31 PM
Hmm, yes, but the way I read it, that 'pointless' wasn't insulting you as the questioner, just a statement of the fact that he thought that answering the question would in the long run be fruitless, for other reasons.

Yes, thanks for understanding me  :)

As for Mirror, I'm glad DD was helpful to him. However, I don't think I'll bother engaging him in the future, if he's going to see insults where none were intended.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on July 21, 2010, 10:12:46 PM

I appreciate your time in explaining to me your opinions of the two different quartets. Thanks a lot! :D

Sure. Happy to do it. :)

FWIW, if owning the Panocha and Martinu isn't enough Czech representation in this repertoire I do have one more Czech recording of three of the quartets: the Kocian Qt on Praga.

Comparisons, as usual, are revealing. All I can say after comparing all three Czech bands is there's obviously more than one way to approach this music and still make it work. The thumbnail is: the Kocian go for a more 'airy' approach, light and supple, with more color than the Martinu yet not as energetic as either of the other two. The net effect is the music takes on a sort of 'otherworldly' characteristic, as if the Kocians see the music as drifting in from some sort of early-morning mist, with just enough illumination to make contours visible and eek out some contrast.

It's certainly Martinu, no doubt about it. But a more ethereal Martinu. It's a style I've yet to form a real opinion about but can certainly appreciate its qualities. Will have to (eagerly) listen more...


(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/617NC236ZSL._SS400_.jpg)



(Then there's the one non-Czech recording I have in this repertoire. Report at ten... ;D)


Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on July 21, 2010, 10:22:42 PM
I'll tell you some orchestral Martinu which never gets mentioned, but which Safranek, in his biography of the composer, places great importance on - some of the music on this weird and sometimes wonderful disc:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41H26Z36WBL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)


I actually had this disc in my hands a few years ago but decided against buying it. Don't recall why. Your advocacy has me kicking myself now, so, the remedy: off to the Amazons... ;D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 22, 2010, 01:09:07 AM
I was listening to it yesterday - interesting stuff. Le Jazz, as the CD notes say (though my kids lost them in the car  >:( ), will be a surprise to anyone who knows the Martinu of the symphonies. It's all banjo, woodblock, upwards shifting modulations, sliding trombones...all the cliches of 'sweet jazz'. Plus the oddest jazz singing you can imagine - something like a bit of Fuxian species counterpoint applied to the basic line. I wonder if Martinu meant it as satire, or if it's a miscalculation. Or if I'm hearing it with wonky ears, of course. Half-time, La Bagarre and Thunderbolt P-47 are somewhat more familiar in style, I think one would probably guess they were Martinu fairly quickly, but they don't have the inimitable fingerpirnts of the later pieces. And then the other works, all jazzy....great fun.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: not edward on July 22, 2010, 04:57:22 AM
Thunderbolt P-47 is actually from 1945. :P

I've been relistening to volume 2 of the Matousek/Hogwood series and really wishing that the works on it were better known. The violin/piano concerto I've thought of as one of Martinu's greatest achievements from the moment I first encountered it, but the Concerto da camera keeps growing on me--one of the composer's darkest works, almost a Double Concerto with the sustaining pedal.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 22, 2010, 05:14:10 AM
I've been relistening to volume 2 of the Matousek/Hogwood series and really wishing that the works on it were better known.

I think it's time for me to re-engage with that disc. The Violin/Piano Cto. acquired a semi-legendary rep during its years of unavailability (I saw messages in various places claiming it was one of his very best works). On first hearing it, I liked it for sure, but wasn't quite blown away as I had expected. For one thing, since it was from his "kaleidoscopic" last decade, I expected something like the 6th Symphony or Frescoes in concerto form, and it's more retrograde than that. The Concerto da camera I haven't properly listened to at all.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: not edward on July 22, 2010, 05:24:22 AM
I think it's time for me to re-engage with that disc. The Violin/Piano Cto. acquired a semi-legendary rep during its years of unavailability (I saw messages in various places claiming it was one of his very best works). On first hearing it, I liked it for sure, but wasn't quite blown away as I had expected. For one thing, since it was from his "kaleidoscopic" last decade, I expected something like the 6th Symphony or Frescoes in concerto form, and it's more retrograde than that. The Concerto da camera I haven't properly listened to at all.
Yeah, the violin/piano concerto has almost nothing to do with the rest of his '50s output; at times it almost sounds to me as if it was an experiment in simplifying his 40s style and making it somewhat less chromatic. To me, it's one of those fascinating "paths not taken."
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on July 22, 2010, 07:53:58 AM
Zowie. Dig ye this (http://www.martinu.cz/katalog/martinu/catlist.php).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Scarpia on July 22, 2010, 09:58:02 AM
Honestly, I re-registered because I have been itching to comment on this recording:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61Abkvtn%2BrL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

I haven't listened to it all yet, but the Concertino for string trio and string orchestra (H232) is revelatory.  I don't know of another recording of this music, but it grabbed me from the moment I put it on.  Outer movements are wonderfully vigorous, with odd melodic fragments and harmonies that are the hallmark of Martinu (to me) and lots of fascinating contrapuntal writing for the string orchestra.  The slow movement is a tremendously focused and intense.  Just a great piece, performed perfectly.  I'm looking forward to the rest of the disc.  (I also listened to the Memorial for Lidice, which was also good but which did not displace my favorite recording, Metzmacher on EMI.)

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on July 22, 2010, 10:03:21 AM
Honestly, I re-registered because I have been itching to comment on this recording . . . .

I knew that our communal enthusiasm for Martinů was a Force for Good! ; )
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: pjme on July 22, 2010, 10:15:59 AM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51X4JPHGM3L._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

and

(http://www.hbdirect.com/coverm/59/1085759.jpg)

A French recording...but haven,'t heard it.

P.

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Sergeant Rock on July 22, 2010, 01:50:36 PM
Zowie. Dig ye this (http://www.martinu.cz/katalog/martinu/catlist.php).
Great find, and there's an English version too.

Sarge
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 22, 2010, 04:45:38 PM
However, I don't think I'll bother engaging him in the future, if he's going to see insults where none were intended.

Velimir, there's no need to be that way. It was a simple misunderstanding (on my part) and I just took what you wrote the wrong way. Sorry, but I appreciate your input and enjoy conversing with you, but if you're going to let some silly misunderstanding keep you from engaging in conversation with somebody who loves music as much as you do, then that is your prerogative.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 22, 2010, 09:26:38 PM
Velimir, there's no need to be that way. It was a simple misunderstanding (on my part) and I just took what you wrote the wrong way.

No worries, MI. Misunderstandings do happen sometimes  :)

pjme,

I have that Chandos recording and I think it's terrific...I wonder though how it compares to the Prague Chamber Orch version of La Jolla and Toccata etc. Anyone heard both?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on July 22, 2010, 09:59:01 PM
I was listening to it yesterday - interesting stuff. Le Jazz, as the CD notes say (though my kids lost them in the car  >:( ), will be a surprise to anyone who knows the Martinu of the symphonies. It's all banjo, woodblock, upwards shifting modulations, sliding trombones...all the cliches of 'sweet jazz'. Plus the oddest jazz singing you can imagine - something like a bit of Fuxian species counterpoint applied to the basic line. I wonder if Martinu meant it as satire, or if it's a miscalculation. Or if I'm hearing it with wonky ears, of course. Half-time, La Bagarre and Thunderbolt P-47 are somewhat more familiar in style, I think one would probably guess they were Martinu fairly quickly, but they don't have the inimitable fingerpirnts of the later pieces. And then the other works, all jazzy....great fun.

That all sounds mighty fun, Luke. :) And colorful. Found a new copy for cheap off Amazon. Looking forward to hearing this disc. 
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 22, 2010, 10:54:59 PM
Though I cannot exactly call myself an opera fan (I've been to the opera maybe 5 times in my life), I'm thinking it's time to get to grips with Julietta, given how central it is to Martinu's output and how much influence it had on his subsequent work.

With that in mind, can anyone say a few words about the Mackerras-led Three Fragments disc on Supraphon? It's gotten good reviews (naturally), but I'm really interested in knowing if it gives you a good idea of the opera as a whole. The term "fragments" seems kind of unpromising in this respect.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 23, 2010, 02:07:17 AM
Though I cannot exactly call myself an opera fan (I've been to the opera maybe 5 times in my life), I'm thinking it's time to get to grips with Julietta, given how central it is to Martinu's output and how much influence it had on his subsequent work.

With that in mind, can anyone say a few words about the Mackerras-led Three Fragments disc on Supraphon? It's gotten good reviews (naturally), but I'm really interested in knowing if it gives you a good idea of the opera as a whole. The term "fragments" seems kind of unpromising in this respect.

A few words? It's fabulous. There are two forms of fragments on the disc. The first is a short suite extracted from the work, three orchestral movements each of only about 4 minutes - but it seems a lot bigger and more imposing than that - this isn't a suite of character pieces but a sampling of some of the more intense music of the opera; like the opera as a whole, it's like eavesdroppping on a dream. But the second selection of fragments is much bigger, longer chunks of the opera itself, beautifully performed and sung, and in that it is pretty self-recommending. I'm sure you will enjoy it a great deal.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 23, 2010, 03:03:58 AM
A few words? It's fabulous. There are [useful review snipped]

Thanks - I'll have to get hold of this one.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 23, 2010, 05:46:36 AM
With that in mind, can anyone say a few words about the Mackerras-led Three Fragments disc on Supraphon? It's gotten good reviews (naturally), but I'm really interested in knowing if it gives you a good idea of the opera as a whole. The term "fragments" seems kind of unpromising in this respect.

When I recieve Three Fragments with Mackerras and listen to it, I'll tell you my impressions of it, Velimir.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on July 23, 2010, 06:57:27 AM
Entirely pleased with all this chamber music (and the additional orchestral music) whose acquaintance I have been making this week!  Opening of the Allegro moderato movement which closes the first piano quintet has a fascinating resonance with one of the Prokofiev string quartets . . . nothing like plagiarism, I don't mean, just a resemblance as of musical cousins.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 23, 2010, 12:06:33 PM
Excellent detailed overview of Martinu's Paris years: could read this all night, very happily!

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2006/Feb06/Martinu_introduction.htm
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 23, 2010, 10:57:15 PM
the Concerto da camera keeps growing on me--one of the composer's darkest works, almost a Double Concerto with the sustaining pedal.

I finally gave this a concentrated listen. I see what you mean - it's really very serious and kind of spiky-sounding, almost like Prokofiev or Bartok at times. An intriguing piece.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 25, 2010, 05:38:13 PM
I finally gave this a concentrated listen. I see what you mean - it's really very serious and kind of spiky-sounding, almost like Prokofiev or Bartok at times. An intriguing piece.

I've heard nothing but great things about that composition. Can't wait to hear it. It's apart of Hogwood's The Complete Music For Vioin And Orchestra series. It's on the second volume.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 25, 2010, 09:52:34 PM
The accompanying Piano/Violin Concerto is pretty awesome too...

I read a remark by Hogwood that Martinu was the "most 15-second recognizable composer of the 20th century" or words to that effect (meaning the composer whose style is easiest to recognize if you've got only 15 seconds to do so). Hard to disagree, I think.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: The new erato on July 25, 2010, 11:14:17 PM

I've heard nothing but great things about that composition. Can't wait to hear it. It's apart of Hogwood's The Complete Music For Vioin And Orchestra series. It's on the second volume.
Which IMO overall is the most rewarding of a superb series.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 26, 2010, 01:57:16 AM
The accompanying Piano/Violin Concerto is pretty awesome too...

I read a remark by Hogwood that Martinu was the "most 15-second recognizable composer of the 20th century" or words to that effect (meaning the composer whose style is easiest to recognize if you've got only 15 seconds to do so). Hard to disagree, I think.

Well, alongside Janacek, Ravel, Arvo Part, Gavin Bryars, John Ireland, Tippett, a few others....interestingly to me, these are all, along with Martinu, among the composers I respond to most, and it's true that I find music which is most deeply individual and therefore personal to be the most compelling.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 26, 2010, 05:07:18 PM
Well, alongside Janacek, Ravel, Arvo Part, Gavin Bryars, John Ireland, Tippett, a few others....interestingly to me, these are all, along with Martinu, among the composers I respond to most, and it's true that I find music which is most deeply individual and therefore personal to be the most compelling.

I love Janacek, Ravel, Part, and Ireland, so kudos to you there. :D For me, especially lately, I have fallen for composers like Martinu and Bloch who wrote more in a rhapsodic style. Even their most spiky, dissonant music has this lyrical feel to it. I also enjoy these composer's way with harmony, which, for me, is what makes music much more attractive.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Popov on July 27, 2010, 06:35:02 PM
The accompanying Piano/Violin Concerto is pretty awesome too...

I read a remark by Hogwood that Martinu was the "most 15-second recognizable composer of the 20th century" or words to that effect (meaning the composer whose style is easiest to recognize if you've got only 15 seconds to do so). Hard to disagree, I think.
Very hard indeed, there's something in the drive and color of his music that makes it somehow unique while, I don't know how to translate it -sorry, dejando poso. I love all the works of his I know, especially his Symphonies 3 to 5.

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 28, 2010, 11:36:18 PM
Much obsessive listening to the Violin/Piano Concerto in recent days. I'd had the disc for a couple of years but had only listened to it once or twice - enough to convince me it was a nice piece, but not enough to get its hooks into me.

It really is one of M's best concertos, even if it seems out of whack chronologically. Composed the same time as the 6th Symphony, but sounds like something he would have written 10 years earlier. (This caused me some initial confusion on first hearing.)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Scarpia on July 31, 2010, 08:09:52 PM
Much obsessive listening to the Violin/Piano Concerto in recent days. I'd had the disc for a couple of years but had only listened to it once or twice - enough to convince me it was a nice piece, but not enough to get its hooks into me.

It really is one of M's best concertos, even if it seems out of whack chronologically. Composed the same time as the 6th Symphony, but sounds like something he would have written 10 years earlier. (This caused me some initial confusion on first hearing.)

Listened to another selection from this release:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61Abkvtn%2BrL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

The other concerto for piano trio and string orchestra H231.  A wonderful work, again with quirky counterpoint and a slow movement which is perhaps something like the slow movement from Brandenburg Concerto No 2, continuously evolving melody from the string trio, although Martinu includes a splendid climax where the full orchestra enters.  Great music, performance and surround sound recording.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 31, 2010, 09:35:58 PM
Just posted this on the Poulenc thread, but it belongs here much more:

Quote from: Luke, on the Poulenc thread
.....But the Poulenc I return to again and again and again is the chamber music, above all those last, late sonatas. It's very hard to top these, really - they have Poulenc's typical potency, all those 'hooks', melodic, harmonic and rhythmic that expect with him, but they are so plangently expressive, so filled with something disturbing. Where was I reading somewhere recently Ned Rorem's view of French music (profoundly superficial) as compared to German (superficially profound)?* Absurdly generalising, hugely biased, perhaps - but a grain of truth in it: all the orchestral behemoths, exaggerated climaxes, extreme tempi, comple counterpoint and tortured chromaticism in the world can't create profundity if there's nothing really there. Poulenc needs none of these things in order to write music which is profoundly moving, in the late sonatas.

Interestingly, Martinu, subject of so much interesting chat at the moment, and really French in his aesthetic too, was explicitly opposed to exaggeration, dynamic forcing, over-emphasis - there's a fabulous long quotation of his, one of my very favourite bits of writing-on-music, which he wrote as a prgoramme note to go with the First Symphony, which I wish more composers....and more listeners....would take on board. I think it applies to Poulenc too, which is why I'm posting it here, but maybe I'll post it on the Martinu thread too; after all, I'd better make copying it out worth it!

Quote from: Martinu
The concept of elevated thought is certainly incontestable, the question really becoming what we consider elevate thought to be. What I maintain as my deepest conviction is the essential nobility of thoughts and things which are quite simple and which, not explained in high-sounding words and abstruse phrases, still hold an ethical and human significance. It is possible that my thoughts dwell upon objects or events of an almost everyday simplicity familiar to everyone and exclusively to certain great spirits. They may be so simple as to pass almost unnoticed but may still contain a deep meaning and afford great pleasure to humanity which, without them, would find life pale and flat. It could also be that these things permit us to go through life more easily, and, if one gives them due place, touch the highest plane of thought. One must also recognize the truth that a work so great and weighty as the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven could have been conceived only at a certain moment in history with the convergence of certain conditions, and could not have been written just by anyone and just at any time. A different point of view could falsify creative activity at the start, and could force the composer in a tragic and pathetic attitude, which would result in nothing else than a tour de force. It is possible a priori for intended tragedy and pathos to be not tragic at all, and every composer must be wary of false magnitude. Each composer and each creator of our epoch feels himself, to a certain extent, obligated to espouse sentiments of grandeur and tragedy. But this is no natural human feeling.

I have long pondered over the question, and should like here to note its consequences upon the course of music. The tendency, the desire to be greater than one is, can lead directly to an over-emphasis which, to say the least, is not essential music. Over-emphasis can certainly strain the limits of music and sound, and by sound I mean dynamics. One inevitably comes to the point where the actual instruments can no longer support the weight of an expression which exaggerates dynamism; they cannot support expression and still keep faith with certain aesthetic laws which we rightly prize. Even the natural capacity of our ears and nerves is strained. There is still another grave consequence which dynamics conceal: the tendency to mask a lack of real music and to replace it with noise. The result adds nothing to the true beauty of the art, for the sheer excitation of the nerves cannot be a just aesthetic goal. I am aware that this way of expression has its admirers, but I am not thereby convinced that this is the true realm of music, for my aim is something different. I know, too, that that is the way of many in our epoch, but neither can this justify for me the use of noise in music. Sheer orchestral power does not necessarily imply either grandeur or elevation.

If we look at the question from the point of view of technique, the consequences are characteristic. This dynamic urge necessarily displaces the balance of the basic funtion in the orchestra. The strings, which have traditionally furnished the basic element, can no longer do so, their fortissimo sonority being covered when the composer leans heavily upon the brass and percussion. In this way the whole conception of a work becomes 'brass', while we lose the charm, the amiability even the passion of the stringed instruments and their great variety of expression. We are aroused but not exactly happy, and that we must leave a concert in a state of fatigue is in itself not a favourable sign.


Sorry, that's alenghty quotation, but it's one that I didn't want to cut! And in a Poulenc thread too - I'd better post it on the Marinu thread now, also


*remembered - a typically great Scott Morrison review of a disc of Francaix at Amazon. Which I bought on the strength of the review...
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 31, 2010, 11:43:22 PM
Concerto Quest

Concerto listening continues: in the last few days I've heard  the 1st Cello Concerto (very good, probably one of M's best), the 4th Piano Concerto "Incantations" (fantastic piece from his late years, dreamlike but also energetic), and the 3rd Piano Concerto (Martinu doing his best Beethoven imitation - critics don't seem to like this work much, but I find it quite affecting).

Which raises a question: What do you think are Martinu's best concertos? There are only 6 symphonies but there are approx. 25 concertos, so it's a much harder question to answer (esp. since I haven't heard 'em all). My list at the moment would be:

Double Concerto (Piano/Tympani)
Piano Concerto No. 4
Violin/Piano Concerto
Violin Concerto No. 2
Rhapsody-Cto. for Viola
Cello Concerto No. 1

I have good memories of the 2-Piano Cto., based on hearing it once in concert; but never since then, so I'm not sure where it belongs. Sometimes I think the Haydnesque Sinfonia Concertante belongs, sometimes I don't (it's a slight work, but very nice). And Inventions (the mini-PC mentioned above) is a nifty piece of work.

Jury's still out on Piano Concerto No. 2 and Cello Concerto No. 2. They have good parts, but on the whole I struggle with them. On the other hand, I'm thinking the Concerto da Camera coupled with the Pn/Vln Cto might make the top shelf, based on my first hearing.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: SonicMan46 on August 01, 2010, 05:36:29 AM
String Quartets w/ the Panocha Quartet - recent arrival and just beginning a second 'more serious' listening to these varied works which were written over nearly a 30-year period (1918 to 1947); the Panocha Q. do not disappoint but DD in recent pages has elegantly express his feelings on these performances; the recorded sound is remarkably good (made from 1979-82) -  :D


(http://giradman.smugmug.com/Other/Classical-Music/MartinuSQsPanocha/951818016_bUZHX-O.jpg)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: not edward on August 01, 2010, 06:10:12 AM
Which raises a question: What do you think are Martinu's best concertos? There are only 6 symphonies but there are approx. 25 concertos, so it's a much harder question to answer (esp. since I haven't heard 'em all). My list at the moment would be:

I've heard all the concerti except the first piano concerto, and my list would be your first four:

Double Concerto (Piano/Tympani)
Piano Concerto No. 4
Violin/Piano Concerto
Violin Concerto No. 2

with my own personal jury still out on Concerto da camera and the Double Piano Concerto (which I've not listened to in too long).

I've never really grown to love the cello concerti, for whatever reason, and I think the Rhapsody-Concerto falls a little short of the best late Martinu.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on August 01, 2010, 06:10:38 AM
Concerto Quest

Concerto listening continues: in the last few days I've heard  the 1st Cello Concerto (very good, probably one of M's best), the 4th Piano Concerto "Incantations" (fantastic piece from his late years, dreamlike but also energetic), and the 3rd Piano Concerto (Martinu doing his best Beethoven imitation - critics don't seem to like this work much, but I find it quite affecting).

Which raises a question: What do you think are Martinu's best concertos? There are only 6 symphonies but there are approx. 25 concertos, so it's a much harder question to answer (esp. since I haven't heard 'em all). My list at the moment would be:

Double Concerto (Piano/Tympani)
Piano Concerto No. 4
Violin/Piano Concerto
Violin Concerto No. 2
Rhapsody-Cto. for Viola
Cello Concerto No. 1

I have good memories of the 2-Piano Cto., based on hearing it once in concert; but never since then, so I'm not sure where it belongs. Sometimes I think the Haydnesque Sinfonia Concertante belongs, sometimes I don't (it's a slight work, but very nice). And Inventions (the mini-PC mentioned above) is a nifty piece of work.

Jury's still out on Piano Concerto No. 2 and Cello Concerto No. 2. They have good parts, but on the whole I struggle with them. On the other hand, I'm thinking the Concerto da Camera coupled with the Pn/Vln Cto might make the top shelf, based on my first hearing.

Beat me to the punch,...good, glad to see someone else is as obsessive as I! And yes, this IS the kind of topic that can get obsessive.

I just looked through the Library and noticed I had cut off my Martinu-ism during my last bout of research frenzy (The Unfinished City). Oh oh, looks like you might have triggered a relapse. Oh noooo!

M;s Harpsichord Concerto is what you would expect: vintage, perfect. I only wish it were coupled with the Milhaud.

There are two "Piano Trio" Concerto/inos. He wrote the second when the first went missing?, or something like that. I have No.2, from the '20s, and, eh, mmm, y'know, it is what it is. I'll have to recheck.

Then there's the Supraphon disc with Sinfonietta Giocosa (for piano) and Divertimento (for piano left-hand). I think the SG is the most felicitous Mozartean/Poulencian creation. This really is the "one" for that sheer Mozartean grace and happy/sad melody. The Divertimento, at the moment, has left a bit of a less impression. Must recheck.

What about the Sinfonietta La Jolla. Is that concertante?

I remember that Chandos/Wallfisch disc of the Cello Concertos. Nothing wrong with that, was there?

Ah yes, and then there's the Oboe Concerto, which I have on that super great Philips disc with Honegger and Martin (Holliger). This one has the same qualities as the Harpsichord.

Oh, now I'm tempted to get that Virgin/Hickox disc again.



All the violin/orchestra stuff I've heard so far has excited me the least. I dunno. But that violin/piano cto. definitely has the curiosity piqued.

That's all I've got. Over to you...
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on August 01, 2010, 06:12:24 AM
And, you all are counting SQ No.7, Concerto da Camera, as a concerto? It's the only SQ I haven't heard. Let me check YouTube.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on August 01, 2010, 06:46:12 AM
Oh oh, looks like you might have triggered a relapse. Oh noooo!

Dude...don't blame me  ;D

Quote
What about the Sinfonietta La Jolla. Is that concertante?

Oh, you just reminded me of the quasi-PCs! Yes, the La Jolla, a de facto piano concerto, is a wonderful piece...as is Toccata e Due Canzoni.

Quote
I remember that Chandos/Wallfisch disc of the Cello Concertos. Nothing wrong with that, was there?

Nothing at all. I'm just wondering if the 2nd CC is in the same class as the 1st (which exists in 3 versions...a rebuke to Martinu skeptics who say "he never revised his work"). It opens magnificently, with an American-type open-air feel; but it doesn't maintain that level of inspiration. Maybe my opinion will change with more listening.

Quote
Oh, now I'm tempted to get that Virgin/Hickox disc again.

Get it, for the Sinf. Conc. There's also a version by Hogwood on Arte Nova floating around out there.

Quote
But that violin/piano cto. definitely has the curiosity piqued.

Get it. Do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars...

And, you all are counting SQ No.7, Concerto da Camera, as a concerto?

Of course not!! It's a string quartet, dude.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on August 02, 2010, 11:41:38 PM
Excellent detailed overview of Martinu's Paris years: could read this all night, very happily!

Found a fascinating tidbit via that link - a review of the 2nd Piano Concerto by, of all people, Elliott Carter:

Martinů’s extreme musicality and freshness of expression are directly winning qualities. He does not always give an impression of unity because he juxtaposes all kinds of music in one piece, even in one movement. In this work he seemed to be playing off Hindemith against certain romantic composers, but the effect is somehow natural and convincing.

In particular, the bit about "he juxtaposes all kinds of music in one piece, even in one movement" reminds me of Carter's own aesthetic.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: just Jeff on August 15, 2010, 08:59:22 PM
Love this cover, I will eventually even listen to the music.

(http://i995.photobucket.com/albums/af80/hiptone/LP%20covers_labels/martinuquartetemift.jpg)

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on August 15, 2010, 09:15:48 PM
That is nice! ;)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: just Jeff on August 15, 2010, 09:18:36 PM
That is nice! ;)

Thanks Snyprr!  I have another one here, just a minute.....

-J
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: just Jeff on August 15, 2010, 09:30:38 PM
another rather nice one..... Supraphon 1014

don't you think?

(http://i995.photobucket.com/albums/af80/hiptone/LP%20covers_labels/martinujazzsupraphon.jpg)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on August 17, 2010, 04:53:03 AM
for those wondering what this composer is about

Found this article in the Guardian. This is probably the best short appreciation of Martinu that I have come across (one or two quibbles notwithstanding), so I think it's worth posting here. It hits all the important points, I think:

Fanfare for the uncommon man

Anthony Bateman The Guardian, Friday 27 March 2009

Purcell, Handel, Haydn and Mendelssohn are being celebrated this year. And rightly so. But there's another composer whose anniversary also falls in 2009, and who, more than any of the above, deserves some much overdue exposure.

Bohuslav Martinů, who died 50 years ago, wrote more than 400 works of every type and genre. For some critics, herein lies the problem. His output, they say, is uneven (as if every work by Beethoven or Shostakovich were a masterpiece). Even more unjustified is a critical habit of labelling Martinů derivative, a charge that wilfully overlooks the composer's striking originality.

As the Czech principal conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Jiří Bělohlávek explains: "I think the richness of styles in Martinů's work is due to his inextinguishable thirst for novelty and inspiration, and his ability to extract from many sources the right amount of elements into his own musical language. Martinů is also probably the most prolific Czech composer and, of course, you can find different levels of genius among them. But at his best, he is irresistibly original, cosmopolitan and Czech in one stroke."

Martinů's life was as remarkable as his music. He was born in 1890 in Polička in the Bohemian-Moravian highlands, where his father was a cobbler, firewatcher and church bellringer. The family home was an apartment in the church tower and Bohuslav, a sickly child, seldom left its lofty confines for his first 12 years. His unusual childhood hugely influenced both his worldview and his often expansive music. He later described looking out from the tower upon a "vast and boundless space I am always searching for in my music".

His search began in Prague where, despite being expelled from the music conservatory for "incorrigible negligence", he went on to work as a second violinist in the Czech Philharmonic. Here he was exposed to the works of Debussy, who became a huge influence on his early compositions such as the dreamy, exotic song cycle Nipponari. At the same time, as the patriotic cantata Czech Rhapsody shows, Martinů consciously positioned himself within the Czech nationalist tradition of Smetana, Dvořák and Josef Suk (with whom he briefly studied). The creative tension between Martinů's profound Czechness and more cosmopolitan influences continued throughout his life, and provides a key to his wonderfully quirky musical language.

In 1923 Martinů moved to Paris. He immersed himself in all the latest avant-garde developments: dadaism, cubism, surrealism and, inevitably, the music of Stravinsky. Works from his early years in Paris include a surrealist opera, The Tears of the Knife, and a jazzy ballet score, La Revue de Cuisine, which features dancing kitchen utensils. Martinů's keen humour was also evident in The Revolt, a ballet in which musical notes call a strike, critics commit suicide and Stravinsky takes refuge on a desert island before a Moravian folk song saves the day.

For many of his compatriots, Martinů had become a French composer, but from the early 30s, he increasingly returned to his Czech roots for inspiration. Martinů loved visiting the landscapes of his childhood, where he became reacquainted with Bohemian and Moravian folk song. The stunningly beautiful adagio of his First Cello Concerto, for example, is liberally imbued with Czech folk melodies.

Martinů's instrumental masterpiece of the late 1930s is the Double Concerto for Two String Orchestras, Piano and Timpani. This intense, highly wrought work reflects the two overriding tensions in the composer's life at the time: love for his young composition pupil, Vítězslava Kaprálová and fears of the impending Nazi occupation. Written at the Swiss home of his benefactor, Paul Sacher, this momentous piece was completed on the day of the Munich Agreement. Its first movement is replete with jazz rhythms, restless syncopations and free polyphony; the second is both defiant and phantasmal, as if evoking the shadow of nazism; and the third is a stirring, hymn-like address to the Czechs, bidding them courage in the face of oppression. The composer Arthur Honegger, who attended its Basle premiere, was stunned by its visceral appeal.

The same period produced the operatic masterpiece, Julietta, a work Bělohlávek conducts in a concert performance at the Barbican tonight. It is a surreal affair set in a town where "the thread of memory has been cut" and only one character has any sense of the past. Martinů's treatment of the subject is an enchanting, dreamlike fantasy, notable for its rhythmic variety, shifting harmonic textures and clearly etched vocal lines.

Bělohlávek regards the work as one of the composer's greatest achievements: "In Julietta, Martinů was not only able to build and sustain the necessary dramatic thread of the surrealist story and libretto, but did so using his unique musical language with a brilliance and skill that can only fill us with admiration. His harmonic material is one of free tonality and the orchestration is very varied, witty and dramatically to the point. His use of piano in the orchestra is also significant. The spoken word also takes on an interesting role, with the composer using it in place of recitative ... For me, the most important quality is the fact that, despite the very exquisite and fantastical world already contained in the synopsis, it is Martinů's music that blends all the elements together and makes the opera a masterpiece."

Magdalena Kožená, a fine interpreter of Martinů's rich legacy of songs, takes the title role. "I have a very strong relationship with Martinů's music," she says, "Like many Czech singers, his songs were some of the first I learned. He was certainly influenced by jazz and French music, but he never effaced his Czech roots; there's a strong Slavic flavour to every melody." Of the role of Julietta - one Kožená likens to that of Debussy's Mélisande - she says: "I thought I'd never sing the role because it's really a soprano part, and if it were very much longer, it would be impossible. One thing that's special about this piece is the way the music builds up to very lyrical moments involving large orchestral forces, and then suddenly, everything stops and you're left with a simple vocal line and no accompaniment. Sure, the story is crazy, but that's another reason I love it."

After 1938, Martinů never set foot in Czechoslovakia again. In 1940, with the German army only days away from Paris, he and his French wife, Charlotte, fled to the US. Now in his early 50s, Martinů had yet to write a symphony, but America was to give the composer a fresh creative spur. The five symphonies that followed at yearly intervals - and the extraordinary, otherworldly sixth, written seven years later - occupy a crucial position in Martinů's oeuvre and established his reputation in the US as the "20th-century Dvořák".

Bělohlávek who, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, will present a complete cycle of the symphonies at the Barbican next season, explains the importance of the venture. "Every time the orchestra and I have encountered Martinů's music," he says, "both musicians and listeners have been surprised at the richness and variety of his musical language. The first five symphonies were written in a relatively short period of time, yet each one has a distinctive character. For today's orchestras, there are no great technical problems, although there's a need to recognise and emphasise certain melodic shapes within Martinů's seemingly mechanical rhythmical patterns. For the audience though, there's really only one challenge: to be eager enough to discover the extraordinary world of Martinů's music."

This summer, a Martinů gem from the last years of his life, the delightful comic opera Mirandolina, receives its British premiere at Garsington Opera. "This anniversary year gives an ideal opportunity to raise his profile," says the company's general director, Anthony Whitworth-Jones. "Martinů's best works stand up to comparison with Janáček, his great compatriot." Martin André, who will conduct the opera, offers an even more intriguing comparison: "Martinů didn't fit into any box - Mirandolina is really a 20th-century version of The Barber of Seville with a punky orchestration."

Later works, such as his Fifth Piano Concerto, The Parables and The Frescoes of Piero della Francesca, reveal a freer, more rhapsodic style. Mark Elder, who recently conducted the last work with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, is a fan of this lustrous, richly textured orchestral triptych. "It is fascinatingly immediate music, harmonically spicy, melodic and very Czech," he says. "I can hear various influences but I don't have a problem with that; it only means that when Martinů's own voice emerges, it's even more striking."

But the last word and plea for his music to remain in the spotlight must go to Martinů himself. "Music must be beautiful," he wrote "or it wouldn't be worth the effort."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/mar/27/bohuslav-martinu-czech-composer

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on August 17, 2010, 04:57:33 AM
Very nice, thanks, Velimir.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: SonicMan46 on August 17, 2010, 06:31:45 AM
Very nice, thanks, Velimir.

Agree - thanks for the link; a nice synopsis of Martinu's life and variety of works - now listening to a recent acquisition:

(http://giradman.smugmug.com/Other/Classical-Music/MartinuPianoConcs/960343360_gtXvK-O.jpg)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: The new erato on August 17, 2010, 12:57:23 PM
This set arrived today!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: DavidW on August 20, 2010, 03:25:06 PM
I have considered Martinů to be a bland neoromantic composer.  But of late I had been listening to the 2nd and 6th symphonies, and while the 2nd fits that description, the 6th symphony is really darned good!  It has a dark, deep character to it and doesn't sound like Vaughan Williams filtered through Dvorak either.  Can any one think of other Martinů works that I might enjoy?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: not edward on August 20, 2010, 05:06:04 PM
I have considered Martinů to be a bland neoromantic composer.  But of late I had been listening to the 2nd and 6th symphonies, and while the 2nd fits that description, the 6th symphony is really darned good!  It has a dark, deep character to it and doesn't sound like Vaughan Williams filtered through Dvorak either.  Can any one think of other Martinů works that I might enjoy?
4th piano concerto, (ideally with Firkusny playing), has much of the rhapsodic character of the 6th symphony and a similar depth.
Other 'dark' Martinu you might consider: Double Concerto, 5th string quartet, Concerto da camera (the one for piano, violin and string orchestra, not the subtitle of the 7th quartet), Memorial to Lidice.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on August 20, 2010, 05:12:07 PM
I have considered Martinů to be a bland neoromantic composer.

It's pretty presumptuous of you to assume that Martinu was a Neo-Romantic. He was far from being a Romantic. If you would examine his music more in depth you will realize this.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: DavidW on August 20, 2010, 06:02:57 PM
Thanks Edward! :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on August 20, 2010, 07:21:54 PM
I have considered Martinů to be a bland neoromantic composer.  But of late I had been listening to the 2nd and 6th symphonies, and while the 2nd fits that description, the 6th symphony is really darned good!  It has a dark, deep character to it and doesn't sound like Vaughan Williams filtered through Dvorak either.  Can any one think of other Martinů works that I might enjoy?

David, Martinu is the anti-neo-romantic. ;D Although if the wrong performer gets hold of his music he might come off sounding like a neo-romantic!

I'd say grab his string quartets FIRST! Go for the Panocha set we talked about at length a couple pages ago. Chamber music is the heart of Martinu, then branch out to Edward's list.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Scarpia on August 20, 2010, 07:36:20 PM
David, Martinu is the anti-neo-romantic. ;D Although if the wrong performer gets hold of his music he might come off sounding like a neo-romantic!

I'd say grab his string quartets FIRST! Go for the Panocha set we talked about at length a couple pages ago. Chamber music is the heart of Martinu, then branch out to Edward's list.

I generally agree.  Chamber music is central, and some of the greatest music is in the concerti for various instruments.  There is a disc of music conducted by Conlon that I mentioned on this thread somewhere that I really enjoyed.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: DavidW on August 21, 2010, 03:53:05 AM
I'd say grab his string quartets FIRST! Go for the Panocha set we talked about at length a couple pages ago. Chamber music is the heart of Martinu, then branch out to Edward's list.

I've already been down the chamber music road before, it's mostly bland.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on August 21, 2010, 07:03:03 PM
...and some of the greatest music is in the concerti for various instruments.  There is a disc of music conducted by Conlon that I mentioned on this thread somewhere that I really enjoyed.

Ah, yes, this one:


(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61Abkvtn%2BrL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)


I meant to comment on this disc earlier but kept forgetting. I have it also and agree it's marvelous. 8)

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on August 23, 2010, 05:31:08 AM
hi there David  :)

The darkest symphony by quite some margin is #3 - surprised no one's mentioned it. It's also very dramatic. Otherwise I think Edward's recs are all good ones.

I've already been down the chamber music road before, it's mostly bland.

I have a vague memory of you reacting that way to the 4tets. With the exception of #5, I don't rank them among his best works. Some great non-4tet chamber works are the cello sonatas, the Nonet, and the piano quintets (esp. #2).

[Now time for me to log off, leave the hotel and go back to exploring Paris - Martinu's home for 17 years]
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on August 23, 2010, 05:32:48 AM
Yikes, do I see a list of 16 operas?

What do our resident Martinů experts consider the "top three" (which I am guessing will include Julietta)?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on August 23, 2010, 05:37:41 AM
I have a vague memory of you [DavidW] reacting that way to the 4tets. With the exception of #5, I don't rank them among his best works. Some great non-4tet chamber works are the cello sonatas, the Nonet, and the piano quintets (esp. #2).

There's a kind of quiet modesty to most of the quartets, and much of the piano music.  If one is looking for Major Utterance there (to rival, say, the Bartók quartets or Prokofiev's piano music), one may miss the simple charm of the music . . . part of the message must be, that there's still room for simple (and just plain good) music-making even in the 20th century.

Interestingly, I am thinking along similar lines with the Hindemith piano sonatas.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on August 23, 2010, 06:04:38 AM
Took me long enough, I know . . . but I've pulled the trigger on Gilgamesh).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Lethevich on August 23, 2010, 06:45:54 AM
@ Karl: though I'm far from expert, the later the better I find - although I have only heard half of them ;_:

Ariane (a small gem) and the Greek Passion I would probably add with Julietta - The Marriage is also very fine.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on August 23, 2010, 06:54:51 AM
@ Karl: though I'm far from expert, the later the better I find - although I have only heard half of them ;_:

I haven't heard the first or second quartet, Sara; but the third already has sufficient character to it that I have no complaint with it ; )

Quote from: Lethe
Ariane (a small gem) and the Greek Passion I would probably add with Julietta - The Marriage is also very fine.

Thanks!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on August 23, 2010, 07:34:32 AM

Ariane (a small gem) and the Greek Passion I would probably add with Julietta - The Marriage is also very fine.

Already some kind of a consensus here, because that's what I was about to say too.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on August 23, 2010, 05:50:57 PM
Agree - thanks for the link; a nice synopsis of Martinu's life and variety of works - now listening to a recent acquisition:

(http://giradman.smugmug.com/Other/Classical-Music/MartinuPianoConcs/960343360_gtXvK-O.jpg)

I've never heard No.5. I know No.4 is very magical. Does 5 continue from there? It has quite the reputation, but the DG never made it to cd.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on August 24, 2010, 02:56:02 AM
Already some kind of a consensus here, because that's what I was about to say too.

Thank you both (I think)! ; )

I've plunged right in and found Amazon third-party sellers of Julietta, Ariane, The Greek Passion & Gilgameš.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on August 24, 2010, 02:58:05 AM
Don't worry, you won't be disappointed!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on August 24, 2010, 02:59:14 AM
I am sure of it! The parenthesis was my wallet talking.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on August 29, 2010, 03:31:02 AM
Took me long enough, I know . . . but I've pulled the trigger on Gilgamesh).

Gilgamesh is yet another piece that contradicts the misguided stereotype of Martinu as a happyface feelgood composer. Its bleakness and death-haunted implacability are quite chilling. It evokes the vast deserts of Mesopotamia and the stony harshness of antiquity.

You should also like it if you dig Walton's Belshazzar's Feast or Honegger's Le Roi David - it's that kind of piece.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on August 29, 2010, 07:41:59 AM
Took me long enough, I know . . . but I've pulled the trigger on Gilgamesh).

The Epic of Gilgamesh is an excellent work. Do you own this disc, Karl?
 
(http://www.supraphon.com/!img_katalog/SU3956_2_xl.gif)
 
This is an excellent recording of two of Martinu's impressionism-inspired creations: Magic Nights and Nipponari. Both are definitely worth hearing as is Czech Rhapsody, which just bursts with youthful exuberance. The conducting of Belohlavek and playing of the Prague Symphony Orchestra are top-notch.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on August 29, 2010, 04:56:07 PM
I finally heard most of SQ No.7 on YouTube, and I don't know what it is, but I just don't dig M's SQs. I love the Duo No.1, and I'm starting to think that the String Sextet is his deepest chamber work ( :o,...I know).

That Virgin disc is goin for like $40 used??? :o :o I wasn't going to pay $3 for it! >:D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on August 31, 2010, 07:18:15 AM
Gilgamesh is yet another piece that contradicts the misguided stereotype of Martinu as a happyface feelgood composer. Its bleakness and death-haunted implacability are quite chilling. It evokes the vast deserts of Mesopotamia and the stony harshness of antiquity.

I've got so much Martinů that has landed, for me to catch up with . . . but right at the moment I am obsessed (happily) with this very-nearly-complete viola sonata.  I did listen to the very first track of Gilgameš — gripping, wonderful stuff!

Quote from: Velimir
You should also like it if you dig Walton's Belshazzar's Feast or Honegger's Le Roi David - it's that kind of piece.

I need to revisit both of those . . . I've done pendulum swings on both over the years.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on August 31, 2010, 07:19:41 AM
The Epic of Gilgamesh is an excellent work. Do you own this disc, Karl?
 
(http://www.supraphon.com/!img_katalog/SU3956_2_xl.gif)

I do not, though that may prove a matter of time.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on August 31, 2010, 02:13:39 PM
I do not, though that may prove a matter of time.

It's a beautiful disc that I think you would enjoy so much since, like me, you're a big Martinu fan.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: DavidW on October 01, 2010, 04:41:05 AM
Thanks for the recs everyone!  Thanks got busy and I had left, but now I'll be looking into the recordings mentioned.  Especially since my Pettersson cd hasn't arrived yet, I might buy one of those works mentioned on mp3 today, and by today in the next half hour. :D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on October 01, 2010, 04:49:54 AM
It's a beautiful disc that I think you would enjoy so much since, like me, you're a big Martinu fan.

I've Wish-Listed it, which I find a good way to be reminded after I shall likely have forgotten ; )

I've already gone against my expectations, and I went ahead and listened to the lovely The Opening of the Wells disc, although I had planned to leave it until after my own Cantata.  But I was in the midst of Viola Sonata, and getting Tempus fungus under way, so the Wells did not seem a likely disruption.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on January 26, 2011, 11:38:08 PM
getting to know Juliette

I finally got hold of this recording, and had my first (though incomplete) listen last night:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ZchKBBSlL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

What stands out the most is how much of Martinu's post-Juliette style you can hear in it. Chunks of it seem to have been incorporated directly into the 6th Symphony, and you hear echoes of the opera in his late (magical, hallucinatory) style. I only listened to the brief orchestral suite and one of the 3 scenes, and was probably too jet-lagged to pay proper attention. But such is my first impression.

I'm beginning to wonder if the 6th Symphony should be considered one of those opera-derived symphonies, like Prokofiev's 3rd, Vaughan Williams' 5th, or Hindemith's Mathis der Maler and Harmonie der Welt.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on January 27, 2011, 01:08:10 AM
The 6th does indeed contain direct quotations from Julietta, but I wouldn't say it's an opera-derived piece, any more than (say) Dvorak's Cello Concerto derives from the song of his that he quotes in the last movement. Just as in the Dvorak, in the Martinu the quotations are both self-referential and self-contained: they function like a signature, in a sense. In the Dvorak they seem to say 'writing this made me think about my past'; in the Martinu (remembering that Martinu considered Julietta his best and most important work) they seem to say 'this work is dear to me also.'
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Guido on January 27, 2011, 02:45:21 AM
The 6th does indeed contain direct quotations from Julietta, but I wouldn't say it's an opera-derived piece, any more than (say) Dvorak's Cello Concerto derives from the song of his that he quotes in the last movement.

(And more prominantly in the second movement.)

Still need to get this and the other Julietta CD.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: just Jeff on January 28, 2011, 11:16:27 PM
String Quartets w/ the Panocha Quartet - recent arrival and just beginning a second 'more serious' listening to these varied works which were written over nearly a 30-year period (1918 to 1947); the Panocha Q. do not disappoint but DD in recent pages has elegantly express his feelings on these performances; the recorded sound is remarkably good (made from 1979-82) -  :D

(http://giradman.smugmug.com/Other/Classical-Music/MartinuSQsPanocha/951818016_bUZHX-O.jpg)

Who is DD may I ask?  And what did they say about these SQs?  I have them spinning on vinyl at the moment, and thought I'd look up comments on the Panocha set myself.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: SonicMan46 on January 29, 2011, 07:31:12 AM
Who is DD may I ask?  And what did they say about these SQs?  I have them spinning on vinyl at the moment, and thought I'd look up comments on the Panocha set myself.

DD = Dancing Divertimentian, i.e. one of our GMG members; go back to the July-August pages of this thread for comments -  :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on January 29, 2011, 09:18:37 AM
Just listening to the Nonet. Mozart of the 20th Century.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on January 29, 2011, 09:40:52 AM
Just listening to the Nonet. Mozart of the 20th Century.

Glorious piece - I like it even better than Stravinsky's Octet. And to think he was dying when he wrote it...
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Guido on April 04, 2011, 07:12:48 AM
This is probably one of those posts I'll regret rereading in a few years, but I'm finding it hard to get on with Martinu. As a colourist and orchestrator he does nervous febrility very well, but there's a bit of a lack of range - everything hums and fizzes, or blares but there's not much else. His harmonic/rhythmic pecularities (they are linked) are used so often and in such a consistently similar context that they begin to irritate too, particularly the constant switching between major and minor, always in the same way. The general harmonic palette seems rather bland compared to his contemporaries or even Czech forebears (we're agreed that Janacek and Dvorak are greater, right?). His melodies are mostly rather unmemorable and very similar to each other too... I've been listening to the 6 Symphonies and Julietta... Maybe I should try more of the chamber music.

That said, I have to say I'm a firm fan of the three cello concertos and even more the three cello sonatas, and these piece contradict much of the above. The full scale concertos are both glowing works (though prolix perhaps), and the sonatas, beautiful, passionate, driving affairs, especially the second which remains my favourite of his works. But the core symphonic output continues to vex me.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on April 04, 2011, 08:27:12 AM

That said, I have to say I'm a firm fan of the three cello concertos and even more the three cello sonatas, and these piece contradict much of the above. The full scale concertos are both glowing works (though prolix perhaps), and the sonatas, beautiful, passionate, driving affairs, especially the second which remains my favourite of his works. But the core symphonic output continues to vex me.

It sounds like you're just a cellophile who is willing to forgive certain things when they emanate from your favorite instrument. Am I on the right track?

I come to this conclusion because I don't find the cello concertos to be stylistically much different from Martinu's other concertos (and in fact there are several concertos that I rank higher than the cello ones; see my earlier ranking - though I do like the 1st CC a lot). So I don't see how they would contradict your objections.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Guido on April 04, 2011, 09:11:36 AM
It sounds like you're just a cellophile who is willing to forgive certain things when they emanate from your favorite instrument. Am I on the right track?

I come to this conclusion because I don't find the cello concertos to be stylistically much different from Martinu's other concertos (and in fact there are several concertos that I rank higher than the cello ones; see my earlier ranking - though I do like the 1st CC a lot). So I don't see how they would contradict your objections.

I haven't heard the other concertos. It is true that I am a cellophile though. I got to know the cello concertos in my early teens, and so part of their appeal is nostalgia perhaps (teenage listening always produceing such vivid impressions) and haven't listened to them for a good while actually. My issues have been in recently pursuing the six symphonies and Julietta. The fundamentally conventional tonality, made misty and out of focus by the teeming, buzzing chromaticism, which should be so appealing to me given my predilictions (Feldman, Ives, early Schoenberg, Berg, Szymanowski to name a few who do similar things though in very different ways), just doesn't deliver anything to me that I feel hasn't been done better elsewhere. Obviously I'm missing something, because he's very highly esteemed by "those in the know", and I certainly don't dislike it, but I came in expecting to love it all (egged on also my love of the cello sonatas), and my reaction has been one of vague disappointment and slight perplexity.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 04, 2011, 11:23:27 AM
I haven't heard the other concertos. It is true that I am a cellophile though. I got to know the cello concertos in my early teens, and so part of their appeal is nostalgia perhaps (teenage listening always produceing such vivid impressions) and haven't listened to them for a good while actually. My issues have been in recently pursuing the six symphonies and Julietta. The fundamentally conventional tonality, made misty and out of focus by the teeming, buzzing chromaticism, which should be so appealing to me given my predilictions (Feldman, Ives, early Schoenberg, Berg, Szymanowski to name a few who do similar things though in very different ways), just doesn't deliver anything to me that I feel hasn't been done better elsewhere. Obviously I'm missing something, because he's very highly esteemed by "those in the know", and I certainly don't dislike it, but I came in expecting to love it all (egged on also my love of the cello sonatas), and my reaction has been one of vague disappointment and slight perplexity.

Martinu was a hard pill to swallow when I first heard him. I just didn't hear anything that jumped out at me until I reached Symphony No. 4. That last movement just explodes with cutting rhythms. The fourth, fifth, and sixth are where I think Martinu really started making a name for himself as a symphonist. After the symphonies, I tried some other works like Double Concerto for String Orchestra which was just outstanding. After this, I heard a recording with some of his song cycles for voice and orchestra (Nipponari, Magic Nights). These made some strong impressions on me and I started to view Martinu in a different light than I had previously. I love his concerti for violin, piano, and cello. I have not heard that many of his other ones like for oboe or harpsichord. These are still on my to-listen-to list. I haven't heard that much of his ballet music, but this may soon change. His operas look interesting in particular The Greek Passion.

Anyway, his output is so vast that I'm sure there might be something you could enjoy. You'll just have to dig through what hasn't connected with you until you find something you truly enjoy. And who knows, after you find something you like, you may go back to those works that didn't resonate with you and end up enjoying them more.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on April 04, 2011, 09:16:28 PM
A note on the symphonies. The first 5 were composed over a short period (1942-46), so they all reflect the basically neoclassical approach he was taking at the time. You might find other periods of his work more appealing to you from a stylistic standpoint.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Guido on April 05, 2011, 12:08:58 AM
Yeah I'll keep trying. Double String concerto, song cycles and chamber works next then...
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: mjwal on April 05, 2011, 01:53:23 AM
The Rhapsody-Concerto for viola & orchestra (Suk)
The 4th piano concerto on that wonderful Turnovsky CD.
Gilgamesh (I have the Supraphon on noisy LPs, great performance, and another on BBC with English narration, also good performance - both Béhlolávek - of course, the subject matter is so gripping...)
Les Fresques de Piero della Francesca (Mackerras)
Memorial to Lidice
Ariadne (I love this short work, perhaps also because of my obsession with the subject matter)
These are some of the highlights for me. I can enjoy the other concertos but in a rather distracted way - ditto the chamber music I have heard.
As to the symphonies, I dislike Järvi's insensitive boom-boom recordings of 3 & 4, which I only keep as a bad example, find Neumann's 2 & 6 decent, and love Ancerl's recordings, particularly the (radio?) recordings of 1,3 & 5 formerly on Multisonic, with so-so sound but an elan and expressiveness beyond even his Supraphon recordings of 5 & 6. Turnovsky's #4 reigns supreme. I can hear what you mean when you criticise these works, Guido, but for me it very much depends on the interpretation to bring out the expression and make you forget the devices. There is also a very good #6 by Kout on Arte Nova, a disc that is almost a Martinů anthology and ridiculously cheap in Germany.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Lethevich on April 05, 2011, 06:46:26 AM
Nice suggestions, mjwal - Ariadne is magical.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Scarpia on April 05, 2011, 07:24:09 AM
This is probably one of those posts I'll regret rereading in a few years, but I'm finding it hard to get on with Martinu. As a colourist and orchestrator he does nervous febrility very well, but there's a bit of a lack of range - everything hums and fizzes, or blares but there's not much else. His harmonic/rhythmic pecularities (they are linked) are used so often and in such a consistently similar context that they begin to irritate too, particularly the constant switching between major and minor, always in the same way. The general harmonic palette seems rather bland compared to his contemporaries or even Czech forebears (we're agreed that Janacek and Dvorak are greater, right?). His melodies are mostly rather unmemorable and very similar to each other too... I've been listening to the 6 Symphonies and Julietta... Maybe I should try more of the chamber music.

That said, I have to say I'm a firm fan of the three cello concertos and even more the three cello sonatas, and these piece contradict much of the above. The full scale concertos are both glowing works (though prolix perhaps), and the sonatas, beautiful, passionate, driving affairs, especially the second which remains my favourite of his works. But the core symphonic output continues to vex me.

I'll echo what someone else said above, Martinu wrote 6 symphonies one might be led to assume that the symphony would be well representative of his work, but I don't feel they are.  They were all written during a short period during a long career and reflect only one aspect of his art.  I find his concertos for various instruments to be his most characteristic pieces.  They also have to be taken on their own terms, they are put to gether in a unique way and sometimes I have impression that they are closer to jazz improvisations than customary classical music.   Anyway,  I love the stuff (almost everything I hear) but I can see it is not for everyone.

As long as I'm at it, this is a release that I found particularly interesting, wonderful sound and performance and music from diverse styles.


Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Grazioso on April 05, 2011, 08:06:35 AM
This is probably one of those posts I'll regret rereading in a few years, but I'm finding it hard to get on with Martinu. As a colourist and orchestrator he does nervous febrility very well, but there's a bit of a lack of range - everything hums and fizzes, or blares but there's not much else. His harmonic/rhythmic pecularities (they are linked) are used so often and in such a consistently similar context that they begin to irritate too, particularly the constant switching between major and minor, always in the same way. The general harmonic palette seems rather bland compared to his contemporaries or even Czech forebears (we're agreed that Janacek and Dvorak are greater, right?). His melodies are mostly rather unmemorable and very similar to each other too... I've been listening to the 6 Symphonies and Julietta... Maybe I should try more of the chamber music.

That said, I have to say I'm a firm fan of the three cello concertos and even more the three cello sonatas, and these piece contradict much of the above. The full scale concertos are both glowing works (though prolix perhaps), and the sonatas, beautiful, passionate, driving affairs, especially the second which remains my favourite of his works. But the core symphonic output continues to vex me.

I'll second the Barone regarding the symphonies (which I much enjoy): Martinu didn't compose the first until he was 52 and wrote five of them in five years, so I don't know that they can be rightly be seen as a core of his output (though they are undoubtedly substantial).

I take your point about his style, though: it's so strongly stamped and unusual that it might wear thin. (I think of Bruckner, with his highly idiosyncratic style that gives most of his work a superficially "samey" quality.) But you can find Martinu works that break the mold, such as his beautiful 1st string quartet--sort of French impressionism crossed with Bax, for want of a more apt description :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on April 05, 2011, 08:15:55 AM
Try some late Martinu, Guido - the Nonet, for instance. Especially try the very late chamber cantatas, which are adorably folk-influenced works, stripped-down, unpretentious, humble, honest, heartfelt, homesick music (they aren't just Czech, they are specifically Polickan, the yearnings of an old man for the hometown he will never see again).

But I did like mjwal's list, too - for me, the Martinu which I return to most obsessively is a similar list - and you must have heard me bang on about Turnovsky's 4th in the past
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 05, 2011, 09:06:53 AM
Let's see if I can compile a little list for our friend Guido of some of my favorite Martinu recordings:

















Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Guido on April 06, 2011, 07:38:37 AM
Thanks for the suggestions guys - Luke and mjwal's suggestions seem right up my street.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on May 16, 2011, 06:28:22 AM
Kytice

Now that's a piece that doesn't get much attention around here. Does it deserve it? I've only heard snippets, and it sounds suspiciously Stravinskian, a la Les Noces.

Here's an intriguing video from Prague Spring 2010, on a ballet version of this cantata:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTJwg5UQrmA
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 01, 2011, 05:00:04 AM
Imad Moustapha weighs in

There's hope for the Middle East yet. Turns out Syria's ambassador to the US is a Martinu fan:

http://imad_moustapha.blogs.com/my_weblog/2010/03/martinu.html
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on July 01, 2011, 05:03:42 AM
With that diacritic over the u . . . maybe he thinks the composer is Turkish, je-je-je!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: TheGSMoeller on July 06, 2011, 09:38:29 AM
Any recommendation for...



I love the nonet and have this disc...



But the extra Martinu pieces on the first disc seem appealing.



Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on July 06, 2011, 09:46:36 AM
Any recommendation for...


I picked up that very disc (a two-fer) on Luke's suggestion; it is very good.  (I was listening to it again just last week.)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Lethevich on July 06, 2011, 09:51:22 AM
The Hyperion disc is such a useful collection of all the Madrigal pieces - so well performed too.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brewski on July 06, 2011, 09:57:05 AM
I picked up that very disc (a two-fer) on Luke's suggestion; it is very good.  (I was listening to it again just last week.)

The Hyperion disc is such a useful collection of all the Madrigal pieces - so well performed too.

And another "yes" vote - delightful music, delightfully played. That CD was my very first encounter with the composer, and since I now have dozens of Martinů recordings, the experience must have been satisfactory.  ;D

--Bruce
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: TheGSMoeller on July 06, 2011, 10:13:10 AM
Thanks for the responses!

I may be a little behind in the recommendations still being somewhat new to GMG, but this disc of Martinu flute music might be my most played disc in my Martinu collection. I highly recommend it.



Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 06, 2011, 08:43:57 PM
Thanks for the responses!

And here comes another vote in favor  :) like Karl, I was listening to that set only last week; and like Bruce, it was one of the first Martinu recordings I bought.

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on July 07, 2011, 06:38:05 AM
Haven't listened to Martinu for ages. Used to listen to his music allot when I was younger. I wouldn't mind hearing 'The Epic of Gilgamesh' again,but some of his music is a bit TOO grim for my liking. I notice Naxos have reissued 'Gilgamesh' with a more interesting photo on the front. I might buy this. On the other hand,maybe there is a better recording now,as that one's a few years old?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on July 07, 2011, 06:56:32 AM
Haven't listened to Martinu for ages. Used to listen to his music allot when I was younger. I wouldn't mind hearing 'The Epic of Gilgamesh' again,but some of his music is a bit TOO grim for my liking.

Interesting that you give this as an overriding impression. Au contraire, I've found that the larger part of his music which I've come to know is quick-footed, charming, sparkling! 
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on July 07, 2011, 08:13:04 AM
Haven't listened to Martinu for ages. Used to listen to his music allot when I was younger....but some of his music is a bit TOO grim for my liking.

That's an interesting take on Martinu but one that really isn't true across the board. Pound for pound there's more Martinu which edifies than oppresses...actually, by a wide margin.... :)


Quote
I notice Naxos have reissued 'Gilgamesh' with a more interesting photo on the front. I might buy this. On the other hand,maybe there is a better recording now,as that one's a few years old?

There are only two recordings I know of: one on Supraphon and the other on Naxos (originally on Marco Polo). Both get high marks from the press but I've only heard the Supraphon recording. It's great.

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on July 07, 2011, 09:23:33 AM
Actually,'grim' isn't really the right word. I think 'tragedy' is closer to the mark. Yes, the music is often joyous and uplifting in tone,but there's so much tragedy and suffering there. An artists response to the suffering of his people,of course,but like allot of late Shostakovich it's a bit too much for me. (At the same time,it would be a bit disturbing if Martinu's music didn't reflect this).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Lethevich on July 07, 2011, 09:30:43 AM
Some of Martinů's output does echo with memories of his time, but I feel that he offers more escapism than representation in his works - although he certainly has his darker moments, and the inspiration is there even if it's less overt than Shostakovich.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 07, 2011, 09:05:43 PM
Actually,'grim' isn't really the right word. I think 'tragedy' is closer to the mark.

I agree with this. There's a lot of Martinu that can be described as tragic, tense, or dark (Double Cto., Memorial to Lidice,3rd Symphony, etc.), but what I never hear from him is the sort of hopeless bleakness I get from a lot of Shostakovich, especially his later works.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: mjwal on July 08, 2011, 07:14:00 AM
That's an interesting take on Martinu but one that really isn't true across the board. Pound for pound there's more Martinu which edifies than oppresses...actually, by a wide margin.... :)


There are only two recordings I know of: one on Supraphon and the other on Naxos (originally on Marco Polo). Both get high marks from the press but I've only heard the Supraphon recording. It's great.
There is actually a second recording of The Epic of Gilgamesh by Béhlolâvek that was issued by the BBC Music magazine, with the BBCSO, Urbanova and other Czech soloists, rec. 1995, better sound than the Supraphon, with narration in English, which is helpful. Don't suppose it is available now.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on July 08, 2011, 09:10:20 AM
Another work I keep thinking of investing in is 'The Miracle of our Lady'. I remember it was broadcast on R3 some years ago & it made some impression on me. Yet, finding any kind of reviews or information about it,on the web,is not easy. Has anyone here been impressed by this work? Have to say,the cover design for the Supraphon cd issue is not one of their best! (Not that I'm buying it for that,of course). I think when I first heard it Lp's were still King of the Hill?!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 08, 2011, 09:11:50 AM
RIP Josef Suk

That fine violinist and violist is dead at the age of 81:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/08/arts/music/josef-suk-violinist-dies-at-81.html?_r=1

I will listen to his recording of Martinu's Rhapsody-Concerto for Viola in his memory.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on July 08, 2011, 09:35:47 AM
RIP Josef Suk

That fine violinist and violist is dead at the age of 81:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/08/arts/music/josef-suk-violinist-dies-at-81.html?_r=1 (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/08/arts/music/josef-suk-violinist-dies-at-81.html?_r=1)

I will listen to his recording of Martinu's Rhapsody-Concerto for Viola in his memory.

Mmm, and a particularly tasty work!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on July 08, 2011, 04:06:28 PM
There is actually a second recording of The Epic of Gilgamesh by Béhlolâvek that was issued by the BBC Music magazine, with the BBCSO, Urbanova and other Czech soloists, rec. 1995, better sound than the Supraphon, with narration in English, which is helpful. Don't suppose it is available now.

Ah, thank you for the info. So, one of those BBC music mag one-offs. I wonder what it's like....?


Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: mjwal on July 09, 2011, 12:37:24 AM
Ah, thank you for the info. So, one of those BBC music mag one-offs. I wonder what it's like....?
It's very good - unless you find the occasional spoken narration in English jarring: I find it a bit too loud. Of course, I cannot tell how authentic the BBC choir's Czech pronunciation is, but as the conductor is a native speaker... I happened to bring it along to Berlin and am listening to it now.Someone should upload this - but I don't know how to do that and will not learn now.
P.S. rec. (very clearly if without the ultimate degree of presence in the climaxes) at the RFH. 28/01/1995
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 09, 2011, 01:06:06 AM
It's very good - unless you find the occasional spoken narration in English jarring: I find it a bit too loud. Of course, I cannot tell how authentic the BBC choir's Czech pronunciation is, but as the conductor is a native speaker... I happened to bring it along to Berlin and am listening to it now.Someone should upload this - but I don't know how to do that and will not learn now.
P.S. rec. (very clearly if without the ultimate degree of presence in the climaxes) at the RFH. 28/01/1995

I have it and can upload it, but not today.

Re Josef Suk - terrible news. I never heard a recording by him which did not move me with its warmth and humanity. A truly great artist.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on July 09, 2011, 07:04:39 AM
My local cd/tape/lp 'record stall' sometimes has a selection of ex BBC Music Magazine cd's (and cassettes!). I'll have to look. Someone obviously likes a bit of money back on their glossy mag!!! (I don't expect he get's much from her).
I must admit the whole idea of narration in English sounds 'wrong',but if the performance is good & not like Peter Ustinov in 'Hary Janos' (remember all those funny voices?)!!!!
  By the way,regarding my comments about Martinu,above. I obviously hadn't listened to him for a while. I put the Jarvi Bis cd's in my 5 cd changer and was listening very happily ALL night. 'Grim'? I surely meant 'life affirming'.
As to 'The Miracle of our Lady'. I listened to a very generous helping online and I WILL DEFINATELY be buying the Supraphon set. I was right about that R3 broadcast. One of Bohuslav's best! (But Supraphon really should do something about that b***** awful cover design. She looks like Ray Milland in 'The Man with two heads'!

PS: Is any of Martinu's ballet music worth adding to my collection? The list at
      Wikipedia is pretty long!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Drasko on July 09, 2011, 07:24:18 AM
Belohlavek's BBC Gilgamesh can be had for relatively cheap, used from amazon.uk.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Martinu-Gilgamesh-INVOCATION-Belohlavek-Conductor/dp/B004OA2BT0
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Lethevich on July 09, 2011, 08:43:46 AM
Re Josef Suk - terrible news. I never heard a recording by him which did not move me with its warmth and humanity. A truly great artist.

Indeed - he even made me almost enjoy Beethoven's VC.

np: Martinů's curious early tone poem for string quartet - my own designation, not his - Tři Jezdci (Three Horsemen).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on July 09, 2011, 08:53:00 AM
Beethoven's VC. I had 'Gorgeous Pouter' Ann Sophie Mutter's 'version' on last night. She dropped the old woolly jumpers a while back,I hear!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 09, 2011, 10:25:25 AM
np: Martinů's curious early tone poem for string quartet - my own designation, not his - Tři Jezdci (Three Horsemen).

I had the first page of that, in Martinu's juvenile best script, on the mystery scores thread - here http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,3125.msg236310.html#msg236310 Wow, nearly three years ago!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 11, 2011, 02:53:47 PM
Ah, thank you for the info. So, one of those BBC music mag one-offs. I wonder what it's like....?

I haven't heard it but I do own the Belohvalek recording on Supraphon with the Prague Symphony Orchestra. From the one review I've read of his BBC performance, it is quite negative. The reviewer gives it a one-star citing that the choice of English wasn't particularly noteworthy. I would stick to the Supraphon recording.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on July 11, 2011, 11:14:52 PM
I tend to agree with you MI. A pity they made such a rash decision. I seem to remember the Marco Polo was quite good,but I think I'll go with the Supraphon this time around. On the plus side,I wish BBC Music Mag would do rarer works like Gilgamesh more often. A certain mammoth offering at the Proms this year might even sell a few extra copies of their glossy rag (I'm an IRR man myself).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on July 12, 2011, 04:23:00 AM
Well, dunning a performance because of translation is a curious one-issue-voter tic.  I'd be interested in any comment on the quality of the performance . . . .
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: not edward on July 12, 2011, 04:32:39 AM
Well, dunning a performance because of translation is a curious one-issue-voter tic.  I'd be interested in any comment on the quality of the performance . . . .
I've never had a problem with it, but as it's my only Gilgamesh, I'd be loath to comment further. I should probably investigate the Supraphon issue, given that it's comparatively inexpensive, but there's so many Martinu works that have claims to my attention. I've found the sheer quantity of Martinu gets in the way of exploring; there are so many good pieces that some get left by the wayside. Plus there's that handful of pieces that are so outstanding that I keep ending up listening to them instead: the 3rd and 6th symphonies; Frescoes; Parables; the Double Concerto; the concerto for violin, piano and orchestra; the 4th piano concerto; Memorial to Lidice; the Nonet....
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 12, 2011, 06:39:38 AM
Well, dunning a performance because of translation is a curious one-issue-voter tic.  I'd be interested in any comment on the quality of the performance . . . .

I agree to some extent, Karl, but I have to say that for somebody's first recording of Gilgamesh I do hope they choose the original Czech version of the work because this was, after all, how Martinu intended for us to hear the work.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 12, 2011, 06:40:53 AM
I tend to agree with you MI. A pity they made such a rash decision. I seem to remember the Marco Polo was quite good,but I think I'll go with the Supraphon this time around. On the plus side,I wish BBC Music Mag would do rarer works like Gilgamesh more often. A certain mammoth offering at the Proms this year might even sell a few extra copies of their glossy rag (I'm an IRR man myself).

I only own the Belohlavek recording on Supraphon and quite honestly I don't see a need to supplement it with another recording. It's just that satisfactory.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 12, 2011, 06:56:02 AM
I've never had a problem with it, but as it's my only Gilgamesh, I'd be loath to comment further. I should probably investigate the Supraphon issue, given that it's comparatively inexpensive, but there's so many Martinu works that have claims to my attention. I've found the sheer quantity of Martinu gets in the way of exploring; there are so many good pieces that some get left by the wayside. Plus there's that handful of pieces that are so outstanding that I keep ending up listening to them instead: the 3rd and 6th symphonies; Frescoes; Parables; the Double Concerto; the concerto for violin, piano and orchestra; the 4th piano concerto; Memorial to Lidice; the Nonet....

I understand what you mean Edward, but there are many more jewels to be discovered. There's many works you didn't list like his song cycles Magic Nights and Nipponari, which only exist in one recording (w/ Belohlavek, Prague Symphony Orchestra), the cello concerti, Czech Rhapsody, Sinfonietta la Jolla, Estampes (this is top-drawer Martinu all the way), among others. Since you're already familiar enough many of his works, I would go ahead and take the plunge into some more unknown Martinu.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 12, 2011, 06:57:59 AM
I sent Greg (one of our resident Martinu fanatics) a PM last night and we both shared and compared collections last night, here is my current Martinu collection. Any suggestions of where to go next would be welcome:

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

-Complete Symphonies, Vaclav Neumann, CzPO, Supraphon
-Complete Symphonies, Vladimir Valek, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Supraphon
-Complete Symphonies, Bryden Thomson, Royal Scottish National Orch., Chandos
-Complete Symphonies, Neeme Jarvi, Bamberg Symphony Orch., BIS
-Piano Concertos 1-5, Emil Leichner, Jiri Belohlavek, CzPO, Supraphon
-Epic of Gilgamesh, Jiri Belohlavek, Prague Symphony Orch., Supraphon
-Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4, Jiri Belohlavek, CzPO, Supraphon
-Symphonies Nos. 5 & 6, Jiri Belohlavek, CzPO, Supraphon
-Field Mass, Memorial to Lidice, Symphony No. 4, Jiri Belohlavek, CzPO, Chandos
-Symphony No. 1, Concerto for Double String Orchestra, Jiri Beloholavek, CzPO, Chandos
-Symphony  No. 6 (couples with Janacek, Suk), Jiri Belohlavek, CzPO, Chandos
-Overture, Rhapsody, Sinfonia concertante, Parables, Jiri Belohlavek, CzPO, Supraphon
-Cello Concertos, Cello Concertino, Raphael Wallfisch, Jiri Belohlavek, CzPO, Chandos
-Magic Nights, Nipponari, Czech Rhapsody, Jiri Belohlavek, Prague Symphony Orch., Supraphon
-The Spectre's Bride, The Romance of the Dandelions, The Primrose, Jiri Belohlavek, Brno Philharmonic Orch., Supraphon
-Violin Concerto No. 2, Toccata e due canzoni, Isabelle Faust, Jiri Belohlavek, Prague Philharmonia, Harmonia Mundi
-Three Fragments from "Julietta," Suite from Julietta, Magdalena Kozená, Charles Mackerras,  CzPO, Supraphon
-Complete String Quartets, Panocha Quartet, Supraphon
-Complete Music for Violin and Orchestra, Vols. 1-4, Christopher Hogwood, CzPO, Hyperion
-Le Raid merveilleux; La Revue de cuisine; On tourne!, Christopher Hogwood, CzPO, Supraphon
-La revue de cuisine, Merry Christmas 1941, Sinfonietta 'La Jolla,' Toccata e due canzoni, Christopher Hogwood, CzPO, Supraphon
-Sinfonietta la Jolla; Toccata e due Canzoni; Concerto Grosso, Ondrej Kukal, Prague Chamber Orch., Supraphon
-Cello Concertos, Angelica May, Vaclav Neumann, CzPO, Supraphon
-Violin Concertos, Josef Suk, Vaclav Neumann, CzPO, Supraphon
-Piano Quintets 1 & 2, Martinu Quartet, Naxos
-Symphonies 5 & 6, Karel Ancerl, CzPO, Supraphon
-Field Mass, Double Concerto, Les Fresques de Piero della Francesca, Charles Mackerras, CzPO, Prague Radio Symphony, Supraphon

Bought tonight:

-Julietta (A Dream Book), Jaroslav Krombholc, Prague National Theatre Orch. Supraphon
-The Greek Passion, Charles Mackerras, Kühn Children's Chorus, Czech Philharmonic Chorus, Brno Philharmonic, Supraphon
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 12, 2011, 07:06:44 AM
Don' worry, MI, I"m pretty sure Edward knows his Martinu inside out and back to front. I agree with the potted list he made, too (I'd add a couple of other works, maybe). But that Magic Nights disc you often mention - well, certainly the music is very pleasant, and it's definitely well worth hearing, espeically for a Martinu fan (I remember reading about those songs in Safranek's biography years ago, before they'd ever been recorded, and salivating at the descriptions of them; the Czech Rhapsody OTOH I've known for more than two decades). But I can't agree that anything on that disc is top draw, first rank Martinu, nor is it stylistically typical of him, and so I'd hesitate about putting it high up a list of if-you-want-to-get-into-Martinu-try-this recommendations. All IMO of course.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 12, 2011, 07:11:02 AM
As for recommendations I'd add - the ones I always do, and others too. I only say them again because I didn't see them on your list.

The Hyperion twofer of chamber music



The Supraphon recording of the late chamber cantatas.

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: TheGSMoeller on July 12, 2011, 07:12:11 AM
I understand what you mean Edward, but there are many more jewels to be discovered. There's many works you didn't list like his song cycles Magic Nights and Nipponari, which only exist in one recording (w/ Belohlavek, Prague Symphony Orchestra), the cello concerti, Czech Rhapsody, Sinfonietta la Jolla, Estampes (this is top-drawer Martinu all the way), among others. Since you're already familiar enough many of his works, I would go ahead and take the plunge into some more unknown Martinu.

I have found myself lately searching for as much chamber music of Martinu as possible. I really haven't come across a chamber piece of his I didn't enjoy.
Here are two discs that I highly recommend.




Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on July 12, 2011, 07:13:59 AM
As for recommendations I'd add - the ones I always do, and others too. I only say them again because I didn't see them on your list.

The Hyperion twofer of chamber music



The Supraphon recording of the late chamber cantatas.


I heeded these recommendations, and am glad so to have done. (Just saying.)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 12, 2011, 07:21:45 AM
Don' worry, MI, I"m pretty sure Edward knows his Martinu inside out and back to front. I agree with the potted list he made, too (I'd add a couple of other works, maybe). But that Magic Nights disc you often mention - well, certainly the music is very pleasant, and it's definitely well worth hearing, espeically for a Martinu fan (I remember reading about those songs in Safranek's biography years ago, before they'd ever been recorded, and salivating at the descriptions of them; the Czech Rhapsody OTOH I've known for more than two decades). But I can't agree that anything on that disc is top draw, first rank Martinu, nor is it stylistically typical of him, and so I'd hesitate about putting it high up a list of if-you-want-to-get-into-Martinu-try-this recommendations. All IMO of course.

I disagree. I think the disc containing Magic Nights, Nipponari, and Czech Rhapsody are top-drawer Martinu. Are they stylistically different from a lot of his music? Of course they are but that is what makes them so compelling I think. The fact that Martinu's music can't be pigeon-holed is, in itself, one of the characteristics a fan of Martinu's music must come to terms with. These works are still unmistakably Martinu whether he composed them in his 20s or later in life.

So in closing, you disagreed with these works quality, I happy challenged your assertions.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 12, 2011, 07:47:50 AM
I disagree. I think the disc containing Magic Nights, Nipponari, and Czech Rhapsody are top-drawer Martinu. Are they stylistically different from a lot of his music? Of course they are but that is what makes them so compelling I think. The fact that Martinu's music can't be pigeon-holed is, in itself, one of the characteristics a fan of Martinu's music must come to terms with. These works are still unmistakably Martinu whether he composed them in his 20s or later in life.

So in closing, you disagreed with these works quality, I happy challenged your assertions.

That's fine. And I repeat - I really do like that disc a lot too. Very pleased I bought it, and in particular it was nice to hear those two tempting-sounding song cycles at last. But if it was the only Martinu I knew, I would have a very skewed picture of who he was as a composer, and I might well not explore more. Because my reaction, hearing that disc for the first time was - interesting, listen to all the inlfuences he hasn't shed yet, here's a bit of Debussy, here's a bit of Tchaikovsky, that bit sounds rather undigested.... So if I hadn't already known how much more personal Martinu's voice (his many voices) was/were to become I would possibly have thought 'nice, but not worth exploring further.'

So the reason I wrote the last post, and this one, is only because I worry about this fine disc of early Martinu being a put forward as a prime get-to-know-him-this-way recommendation. I am more than aware, of course, of Martinu's many different styles. But the music on this disc isn't representative of any of those styles, it's representative of a composer slowly finding his voice and shedding voices which aren't his. Whatever you say, the music here, despite it's seductive surfaces, is not top-notch, and quite understandably so - he was a young composer learning his craft. And so technically, formally, orchestrally, they can be quite clumsy - which is not just my opinion. In fact, Martinu himself called the Czech Rhapsody amateurish!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 12, 2011, 07:58:45 AM
That's fine. And I repeat - I really do like that disc a lot too. Very pleased I bought it, and in particular it was nice to hear those two tempting-sounding song cycles at last. But if it was the only Martinu I knew, I would have a very skewed picture of who he was as a composer, and I might well not explore more. Because my reaction, hearing that disc for the first time was - interesting, listen to all the inlfuences he hasn't shed yet, here's a bit of Debussy, here's a bit of Tchaikovsky, that bit sounds rather undigested.... So if I hadn't already known how much more personal Martinu's voice (his many voices) was/were to become I would possibly have thought 'nice, but not worth exploring further.'

So the reason I wrote the last post, and this one, is only because I worry about this fine disc of early Martinu being a put forward as a prime get-to-know-him-this-way recommendation. I am more than aware, of course, of Martinu's many different styles. But the music on this disc isn't representative of any of those styles, it's representative of a composer slowly finding his voice and shedding voices which aren't his. Whatever you say, the music here, despite it's seductive surfaces, is not top-notch, and quite understandably so - he was a young composer learning his craft. And so technically, formally, orchestrally, they can be quite clumsy - which is not just my opinion. In fact, Martinu himself called the Czech Rhapsody amateurish!

What a composer thinks of their own music never meant much to me. Hell, Lutoslawski hated Concerto for Orchestra. Lord knows why he did, but he did!

I don't think your criticism of Martinu's early music is a fair one. All composers have influences that they carry with them throughout their lives. Even late Martinu has influences: Stravinsky particularly and he even reintroduces those Debussyian shadings of sound in works like Parables and Estampes for example. If this recording in question was the only Martinu recording you heard, then you would be doing yourself and only yourself an injustice in not pursuing his music further. Martinu, as I stated before, cannot be pigeon-holed. All I'm saying this is a disc worth acquiring whether one is new to Martinu or not.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 12, 2011, 08:11:21 AM
What a composer thinks of their own music never meant much to me. Hell, Lutoslawski hated Concerto for Orchestra. Lord knows why he did, but he did!

I don't think your criticism of Martinu's early music is a fair one. All composers have influences that they carry with them throughout their lives. Even late Martinu has influences: Stravinsky particularly and he even reintroduces those Debussyian shadings of sound in works like Parables and Estampes for example. If this recording in question was the only Martinu recording you heard, then you would be doing yourself and only yourself an injustice in not pursuing his music further. Martinu, as I stated before, cannot be pigeon-holed. All I'm saying this is a disc worth acquiring whether one is new to Martinu or not.

There's a difference between an assimilated, understood, maturely used influence and the undigested waiting-to-be-shed ones in a young composer, though...

BTW, I know that if this had been the first disc of Martinu I heard, I would have explored further. That's because I know that I have done this in other cases; it's because I'm an inveterate reader of liner notes and everything else, and I would have known that the disc told a very particular, non-representative part of the story. My concern, I suppose, is that maybe not everyone does this. I've seen many people here dismiss a composer on the basis of an unfortunate first listen, and it always makes me sad!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 12, 2011, 08:41:17 AM
I have found myself lately searching for as much chamber music of Martinu as possible. I really haven't come across a chamber piece of his I didn't enjoy.



Coincidentally, I just re-ordered this disc of the chamber music. It was one of the first Martinu discs I got, c. 12 years ago, and for some unaccountable reason I got rid of it. I remember it as being a very good survey of his chamber music.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 12, 2011, 09:13:32 AM
There's a difference between an assimilated, understood, maturely used influence and the undigested waiting-to-be-shed ones in a young composer, though...

BTW, I know that if this had been the first disc of Martinu I heard, I would have explored further. That's because I know that I have done this in other cases; it's because I'm an inveterate reader of liner notes and everything else, and I would have known that the disc told a very particular, non-representative part of the story. My concern, I suppose, is that maybe not everyone does this. I've seen many people here dismiss a composer on the basis of an unfortunate first listen, and it always makes me sad!

Well regardless of what another person thinks about this recording, I enjoy it for what it is: finely crafted compositions that have a nostalgic feeling and heart to them that I don't always hear in Martinu. I don't care what anybody else thinks about these works. I think they're wonderful and are definitely top-notch works that deserve to be heard and absorbed on their own merits.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 12, 2011, 09:17:59 AM
As for recommendations I'd add - the ones I always do, and others too. I only say them again because I didn't see them on your list.

The Hyperion twofer of chamber music



The Supraphon recording of the late chamber cantatas.



Thanks for the recommendations, Luke. By the way, no hard feelings from my past couple of posts. I respect your opinion. I can only hope you will do the same for mine.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on July 12, 2011, 10:27:56 AM
Thanks for the recommendations, Luke. By the way, no hard feelings from my past couple of posts. I respect your opinion. I can only hope you will do the same for mine.

Of course I do, and the sentiment is appreciated. I have no hard feelings whatsoever, and when I first posted I kew that this kind of to-and-fro between us would run for a post or two. The point is, as I hope I made clear, I like that disc a lot too; my only misgiving is about whether it is a good choice to recommend it to a newbie.

I also agree with what you say about them having a 'heart' which isn't always as on the surface in Martinu's work as it is here. I guess that is because, as I was hinting at, they haven't yet shed their 19th century heritage as much as his later works would. But though it is not a typical feature of his music, you are right that it is certainly a charming one and one of the pleasures of the disc.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 12, 2011, 11:15:32 AM
Of course I do, and the sentiment is appreciated. I have no hard feelings whatsoever, and when I first posted I kew that this kind of to-and-fro between us would run for a post or two. The point is, as I hope I made clear, I like that disc a lot too; my only misgiving is about whether it is a good choice to recommend it to a newbie.

I also agree with what you say about them having a 'heart' which isn't always as on the surface in Martinu's work as it is here. I guess that is because, as I was hinting at, they haven't yet shed their 19th century heritage as much as his later works would. But though it is not a typical feature of his music, you are right that it is certainly a charming one and one of the pleasures of the disc.

I understood your point loud and clear which is this is not mature Martinu. I knew this going into the recording myself, which I was already familiar with mature Martinu by this time anyway, so, yes, you're certainly right in this regard. But, like you, this doesn't keep me from enjoying the music as it is. I just finished listening to this recording a few moments ago:

(http://cdn.7static.com/static/img/sleeveart/00/009/033/0000903391_350.jpg)

I love all of these compositions on this disc. So much fun!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on July 12, 2011, 04:48:40 PM
I sent Greg (one of our resident Martinu fanatics) a PM last night and we both shared and compared collections last night, here is my current Martinu collection. Any suggestions of where to go next would be welcome:


Ah, Martinu recs...I feel like a kid in a candy store!

I'd say, without hesitation, go for his cello sonatas next. They're among my favorite of all Martinu.

I have this recording which is stellar (Is the image visible? Can't see it myself...):




Here it is:



(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51zjdL43-ML._SS500_.jpg)


Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 12, 2011, 05:04:42 PM
Ah, Martinu recs...I feel like a kid in a candy store!

I'd say, without hesitation, go for his cello sonatas next. They're among my favorite of all Martinu.

I have this recording which is stellar (Is the image visible? Can't see it myself...):




Here it is:



(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51zjdL43-ML._SS500_.jpg)

Thanks for the recommendations, Divertimentian. Have you heard any of his operas? I bought Julietta and The Greek Passion last night, so I look forward to hearing these.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on July 12, 2011, 05:30:36 PM
Have you heard any of his operas? I bought Julietta and The Greek Passion last night, so I look forward to hearing these.

Yes, I love his operas. I was going to rec some but I noticed you'd already picked up some recordings. Interestingly I've never heard The Greek Passion, but Julietta is at the top of the heap of Martinu recs. I'm hoping one day some company will give us a new, state-of-the-art recording of that piece (Julietta). The current one is in good sound but I'm itching for a recording with clear, rich dynamics to really hear the work to its fullest.

Someone already mentioned Ariane. It's a delight.

I also have these two opera sets - comprising four one act operas - which I think aren't so common anymore (which is sad):











Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 12, 2011, 05:37:38 PM
Yes, I love his operas. I was going to rec some but I noticed you'd already picked up some recordings. Interestingly I've never heard The Greek Passion, but Julietta is at the top of the heap of Martinu recs. I'm hoping one day some company will give us a new, state-of-the-art recording of that piece (Julietta). The current one is in good sound but I'm itching for a recording with clear, rich dynamics to really hear the work to its fullest.

Someone already mentioned Ariane. It's a delight.

I also have these two opera sets - comprising four one act operas - which I think aren't so common anymore (which is sad):









Yes, these recordings are rare and expensive, so I'll have to wait on some reissues. I was really hoping Mackerras would do Julietta seeing as he introduced a recording with three fragments from the opera and the suite, but that dream has sailed. Perhaps a conductor like, and I know I'm dreaming here, like Gergiev would take up the mantle? I'm quite surprised Belohlavek or Pesek hasn't made a recording of it yet. ??? Anyway, here's to dreaming...
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Lethevich on July 12, 2011, 05:41:43 PM
Julietta and Ariane definitely stand out for me. Martinů wrote a lot of operas, but as a corpus they are not as memorable as Janáček's. The Miracles of Mary (along with the Greek Passion) stand out as other worthies IMO - the former has a bit of everything, religious mysticism, all kinds of arrangements of dance, rustic and sublime moments wrapped up in a series of powerful vignettes. Not quite like Puccini's Il trittico, there are strands that bind all the seemingly unrelated scenes together into a high-concept sweep. It's very cool, but I can't explain it very well.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 12, 2011, 05:45:57 PM
Julietta and Ariane definitely stand out for me. Martinů wrote a lot of operas, but as a corpus they are not as memorable as Janáček's. The Miracles of Mary (along with the Greek Passion) stand out as other worthies IMO - the former has a bit of everything, religious mysticism, all kinds of arrangements of dance, rustic and sublime moments wrapped up in a series of powerful vignettes. Not quite like Puccini's Il trittico, there are strands that bind all the seemingly unrelated scenes together into a high-concept sweep. It's very cool, but I can't explain it very well.

Yes, The Miracles of Mary sounds quite interesting. It'll probably be my next purchase along with Ariane.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on July 12, 2011, 05:52:17 PM
I was really hoping Mackerras would do Julietta seeing as he introduced a recording with three fragments from the opera and the suite, but that dream has sailed. Perhaps a conductor like, and I know I'm dreaming here, like Gergiev would take up the mantle? I'm quite surprised Belohlavek or Pesek hasn't made a recording of it yet. ??? Anyway, here's to dreaming...

Yeah, I had wondered if Mackerras would record it complete but, well.......



Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 12, 2011, 05:53:04 PM
Yeah, I had wondered if Mackerras would record it complete but, well.......

It's a shame I tell ya, a crying shame... :'(
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: TheGSMoeller on July 12, 2011, 06:31:50 PM
Yes, buy this.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51S2jQ5NaUL._SS400_.jpg)

I love this disc, the ending aria is about 9 minutes long for Celina Lindsley, who portrays Ariane, and it is stunning.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 12, 2011, 07:09:27 PM
Yes, buy this.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51S2jQ5NaUL._SS400_.jpg)

I love this disc, the ending aria is about 9 minutes long for Celina Lindsley, who portrays Ariane, and it is stunning.

Trust me, Greg, I'm definitely going to buy it, but right now there are no good sellers on Amazon.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on July 14, 2011, 08:42:02 AM
I'm going to buy 'The Miracle of our Lady' NOW!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on July 14, 2011, 08:43:45 AM
Okay,that's done!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on July 14, 2011, 09:03:40 AM
I would like to point out that I'm not turning up my nose at you're suggestions. Quite frankly,I think I would buy every Martinu opera available on cd if I had the budget,but I have fond memories of listening to 'The Miracle of our Lady' on R3  some years ago and I've been saying I'm going to buy it for years so I think I should finally pull my finger out of my **@ and buy it!
'The Greek Passion' is marvellous. The recording I have is the original Supraphon tape set and I wonder whether I should inflict my brand new bargain Pioneer cassette deck on it. For some reason I went off Martinu for a couple of years,but this thread has got the Martinu bug going again. Incidentally,I find it interesting that allot of Welsh composers seem to have been inspired by Martinu. Or are they? Parts of orchestral scores by Mathias and Rhian Samuel for example,but maybe it's just my imagination.
I agree with MI about Julietta. I am personally very keen on those old Supraphon recordings,but the thought of what modern state of the art recording technology could do with those shimmering almost hallucinogenic textures really IS enticing.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: TheGSMoeller on July 14, 2011, 06:21:26 PM
These are two discs I always recommend, they are from the cheaper-priced label Arte-Nova Classica, but the quality of the playing is anything but. In fact I've had some luck with Arte-Nova of late, their catalog is huge and contain some top-notch performances. Anyway, here are the two Martinu's that I own from this label...





Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on July 15, 2011, 03:53:52 AM
I feel a mention should be made for Supraphons interesting.if somewhat eccentric,artwork. Keep the recommendations coming. This is very useful as Martinu was so prolific.
I suppose I have overrated 'The Miracle of our Lady'. It is a long time since I heard it & it is probably uneven;but I also remember some of it was very inspired & it DID 'stay with me' & now I've got the 'Martinu bug' again (not sure about that word) I have a need to hear it again. It is certainly an odd hybrid,but I DO think it deserves a mention & the eccentricity of the construction of piece is another reason,even if it isn't entirely successful,why Martinu,like Janacek, is such an interesting 'opera' (?) composer.
Incidentally,Supraphons reissue policy is nearly as annoying as emi's. I missed out on the Supraphon cd reissue of the (c 80's?) recording of Fibich's Sarka & years later I'm still waiting for that. The Benackova recording of 'The Bartered Bride' was another one. Unavailable for ages.
   By the way,talkng of emi. I managed to procure a relatively cheap cd set of Kienzl's 'Der Evangelimann' on ebay. Listening to this once popular opera reminds me of how some of the major record labels would pull out the stops for a rarity like this,years ago. A fantastic cast. Unimaginable now. Remember CBS's (or was it Sony,I must look) fabulous 'Schwanda'? In German,I know,but it's hard to imagine a better cast. And the late lamented,Lucia Popp,one of my all time favourite singers.  The only downside is I  now want to hear Kienzl's 'Don Quixote' (on cpo) now. More expense! Incidentally,uneven or not,'Der Evangelimann' (The Jelly Man!) is a fun if unsubtle romp,a bit like Hansel & Gretel in lederhosen. I will file it under guilty pleasures!
NB: Those Arte Nova recordings look like good VFM! I wonder what the performances are like though?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on July 18, 2011, 06:56:58 AM
'The Miracle of our Lady' landed today! Marvellous. At least cd 1 was ( I haven't had time to listen to the rest,yet). Can't see anything wrong with it,I'm afraid. I think the important thing with a work like this is to ignore operatic convention,don't worry about the construction of it,or the libretto and just let this wonderfully bizarre,hallucinatory eccentric hybrid drift past you're ear'oles.
Only trouble is,you want to hear more Martinu,and there's SO much (thank goodness,I suppose?).
Supraphon really DO need to sort out their EXTREMELY infuriating reissue policy,though. (They almost give emi a run for their money in that respect).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on July 21, 2011, 06:51:16 AM
I'm afraid I like cd 2,as well. Wonderful,mesmerising. I can't get enough of this. Apologies for disagreeing! I have also ordered the Jilek Supraphon recording of 'The excursions of Mr Broucek' because I feel the bizarre nature & atmosphere of the piece will be an appropriately odd 'companion' for the Martinu cycle in my 5 cd changer.
I did consider the newer recording,which I know has been praised & I have heard on the radio,but I fancied hearing the old Supraphon recording. Oh,and the price was VERY low!!!!

NB: Nearly posted a real howler. I typed the 'Sexcursions of Mr Broucek' by mistake.
      Luckily, I caught the blooper in time. (What's happening to me?!!!).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 24, 2011, 07:24:14 AM
heads up!

Now this is interesting. A brand new Martinu symphony cycle on CD, taken from the Belohlavek/BBCSO concerts last season:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/jul/24/martinu-six-symphonies-belohlavek-review
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on July 24, 2011, 08:20:39 AM
Good! I had noticed that somewhere else. I didn't hear the concerts I'm afraid. Reading this thread has re-ignited my enthusiasm. I may get the Neumann cycle later in the year too,for old times sake. It's not top of the list of recommendations list these days,but it was my introduction to this composer (as a teenager) and there's a sort of 'pioneering spirit' there,which I rather like.
The more Martinu cycles the better.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 24, 2011, 08:46:37 AM
Good! I had noticed that somewhere else. I didn't hear the concerts I'm afraid. Reading this thread has re-ignited my enthusiasm. I may get the Neumann cycle later in the year too,for old times sake. It's not top of the list of recommendations list these days,but it was my introduction to this composer (as a teenager) and there's a sort of 'pioneering spirit' there,which I rather like.
The more Martinu cycles the better.

I actually like Neumann's cycle the best truth be told. Neumann brings a more rhapsodic feel to the music than any other conductor plus you get the outstanding playing of the Czech Philharmonic, which are leaps and bounds ahead of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (under Thomson/Chandos) and the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra (under Jarvi/BIS).

Of course, Belohlavek is excellent in Martinu, but Neumann is equally as good I think.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on July 24, 2011, 09:53:13 AM
Thanks MI! So.it's not just me or nostalgia for lost youth? I remember playing the old Supraphon Lps years ago & someone said,(without any prompting from me) 'THAT'S a good orchestra'! I think he was right.
Not to mention that authentic czech sound.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 26, 2011, 02:19:22 PM
Thanks MI! So.it's not just me or nostalgia for lost youth? I remember playing the old Supraphon Lps years ago & someone said,(without any prompting from me) 'THAT'S a good orchestra'! I think he was right.
Not to mention that authentic czech sound.

You're welcome. Yes, I think you will enjoy Neumann's cycle. I remember buying this set for around $20.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on July 27, 2011, 06:36:30 AM
I have ordered the Piano Concerto's. While I did notice some mixed opinions on Musicweb,there was considerable enthusiasm elsewhere. Indeed, the infamous 'Hurwitz' regards them as 'astonishingly varied' and (3 & 4) some of the 'finest' of the 20th c!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 27, 2011, 06:56:51 AM
I have ordered the Piano Concerto's. While I did notice some mixed opinions on Musicweb,there was considerable enthusiasm elsewhere. Indeed, the infamous 'Hurwitz' regards them as 'astonishingly varied' and (3 & 4) some of the 'finest' of the 20th c!

Which recordings of the piano concertos did you buy? Naxos or Supraphon? I only have one set and it's with Belohlavek conducting the CzPO on Supraphon.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on July 27, 2011, 07:02:08 AM
The Supraphon. I like their recordings. (But,obviously,they're not ALWAYS the best).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 27, 2011, 07:59:49 AM
I have ordered the Piano Concerto's. While I did notice some mixed opinions on Musicweb,there was considerable enthusiasm elsewhere. Indeed, the infamous 'Hurwitz' regards them as 'astonishingly varied' and (3 & 4) some of the 'finest' of the 20th c!

The 4th PC ("Incantations") is generally regarded by Martinu fans as one of his very best concerti. The others get more mixed views. I personally like the 3rd quite a lot, but it often comes in for criticism - Martinu writing in a quasi-Romantic, Brahmsian vein that's not really natural for him.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: karlhenning on July 27, 2011, 08:02:56 AM
Hmmm. He worked so well in such a broad range of style:  How do we determine which (if any) of those styles is "not really natural for him"?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on July 27, 2011, 09:19:45 AM
Yes indeed,a very good question,if you ask me!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on July 27, 2011, 05:05:42 PM
Hmmm. He worked so well in such a broad range of style:  How do we determine which (if any) of those styles is "not really natural for him"?

Good point, Karl. I personally like all of his piano concerti. I like the ones for violin and cello as well. Great music.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on August 01, 2011, 01:02:32 PM
I got the 2 cd set of the Piano Concerto's. I wasn't too sure at first,but after a few listens I'm pretty hooked. While it's not the most tuneful music I've ever heard,it's very lyrical and Martinu's use of the piano really draws you in. A wonderful composer.
Spalicek next!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on August 01, 2011, 03:20:18 PM
I got the 2 cd set of the Piano Concerto's. I wasn't too sure at first,but after a few listens I'm pretty hooked. While it's not the most tuneful music I've ever heard,it's very lyrical and Martinu's use of the piano really draws you in. A wonderful composer.
Spalicek next!

I'm glad you enjoying the set. No, they're not the most tuneful piano concertos, but Martinu's lyricism as you say makes up for it.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on August 02, 2011, 03:56:46 AM
His orchestration is so intricate. There's a bach like complexity at times,yet the music is so lyrical and,as has been said before,life affirming.
I need to listen to cd 2 a little more & I CAN see what you mean about Martinu trying to write in a 'Brahmsian vein'. It's a bit like Martinu being poured into some kind of metaphorical mould. It gets in the way of his usual warmth a little. You get the feeling the real Martinu's just bursting to find a way out. But it's still very enjoyable.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on September 03, 2011, 12:48:18 AM
Now this is interesting. A brand new Martinu symphony cycle on CD, taken from the Belohlavek/BBCSO concerts last season:

Reviews of this set have been great so far. I may have to invest. Gramophone's verdict:

"In short, Bělohlávek and the BBC SO are now my top recommendation for the Martinů symphonies"

http://gramophone.co.uk/review/martin%C5%AF-symphonies-nos-1-6
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on September 03, 2011, 02:04:01 AM
I still think this sort of thing is somewhat subjective. Personally,I think the underrated Neumann,and I hasten to add,one of my favourite conductors,is unbeatable for sheer excitement and that raw Czech sound. Marvellous. I recently bought his set of Dvorak's Symphonic poems and Mackerras,Harnoncourt,notwithstanding,his interpretations have gone straight to the top of the pile! In a word,'Wow!'
With all due respect!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Lisztianwagner on December 27, 2011, 01:47:52 PM
I've recently discovered Martinů's music after listening to the Piano Concertos No.4 & 5; his works sound very beautiful, very impressive...simple but with a highly elegant virtuosity at the same time.
I would definitely like to get to know his music better; any suggestion about the recordings of the Symphonies and the Piano Concertos?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on December 27, 2011, 03:17:12 PM
I've recently discovered Martinů's music after listening to the Piano Concertos No.4 & 5; his works sound very beautiful, very impressive...simple but with a highly elegant virtuosity at the same time.
I would definitely like to get to know his music better; any suggestion about the recordings of the Symphonies and the Piano Concertos?

Martinu is a great composer, but a very uneven one because he composed so much music. For the symphonies, IMHO it's hard to beat Neumann:

(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4081/4742235646_5880e51305.jpg)

Unfortunately, for the Piano Concertos there's not much to choose from, but this set will the fit the bill rather nicely:

(http://www.tradebit.com/usr/mp3-album/pub/9002/534/534634/53463463.jpg)

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on December 27, 2011, 03:54:22 PM
I love those wierd cover designs on the Supraphon recordings of the symphonies. I remember seeing the Neumann LPs in Haverfordwest library,all those years ago,with those wierd looking heads & thinking 'I wonder what this music is like?' I wasn't disappointed. Later on when I bought the box set of the LPs I was disappointed by the plain sleeve design. Not that it should have mattered,of course;but the sleeve designs were eye catching & seemed to suit Martinu's,often,almost hallucinatory orchestral 'colours'. Also,in the context of a public library setting,the sleeve designs stood out from the crowd & if,like me,you hadn't heard of Martinu before,they were probably a quite effective way of 'marketing' them! In my case,they certainly helped grab another Martinu admirer......and customer (I bought my boxed set a little later &,thirty odd years later, I STILL admire Martinu AND Neumann,as a conductor!)
 
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on December 27, 2011, 04:03:17 PM
I love those wierd cover designs on the Supraphon recordings of the symphonies. I remember seeing the Neumann LPs in Haverfordwest library,all those years ago,with those wierd looking heads & thinking 'I wonder what this music is like?' I wasn't disappointed. Later on when I bought the box set of the LPs I was disappointed by the plain sleeve design. Not that it should have mattered,of course;but the sleeve designs were eye catching & seemed to suit Martinu's,often,almost hallucinatory orchestral 'colours'. Also,in the context of a public library setting,the sleeve designs stood out from the crowd & if,like me,you hadn't heard of Martinu before,they were probably a quite effective way of 'marketing' them! In my case,they certainly helped grab another Martinu admirer......and customer (I bought my boxed set a little later &,thirty odd years later, I STILL admire Martinu AND Neumann,as a conductor!)
 

Well there you go! :) My first set of Martinu symphonies was with Bryden Thomson. Overall, it's a pretty good set, but nothing like Neumann's. I think Neumann had the true spirit of these works in his blood. He understood that these were not Romantic symphonies at all, which Thomson over-romanticized the music IMHO. Neumann kept true to the music's lyricism and understood how to navigate through the music and how to give the music that Czech bite when the music called for it. It also doesn't hurt to have the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra at your fingertips either. Who better to understand Martinu than a Czech conductor with a Czech orchestra?

Anyway, Belohlavek has a new set of Martinu symphonies out with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, which I have bought, but haven't listened to yet. I'm afraid of being disappointed, because I know that the Neumann set is just so extraordinary. Ah, well I suppose I should give at least the first symphony a spin some time soon.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on December 27, 2011, 04:27:17 PM
Why not? The more interpretations of these marvellous & still underrated (in the concert hall) symphonies,the better! As to Bryden Thomson. He's actually another favourite conductor;but while I admire his enterprise & enthusiasm in recording an integral cycle,I think he  was better in Bax and Nielsen. But his cycle is certainly well worth having.
Nice to see Supraphon brought back those wierd heads!!!!!


Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on December 27, 2011, 04:56:39 PM
Why not? The more interpretations of these marvellous & still underrated (in the concert hall) symphonies,the better! As to Bryden Thomson. He's actually another favourite conductor;but while I admire his enterprise & enthusiasm in recording an integral cycle,I think he  was better in Bax and Nielsen. But his cycle is certainly well worth having.
Nice to see Supraphon brought back those wierd heads!!!!!

I guess you're right. It's almost a luxury that there are many Martinu symphony cycles available: Neumann, Thomson, Jarvi, Belohlavek, Fagen, and Valek.

For me, I think Thomson is one of the greatest RVW conductors I've heard. His cycle of symphonies along with various concerti and orchestral works are just outstanding. Thomson was just a fantastic conductor and he was such a strong advocate for British music. We have to thank him for bringing so much lesser known music to the public's attention. Outside of his RVW cycle, I really enjoyed his Ireland, Walton, Elgar, and Arnold recordings too. I haven't heard his Nielsen performances yet, but maybe some day.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on December 27, 2011, 06:32:07 PM
Agreed,sadly missed,vastly underrated (except here!),up there with the best  & if you like Bax,like me,I think it's awful that Chandos have deleted his cycle in favour of Handley's magnificent,but somewhat overrated cycle.....shame on them! *(I really DO prefer Thomson's approach & I know his Bax cycle has some other admirers here).
His Nielsen is superb!
But enough......,after all,this is a Martinu thread! ;D ;D

*although,in all fairness,they ARE available as downloads! But still!!! >:(
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on December 27, 2011, 10:09:17 PM
Anyway, Belohlavek has a new set of Martinu symphonies out with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, which I have bought, but haven't listened to yet.

Hey, me too! But reviews have been almost uniformly outstanding. I'm saving them for the weekend; will try to post a review.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on December 28, 2011, 01:19:53 AM
I guess you're right. It's almost a luxury that there are many Martinu symphony cycles available: Neumann, Thomson, Jarvi, Belohlavek, Fagen, and Valek.

For me, I think Thomson is one of the greatest RVW conductors I've heard. His cycle of symphonies along with various concerti and orchestral works are just outstanding. Thomson was just a fantastic conductor and he was such a strong advocate for British music. We have to thank him for bringing so much lesser known music to the public's attention. Outside of his RVW cycle, I really enjoyed his Ireland, Walton, Elgar, and Arnold recordings too. I haven't heard his Nielsen performances yet, but maybe some day.

Agree about the Martinu, Bax and VW cycle - very underrated.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Lisztianwagner on December 28, 2011, 03:18:47 AM
Martinu is a great composer, but a very uneven one because he composed so much music. For the symphonies, IMHO it's hard to beat Neumann:

(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4081/4742235646_5880e51305.jpg)

Unfortunately, for the Piano Concertos there's not much to choose from, but this set will the fit the bill rather nicely:

(http://www.tradebit.com/usr/mp3-album/pub/9002/534/534634/53463463.jpg)

Those recordings sound quite good, I will certainly have a look at them, thank you John.  :)
I know there's also a version of the symphonies by Jarvi & Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, which seems to be brilliant as well; I think I may take both them into account.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on December 28, 2011, 07:53:42 AM
Agreed,sadly missed,vastly underrated (except here!),up there with the best  & if you like Bax,like me,I think it's awful that Chandos have deleted his cycle in favour of Handley's magnificent,but somewhat overrated cycle.....shame on them! *(I really DO prefer Thomson's approach & I know his Bax cycle has some other admirers here).
His Nielsen is superb!
But enough......,after all,this is a Martinu thread! ;D ;D

*although,in all fairness,they ARE available as downloads! But still!!! >:(

Yeah, to me, it makes no sense that Chandos deleted the Thomson/Bax symphony cycle. I was pretty lucky a couple of years I bought one used.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on December 28, 2011, 07:56:50 AM
Those recordings sound quite good, I will certainly have a look at them, thank you John.  :)
I know there's also a version of the symphonies by Jarvi & Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, which seems to be brilliant as well; I think I may take both them into account.

You're welcome, Ilaria. I own every Martinu symphony cycle available. So far Neumann comes out clearly in the lead. I think his pacing, attention to the dynamics of the music, and just the emotion he puts into the music makes his set an essential one for me. The Jarvi is good, but the Neumann is better and the Czech Philharmonic are better suited, IMHO, for this music than the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra. Neumann has a long history with Czech music and I think that sense of history shows in these performances. He clearly understood Martinu's idiom better than most.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Lisztianwagner on December 28, 2011, 09:10:36 AM
You're welcome, Ilaria. I own every Martinu symphony cycle available. So far Neumann comes out clearly in the lead. I think his pacing, attention to the dynamics of the music, and just the emotion he puts into the music makes his set an essential one for me. The Jarvi is good, but the Neumann is better and the Czech Philharmonic are better suited, IMHO, for this music than the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra. Neumann has a long history with Czech music and I think that sense of history shows in these performances. He clearly understood Martinu's idiom better than most.

Sounds great :) In this case I will certainly turn my attention to Neumann's cycle.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on December 31, 2011, 03:23:02 AM
Review, as promised: Symphonies 1-3

I've now listened to the first 3 symphonies in the new Belohlavek/BBCSO cycle, on Onyx.

So far, there is one particular area where this set stands out above other Martinu recordings I've heard. There is a wealth of detail to be heard that often gets submerged due to poor recording, mushy playing, or other factors. While I don't have scores handy to refer to, it sounds like all of what Martinu wrote is coming through here. It's a bit X-ray-like; I'm hearing details I didn't know were there. In particular, the percussion and characteristic orchestral piano register very sharply.

All the performances are live, and I think they benefit from that. They're a bit tighter and more dramatic than I've heard from Belohlavek's other recordings. The 3rd Symphony, the most intense of the first 3, certainly benefits from this; in particular, its opening movement is much more gripping than in Belohlavek's generally admirable CzPO recording. The BBCSO plays very well throughout, and it's great to hear a top-flight non-Czech orchestra tackle these works.

On the other hand, the performances aren't perfect. The first movement of the 1st Symphony could use a bit more energy, and there are certain matters of articulation and atmosphere that I like to hear done differently. So far, and based on only a first hearing, I think this set is more a supplement for existing recordings than a replacement for them. But for nothing else than the amount of detail that comes through and the added intensity of live performance, I can recommend this set highly.

On to 4-6 soon.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on January 02, 2012, 06:49:38 AM
Review, continued: Symphonies 4-6

OK, I've heard the whole set now.

No surprises from the 4th Symphony: it's very like Belohlavek's previous conception of this piece, from his CzPO recording of a few years ago. That's a superb performance, and so is this one, with the added clarity of detail and live-concert vigor I noted above. In particular, the finale really sizzles.

The 5th is the strangest performance in the set. It's generally very fast, and comes out sounding neo-classical, rather like Hindemith. Very different from the Ancerl recording which is my reference. It'll take me a while to digest this one; I can't really say if I like it yet. But the conception is interesting for sure.

The 6th is quite wonderful, bursting with surreality and bringing out all the dreamlike, kaleidoscopic, slightly creepy feel of the piece. The many layers of detail really tell in this complex, multi-layered score.

Overall, I think the standout performances in this set are 3 and 6. But the whole cycle can be recommended, even if you've already got versions of the Martinu symphonies you're happy with. These are good enough and different enough to justify the investment.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: not edward on January 02, 2012, 07:59:14 AM
Thanks for the comments on the BBCSO/Belohlavek. Did you have his CzPO 5th and 6th?

I hope Supraphon does still complete his CzPO cycle--1 & 2 are the symphonies I've been waiting to hear a competitive alternative to the admirable Neumann in.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on January 02, 2012, 09:03:16 AM
Thanks for the comments on the BBCSO/Belohlavek. Did you have his CzPO 5th and 6th?

Haven't heard that one. I only saw one or two reviews of it, and they weren't as enthusiastic as for the 3/4.

Quote
a competitive alternative to the admirable Neumann in.

I think if Neumann is a reference cycle for someone, they should look into this new cycle, because it's like an opposite but equally valid view of the music. Belohlavek is more percussive, driven, and modernistic whereas Neumann is more leisurely and Dvorak-like. That's my overall impression, anyway.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on January 02, 2012, 10:56:28 AM
Bought myself the Jarvi cycle on Brilliant. Have played No 4 (my favourite) and I really liked the slower than usual performance which gave more gravitas in some sections.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: eyeresist on February 22, 2012, 06:04:49 PM

I think it's nearly time for me to buy my first set of Martinu's symphonies. I've been comparing samples at Amazon, and have come down to a choice between Belohlavek's BBC set and the Valek cycle. They have the best sound, and the interpretations seem not too disimilar, though the orchestral balances of the recordings do seem to differ. Can anyone compare the virtues of these two?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on February 23, 2012, 12:39:37 AM
Not having heard the Valek I can't compare them. However, I did notice that reviews and feedback on Valek's set were pretty negative overall, while reviews for Belohlavek were overwhelmingly positive.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: eyeresist on February 23, 2012, 12:52:57 AM

I did read Hurwitz's dump on Valek, but he was so over-the-top that it's hard to take him seriously.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Drasko on February 23, 2012, 12:53:36 AM
Sound on Valek set isn't ideal, but no two people yet agreed why. To me sounds close, dry with somewhat recessed brass. Performances are mixed, first is wonderful, the fourth is boring.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: not edward on February 23, 2012, 06:24:17 AM
the fourth is boring
Bloody hell. Managing that is quite an achievement. ;)

Haven't heard either set (have 3-6 in Belohlavek's incomplete Supraphon set with the Czech Philh: good stuff for sure).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on February 23, 2012, 07:17:09 AM
I think it's nearly time for me to buy my first set of Martinu's symphonies. I've been comparing samples at Amazon, and have come down to a choice between Belohlavek's BBC set and the Valek cycle. They have the best sound, and the interpretations seem not too disimilar, though the orchestral balances of the recordings do seem to differ. Can anyone compare the virtues of these two?

Neumann/CzPO on Supraphon is the best set I've heard IMHO. Next to it, would be Thomson/RSNO on Chandos. I own all of the Martinu symphony sets and the Valek is the weakest of the lot.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: eyeresist on February 23, 2012, 06:09:00 PM
Apart from Hurwitz's review, I can only find ONE review of Valek's set online:

Prior to this 2008 release, Vladimir Válek had not always delivered particularly exciting performances. His 1980 disc of Suk's Fairy Tale and Praga was thick and dull, while his 1994 disc of Fibich's overtures and symphonic poems was bland and turgid. But his 2008 set of Martinu's six symphonies must stand with the most convincing complete cycles of the works. These performances have the luminous colors, buoyant tempos, and tensile strength the music requires, but more significantly, they have a depth and maturity that Válek's earlier interpretations often lacked. His Fifth's Larghetto has tremendous emotional power, while the tragic sorrow of his Third's central Largo and the blissful joy of his Sixth's closing Lento have rarely been so persuasively expressed. The Prague Radio Symphony is a tight, responsive ensemble that gives Válek the alert and energetic playing he asks for, and Supraphon's wide-ranging digital sound captures them in a clear, natural acoustic. While there have been great recordings of individual symphonies from Karel Ancerl and Jirí Belohlávek and great complete cycles from Bryden Thomson and Arthur Fagen, this cycle should be on the short list for anyone interested in Martinu's symphonies. ~ James Leonard, Rovi

http://entertainment.sears.com/martinu-prague-radio-sym-orch-valek-martin-symphonies-nos-1-6/099925394028#!?tabnum=1
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Lethevich on February 23, 2012, 07:39:24 PM
Sound on Valek set isn't ideal, but no two people yet agreed why. To me sounds close, dry with somewhat recessed brass.

Hmm, this sounds curiously like his Dvořák cycle - the music somehow came across as bland, but hard to pin down why.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Luke on February 23, 2012, 10:49:16 PM
Apart from Hurwitz's review, I can only find ONE review of Valek's set online:

Prior to this 2008 release, Vladimir Válek had not always delivered particularly exciting performances. His 1980 disc of Suk's Fairy Tale and Praga was thick and dull, while his 1994 disc of Fibich's overtures and symphonic poems was bland and turgid. But his 2008 set of Martinu's six symphonies must stand with the most convincing complete cycles of the works. These performances have the luminous colors, buoyant tempos, and tensile strength the music requires, but more significantly, they have a depth and maturity that Válek's earlier interpretations often lacked. His Fifth's Larghetto has tremendous emotional power, while the tragic sorrow of his Third's central Largo and the blissful joy of his Sixth's closing Lento have rarely been so persuasively expressed. The Prague Radio Symphony is a tight, responsive ensemble that gives Válek the alert and energetic playing he asks for, and Supraphon's wide-ranging digital sound captures them in a clear, natural acoustic. While there have been great recordings of individual symphonies from Karel Ancerl and Jirí Belohlávek
and great complete cycles from Bryden Thomson and Arthur Fagen, this cycle should be on the short list for anyone interested in Martinu's symphonies. ~ James Leonard, Rovi

http://entertainment.sears.com/martinu-prague-radio-sym-orch-valek-martin-symphonies-nos-1-6/099925394028#!?tabnum=1


The bit I highlighted tells me what I need to know about the value of this reviewer's opinions on Martinu symphonies - the Fagen set is a total travesty, a horrible, horrible joke in every way.

It's simple really - for a great Martinu symphony set, go for Neumann. For a single disc of Martinu, if you've never heard any before, go for the disc that has AFAIK converted more to the cause than any other - the Turnovsky 4th, with the Tre Ricercare  (there was a long period in my life when practically every person I talked with about Martinu turned out to have heard this disc first, and have fallen in love immediately; that was the case with me too).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on February 23, 2012, 10:58:15 PM
It's simple really - for a great Martinu symphony set, go for Neumann.

Which I already warmly recommended. Good to see somebody likes the Neumann as much as I do. 8)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: eyeresist on February 23, 2012, 10:58:28 PM
The bit I highlighted tells me what I need to know about the value of this reviewer's opinions on Martinu symphonies - the Fagen set is a total travesty, a horrible, horrible joke in every way.

Oddly, Hurwitz lambasted Valek but praised Fagen's set too, calling it a "sleeper".
 
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on February 23, 2012, 11:02:03 PM
Oddly, Hurwitz lambasted Valek but praised Fagen's set too, calling it a "sleeper".

I never bothered with Fagen's set because of just how negative all the reviews were and Luke only reaffirmed this for me. 8)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on February 23, 2012, 11:03:31 PM
The bit I highlighted tells me what I need to know about the value of this reviewer's opinions on Martinu symphonies - the Fagen set is a total travesty, a horrible, horrible joke in every way.

I've read some extreme opinions on Fagen. A lot of people trash it, condemning it to the 9th Circle of Hell of Recordings, from which it should never be allowed to emerge again, lest it poison an entire generation against Martinu. Others rather like it; and to my surprise, Hurwitz was full of praise for it recently (in his Belohlavek review), which is weird, because his initial response to it was rather cool.

Quote
It's simple really - for a great Martinu symphony set, go for Neumann.

While I like Neumann a lot, his is not the only or even the preferred approach. It depends what you're looking for. To expand on my brief comment above, Neumann presents Martinu as a successor of Dvorak: romantic, somewhat folksy, fairly relaxed overall, a bit soft-edged at times. If you want to hear the snap of the rhythm, and the bite of piano and percussion which forms part of Martinu's unique soundworld, you're not going to hear much of it from Neumann. There are important percussion parts (for instance, in the scherzo of the 4th) that I didn't even know existed until I heard performances other than Neumann's.

If you want a more modernist, neo-classical Martinu, linking him to the likes of Stravinsky and Janacek, I recommend the new Belohlavek (see my review on the previous page). What the hell, get both Belohlavek and Neumann and you'll have the best of both worlds.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: eyeresist on February 23, 2012, 11:08:44 PM
To expand on my brief comment above, Neumann presents Martinu as a successor of Dvorak: romantic, somewhat folksy, fairly relaxed overall, a bit soft-edged at times. If you want to hear the snap of the rhythm, and the bite of piano and percussion which forms part of Martinu's unique soundworld, you're not going to hear much of it from Neumann. There are important percussion parts (for instance, in the scherzo of the 4th) that I didn't even know existed until I heard performances other than Neumann's.

Yes, from what I've heard of Martinu, his music really needs the clearest and most detailed sound. I plan to order the Belohlavek set in a week or two.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on May 06, 2012, 08:52:45 PM
I'm starting to get bit by the Martinu bug again, which, if I remember correctly, I went through a huge Martinu phase right around the time I joined this forum. I just love his music and he was one of those composers like so many I've encountered where their music didn't make much of an impression on me at first but the more I listened, the more I liked what I heard.

I own five Martinu symphony cycles and I've praised Neumann's cycle here to high heaven, but I do want to say I enjoy Bryden Thomson's cycle a lot as well. Jarvi's is quite good too, but I think Neumann and Thomson convinced me the most of these symphonies. Thomson's is more driven while Neumann's is more texturally detailed. Many have said with Martinu you want that rhythmic punch because of the all the syncopations in these symphonies, but you also don't want to loose detail either. His harmony is lush while his rhythms are lean. It's certainly a fascinating sound.

Edit: I thought I would never say this but I'm preferring Thomson's high energy to Neumann's more textural approach now. There's something about Thomson's performances that just seem like sunlight bursting out of the clouds to me. His approach may not be to everyone's liking, but Martinu's music needs this kind of rhythmic edge that Neumann's simply does not have. You can't even hear the piano in the second movement of Neumann's 4th! How frustrating! Anyway, I do like Neumann but Thomson's cycle is sounding better and better to me. This was my first Martinu symphony cycle too, but I've heard Neumann's and Jarvi's cycles many, many times. I have yet to hear the new Belohlavek cycle (on Onyx) which I seriously need to remedy.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Catison on May 07, 2012, 01:47:17 AM
I agree with you Mirror, except for the 6th, which seems to be played oppositely between Thomson and Neumann.  Neumann is rhythmically aggressive while Thomson is more moody.  I like the Neumann 6th better.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on May 07, 2012, 06:04:33 AM
I agree with you Mirror, except for the 6th, which seems to be played oppositely between Thomson and Neumann.  Neumann is rhythmically aggressive while Thomson is more moody.  I like the Neumann 6th better.

You're probably right, Catison. I haven't done any comparisons in awhile, but I was pretty disappointed in Neumann's 4th, especially since I couldn't hear the piano at all, which is a key part to that second movement's.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on May 07, 2012, 06:07:34 AM
You're probably right, Catison. I haven't done any comparisons in awhile, but I was pretty disappointed in Neumann's 4th, especially since I couldn't hear the piano at all, which is a key part to that second movement's.

That's the downside of Neumann's cycle: it's kind of soft-edged, and a lot of details get drowned in the rather distant, resonant recording. For the percussive side of Martinu, I haven't heard better than the new Belohlavek.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on May 07, 2012, 06:13:14 AM
That's the downside of Neumann's cycle: it's kind of soft-edged, and a lot of details get drowned in the rather distant, resonant recording. For the percussive side of Martinu, I haven't heard better than the new Belohlavek.

I heard Belohlavek's new cycle is kind of dry sonically. I have yet to hear it, but this kind doesn't sit too well with me.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on May 07, 2012, 06:36:04 AM
Does anyone have that EMI 2cd with the old Hickox/Virgin cd coupled with Kubelik's 4th?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on May 07, 2012, 06:50:38 AM
Does anyone have that EMI 2cd with the old Hickox/Virgin cd coupled with Kubelik's 4th?

Nope, I've purposely stayed away from for fear of disappointment.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on May 07, 2012, 07:14:19 AM
Does anyone have that EMI 2cd with the old Hickox/Virgin cd coupled with Kubelik's 4th?

No, but I've got the Hickox CD coupled with something else. Are you interested in one, the other, or both?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: not edward on May 07, 2012, 09:00:06 AM
No, but I've got the Hickox CD coupled with something else. Are you interested in one, the other, or both?
I have heard the Kubelik, and found it rather underwhelming. I don't think it adds anything to the work that you wouldn't get from Turnovsky, Neumann and Belohlavek, which makes it superfluous in my eyes.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on May 07, 2012, 09:25:37 AM
Which I already warmly recommended. Good to see somebody likes the Neumann as much as I do. 8)
And me! ;D
I like his underrated recordings of the Dvorak Symphonic poems,too;but that's for another thread!
 Of course,like allot of other people in my age group :o,the Neumann cycle was my introduction to these wonders! I still have fond memories of 'discovering' those Supraphon Lps,with those wierd heads (on the sleeves),in Haverfordwest library & thinking.'Hm! I think I'll borrow this!' (You were only allowed two at a time,of course).
  Great to see Supraphon have revived the wierd heads! :o ;D Oh,the nostalgia!!!! :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on May 07, 2012, 10:22:28 AM
And me! ;D
I like his underrated recordings of the Dvorak Symphonic poems,too;but that's for another thread!
 Of course,like allot of other people in my age group :o,the Neumann cycle was my introduction to these wonders! I still have fond memories of 'discovering' those Supraphon Lps,with those wierd heads (on the sleeves),in Haverfordwest library & thinking.'Hm! I think I'll borrow this!' (You were only allowed two at a time,of course).
  Great to see Supraphon have revived the wierd heads! :o ;D Oh,the nostalgia!!!! :)

Yeah, Neumann's Martinu recordings (including the ones of the concerti) are all uniformly great. Good to see another admirer of his approach to this music.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on May 07, 2012, 10:22:52 AM
Caught up in the fever of the Weird Head Revival . . . I've found the Neumann set at a good price . . . .
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on May 07, 2012, 10:24:42 AM
Yeah, Neumann's Martinu recordings (including the ones of the concerti) are all uniformly great.

But . . .

. . . I was pretty disappointed in Neumann's 4th.

I perceive a disharmony here . . . .
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on May 07, 2012, 10:33:42 AM
But . . .

I perceive a disharmony here . . . .

Yes, but I did a side-by-side comparison last night of Neumann's 4th and Thomson's 4th. Thomson's won. Opinions can change, Karl.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on May 07, 2012, 10:34:47 AM
Caught up in the fever of the Weird Head Revival . . . I've found the Neumann set at a good price . . . .

Excellent, Karl. Which Martinu symphony sets have you heard/own?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on May 07, 2012, 01:35:01 PM
(http://img856.imageshack.us/img856/3774/115009844.jpg)
By dinasman (http://profile.imageshack.us/user/dinasman) at 2012-05-07

Take me to you're record player,Earthman!
Wierd heads at Haverfordwest library,Pembrokeshire c1977/78.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on May 07, 2012, 01:37:07 PM
(http://img856.imageshack.us/img856/3774/115009844.jpg)
By dinasman (http://profile.imageshack.us/user/dinasman) at 2012-05-07

Take me to you're record player,Earthman!
Wierd heads at Haverfordwest library,Pembrokeshire c1977/78.

What's the deal with those weird heads anyway?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Scion7 on May 07, 2012, 01:39:43 PM
Just one of those great Supraphon covers w/noisy LP vinyl pressings inside - argh - but the performances that company almost always had made up for the commie vinyl pressing plant.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on May 07, 2012, 01:41:59 PM
Just one of those great Supraphon covers w/noisy LP vinyl pressings inside - argh - but the performances that company almost always had made up for the commie vinyl pressing plant.

Thankfully, the CD era has been kind to Martinu. :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Scion7 on May 07, 2012, 01:46:23 PM
(http://s14.postimage.org/ul8arx0k1/Suk_Neumann_MARINU_Violin_Concertos.jpg)

But they don't repro the original LP covers - let alone get them at the original size.  This is my edition of the Suk/Neumann violin concertos.
Martinu and Suk knew each other pretty well.  As usual, Suk's superlative playing is a joy to hear.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on May 07, 2012, 02:00:29 PM
What's the deal with those weird heads anyway?
Sorry,MI! I just got a bit carried away. Apart from personal nostalgia,the point is,the design grabbed my teenage attention & I took the Lps out of the library! Curiously,and by sheer coincidence,the space-y,Supraphon sleeve designs coincided with a flurry of ufo & spaceman sightings in our local newspapers. They even published two books about it,at the time ('The Broad Haven triangle')
Not that I'm 'into' that sort of thing,of course! ;D
  And yes,the LP pressings were a bit 'swishy/noisy',but the exciting performances won through!



Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on May 07, 2012, 02:09:09 PM
Sorry,MI! I just got a bit carried away. Apart from personal nostalgia,the point is,the design grabbed my teenage attention & I took the Lps out of the library! Curiously,and by sheer coincidence,the space-y,Supraphon sleeve designs coincided with a flurry of ufo & spaceman sightings in our local newspapers. They even published two books about it,at the time ('The Broad Haven triangle')
Not that I'm 'into' that sort of thing,of course! ;D
  And yes,the LP pressings were a bit 'swishy/noisy',but the exciting performances won through!

Ah yes, the attractions of youth. ;) :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on May 07, 2012, 02:09:46 PM
(http://s14.postimage.org/ul8arx0k1/Suk_Neumann_MARINU_Violin_Concertos.jpg)

But they don't repro the original LP covers - let alone get them at the original size.  This is my edition of the Suk/Neumann violin concertos.
Martinu and Suk knew each other pretty well.  As usual, Suk's superlative playing is a joy to hear.

That's a great recording IMHO. I think I'll listen to it tonight.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Drasko on May 07, 2012, 02:45:24 PM
(http://img856.imageshack.us/img856/3774/115009844.jpg)
By dinasman (http://profile.imageshack.us/user/dinasman) at 2012-05-07

Take me to you're record player,Earthman!
Wierd heads at Haverfordwest library,Pembrokeshire c1977/78.

Supraphon re-used that cover in CD era, but for different recording: Neumann's digital remake of 3rd and 6th.

(http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/pictures/l/03/34/COCO-70707.jpg)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on May 07, 2012, 02:52:24 PM
Re-cycled for the remake! They must have liked it. Are the newer recordings any good?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Drasko on May 07, 2012, 02:53:46 PM
Re-cycled for the remake! They must have liked it. Are the newer recordings any good?

I prefer them to older ones.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)-the 2nd violin concerto commission
Post by: Scion7 on May 08, 2012, 02:13:48 AM
             click image to enlarge
(http://s16.postimage.org/uuj0bqv5x/Elman.jpg)

The Violin Concerto No 2 was commissioned by Mishca Elman (1891–1967), a famous American violinist of Ukrainian origin. The work’s main characteristics recall the qualities of Elman’s playing, notably his unique sound, his preference for noble and elegant melodies, his exceptional feeling for the sonority of his instrument, his love of slow tempos, and his rich use of rubato and portamento.

      from the New Grove:

(b Talnoye, 20 Jan 1891; d New York, 5 April 1967). American violinist of Russian birth. He studied in Odessa with A. Fiedemann (1897–1902), then he was discovered by Auer, who taught him at the St Petersburg Conservatory (1903–4). Elman's meteoric career began in Berlin on 14 October 1904; sensational débuts in London (21 March 1905) and in New York (10 December 1908) followed, and he quickly established himself as one of the great violinists. He settled in the USA in 1911 and became a citizen in 1923, but his tours took him around the world. In 1926 he founded the Elman String Quartet. During the 1936–7 season he presented five concerts at New York's Carnegie Hall, ‘The Development of Violin Literature’, in which he played more than 15 concertos. Martinu composed his concerto for Elman, who gave its first performance in 1944. Elman's popularity was enhanced by his gramophone records, of which more than two million were sold.
Elman's most glorious attribute was his rich, sensuous and infinitely expressive tone, which became legendary. His temperament was fiery and passionate, and there was a pulsating vitality in his playing. His improvisational style was best suited to the Romantic repertory, but with maturity his exuberance became tempered. His technique was reliable without being a dominant factor in his success. He composed a few short pieces, and made many arrangements. A Mischa Elman Chair for Violin Studies was established at the Manhattan School of Music in 1974 by Elman's widow, Helen Elman.

     from AllMusic Guide:

Elman was the second prodigy pupil of Leopold Auer (after Efrem Zimbalist) to become internationally famous before adolescence. Their Hungarian-born teacher—a student of Joachim and subsequent mentor of Toscha Seidel, Jascha Heifetz and Nathan Milstein—was appointed professor of violin at the St. Petersburg Imperial Conservatory in 1868. He remained until the Revolution, then moved to the U.S. In 1878, Tchaikovsky dedicated his violin concerto to Auer, but withdrew the honor when the latter declared it "unplayable." Later on, Auer recanted, performed the work repeatedly, and made a point of teaching it to all his students including Elman, who came to cherish it as his own.

Mischa was 11 when his father brought him to Auer, vacationing in Odessa, where the family had moved to further the boy's natural talent. When he played Paganini's 24th Caprice and the Wieniawski Second Concerto, Auer insisted the Imperial Conservatory accept him immediately. In St. Petersburg, Mischa gave private concerts for arts patrons, one of whom, the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, gave him an Amati violin. Progress was so rapid that Auer decided Mischa should play a concert in Berlin (where a 10-year-old protégé of Joachim had created a sensation in 1903).

On October 13, 1904, the day before his debut, Elman played privately for Joachim, who could only manage to say, "I am speechless." Not so the audience, which cheered the 13-year-old phenomenon. In 1905 he took England by storm, and joined Nellie Melba and Enrico Caruso in a concert at Buckingham Palace for Edward VII and Alfonso of Spain. Called "the greatest violinist in the world" by London critics, Elman made his American debut in Carnegie Hall on December 10, 1908—one month shy of his 17th birthday—playing the Tchaikovsky concerto with the Russian Symphony Society of New York. Victor Records promptly signed him to a contract (salon music mainly, played with impeccable intonation and rich tone, but with nineteenth century mannerisms forever retained). Elman also made a series of recordings with Caruso and Frances Alda, and excerpts from works by Dittersdorf, Haydn, Mozart, and Schubert with an "Elman String Quartet." By 1912, he had appeared with every major U.S. orchestra, including 31 performances with the Boston Symphony! By 1913, his annual record royalties were $35,000 [$811,000 in today’s money value], and in 1916 Carl Sandburg wrote a paean to his playing entitled Bath.

Then Heifetz, who was Auer's masterpiece, made his American debut in Carnegie Hall on October 27, 1917. He was 16, a decade younger than Elman. Elman asked his box-partner at intermission, "Isn't it getting hot in here?" "Not for pianists," Leopold Godowsky famously replied. Elman continued touring far and wide, but a supernova (Heifetz) had usurped his celebrity—a technician nonpareil, a musician in the "modern" tradition, although Elman continued to be celebrated as "the violinist with the golden tone."

In 1926, Vitaphone made a six-minute "full-sound" film of him playing Dvorák and Gossec. Then came concerto recordings: his first Tchaikovsky in 1929, others later, although he didn't make a complete sonata recording until after WWII. In 1951, Elman switched to London Decca, recording concertos conducted by Boult, the young Solti, and Krips (Mozart with treacle). The last decade found him recording in Vienna for Vanguard, but never the Martinu Second Concerto he commissioned in 1943—only Khachaturian's populist artifact.


Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) - Rujana, H.100 - piano piece
Post by: Scion7 on May 16, 2012, 08:18:10 AM
(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b2/Caspar_David_Friedrich_023.jpg)

      an interesting historical note from the NAXOS liner notes:

The sea fantasy Rujana, H.100 (1916), derives its title from the Slavic name for Rügen, Germany's largest island, located on the Baltic Sea. The Rujanes, who settled on the island in the seventh century, were western Slavic peoples. Beginning in 1815, when it became part of the Kingdom of Prussia, bathing resorts were established, and Rügen became the most famous holiday destination of Germany until World War II. Following German reunification in 1990, it regained that status. The island's extensive chalk cliffs were portrayed in the famous painting Kreidefelsen auf Rügen (1818) by Caspar David Friedrich.

Pianist Giorgio Koukl presented the world-première performance of Rujana in the RSI studios, in preparation for his première recording on
NAXOS Piano Music (Complete), Vol. 4.

Hope the size of the image didn't startle anyone with a pacemaker.   ;D

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) - Rujana, H.100 - piano piece
Post by: snyprrr on May 16, 2012, 09:54:45 AM
(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b2/Caspar_David_Friedrich_023.jpg)

      an interesting historical note from the NAXOS liner notes:

The sea fantasy Rujana, H.100 (1916), derives its title from the Slavic name for Rügen, Germany's largest island, located on the Baltic Sea. The Rujanes, who settled on the island in the seventh century, were western Slavic peoples. Beginning in 1815, when it became part of the Kingdom of Prussia, bathing resorts were established, and Rügen became the most famous holiday destination of Germany until World War II. Following German reunification in 1990, it regained that status. The island's extensive chalk cliffs were portrayed in the famous painting Kreidefelsen auf Rügen (1818) by Caspar David Friedrich.

Pianist Giorgio Koukl presented the world-première performance of Rujana in the RSI studios, in preparation for his première recording on
NAXOS Piano Music (Complete), Vol. 4.

Hope the size of the image didn't startle anyone with a pacemaker.   ;D

OOOO...Ahhhh...

nice!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: eyeresist on May 16, 2012, 05:29:10 PM
That image is ridiculously large.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 01, 2012, 10:06:11 AM
Three cheers for the Field Mass! (Well . . . you get the idea.)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 07, 2013, 06:06:19 PM
Time to revive this thread...

I've been having a bit of a Martinu marathon tonight. I even changed my avatar in honor of this great composer. If I remember correctly, when I first joined this forum, I was going through a Martinu phase that had spilled over from my membership on another classical forum.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 07, 2013, 06:47:13 PM
Does anybody know Martinu's cause of death? I can't seem to find it anywhere.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: not edward on January 07, 2013, 07:42:10 PM
Does anybody know Martinu's cause of death? I can't seem to find it anywhere.
Cancer. Which makes the joyous nature of the Nonet, written as he was dying, all the more remarkable.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 07, 2013, 07:44:56 PM
Cancer. Which makes the joyous nature of the Nonet, written as he was dying, all the more remarkable.

Thank you, Edward.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 07, 2013, 08:59:54 PM
Bought these Martinu recordings tonight:

(http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B002DMIIUW.01.L.jpg) (http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B000007NE9.01.L.jpg)

(http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B00006I49I.01.L.jpg) (http://www.silverdisc.com/images/04/099925305826.jpg)

(http://plade-klassikeren.dk/mediafiles/images/Martinu.%20The%20Butterfly%20that%20Stamped.%2011%200380-2%20f.JPG) (http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B000025M7M.01.L.jpg)

Dancing Divertimentian said he owned all of these except for The Opening of the Wells recording. He told me to listen to the Oboe Concerto, but Greg would probably tell me to listen to the Harpsichord Concerto first. Decisions...decisions...
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: North Star on January 08, 2013, 04:03:01 AM
Bought these Martinu recordings tonight:

Dancing Divertimentian said he owned all of these except for The Opening of the Wells recording. He told me to listen to the Oboe Concerto, but Greg would probably tell me to listen to the Harpsichord Concerto first. Decisions...decisions...

I'll not make it easier - listen to the Nonet!

E: And perhaps the discussion from the purchase thread should be copied here?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on January 08, 2013, 05:56:56 AM
Bought these Martinu recordings tonight:

(http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B002DMIIUW.01.L.jpg) (http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B000007NE9.01.L.jpg)

(http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B00006I49I.01.L.jpg) (http://www.silverdisc.com/images/04/099925305826.jpg)

(http://plade-klassikeren.dk/mediafiles/images/Martinu.%20The%20Butterfly%20that%20Stamped.%2011%200380-2%20f.JPG) (http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B000025M7M.01.L.jpg)

Dancing Divertimentian said he owned all of these except for The Opening of the Wells recording. He told me to listen to the Oboe Concerto, but Greg would probably tell me to listen to the Harpsichord Concerto first. Decisions...decisions...

And you didn't get the Supraphon with the Serenades?

The Nonet, Oboe, & Harpsichord Concertos are all of the same wonderful late vintage.


I'm curious about the Concerto da Camera (not the String Quartet) and the Piano/Violin Concerto.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2013, 06:58:36 AM
I'll not make it easier - listen to the Nonet!

E: And perhaps the discussion from the purchase thread should be copied here?

I'm actually really curious to hear that Oboe Concerto after DD was talking about it. Don't worry the Nonet will be heard.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2013, 07:17:43 AM
And you didn't get the Supraphon with the Serenades?

The Nonet, Oboe, & Harpsichord Concertos are all of the same wonderful late vintage.


I'm curious about the Concerto da Camera (not the String Quartet) and the Piano/Violin Concerto.

The Concerto da Camera is a really nice work, snyprrr. You haven't heard the piano or violin concerti yet?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brian on January 08, 2013, 07:20:33 AM
I'm actually really curious to hear that Oboe Concerto after DD was talking about it. Don't worry the Nonet will be heard.
I'm gonna go see if the Oboe Concerto's on NML. My oboe-playing friend told me years ago that it was a great piece, and that was the first I ever heard of Martinu.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2013, 07:22:42 AM
I'm gonna go see if the Oboe Concerto's on NML. My oboe-playing friend told me years ago that it was a great piece, and that was the first I ever heard of Martinu.

I don't believe it is, Brian. I looked for it last night. NML doesn't have any of the Martinu Supraphon recordings uploaded.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2013, 07:25:40 AM
Bought two more Martinu recordings:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61FReWJlbEL._SL500_AA280_.jpg) (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51WOkJYlUbL._SL500_AA280_.jpg)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brian on January 08, 2013, 07:38:00 AM
I don't believe it is, Brian. I looked for it last night. NML doesn't have any of the Martinu Supraphon recordings uploaded.


It sure is! A Simax recording with Gregor Zubicky, conducted by Jukka-Pekka Saraste. It's an utterly wonderful piece, similar in sound-world to the Second Symphony, perhaps. Light on its feet. Goodness, how fantastic. I think I'm going to go on a Martinu marathon too now  8)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2013, 07:39:43 AM

It sure is! A Simax recording with Gregor Zubicky, conducted by Jukka-Pekka Saraste. It's an utterly wonderful piece, similar in sound-world to the Second Symphony, perhaps. Light on its feet. Goodness, how fantastic. I think I'm going to go on a Martinu marathon too now  8)

Great! I can wait of course. I've got a lot of Martinu in the oven right now (I already own a pretty substantial Martinu collection).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2013, 07:46:35 AM
One of the treasures of my Martinu collection (they're all really so wonderful though):

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51OL46xb-UL._SL500_SS500_.jpg)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: North Star on January 08, 2013, 08:12:31 AM
One of the treasures of my Martinu collection (they're all really so wonderful though):

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51OL46xb-UL._SL500_SS500_.jpg)

Hadn't heard of Le raid marveilleux or On tourne! before, this seems to be in Spotify, but won't have time to listen now. Could you tell something about them, John?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2013, 08:18:00 AM
Hadn't heard of Le raid marveilleux or On tourne! before, this seems to be in Spotify, but won't have time to listen now. Could you tell something about them, John?

They're each highly Neoclassical works with a lot of jazzy inflections made to the music throughout. Here's what somebody wrote on Amazon about them which I thought was a good description:

These three ballets very much reflect the spirit of the 20's. Neo-classicism, the influence of Diaghilev and Stravinsky, jazz and the 'mecanique'.
By far the more well-known work, 'La Revue de cuisine' (Kitchen Revue) is a ballet for kitchen utensils. The fourth movement is entitled, 'Dance of the pot and the lid'. Written for a sextet of instruments (violin, cello, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet and piano), this is lively, vibrant jazz-informed neo-Classicism.

'Le Raid merveilleux' (The Amazing Flight) and 'On tourne!' (Roll the Cameras) both interest themselves in technology and mechanism.
'Le Raid...' (for a small ensemble of instruments) was written as a response to the tragic death of two French airmen attempting to cross the Atlantic just two weeks before Lindbergh.
This mini-ballet was conceived 'sans personnages' for lighting and shadows alone. The French avant-garde was surely in Martinu's mind. In some ways it brings to mind Satie's 'Parade'.

'On tourne!', with its scenario for lobsters, fish, a dancing pearl and a diver that falls in love with it, is making more than a nod in the direction of the surreal. This is very jazz-tinged music to the point of some tunes sounding very familiar, in a generic kind of way. But that's part of the fun and charm of this music. Incidentally, the stage directions for the ballet require the bottom half of the 'tableaux' to be a projected animation of an underwater scene while the top half features a boat and a diver on the surface.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on January 08, 2013, 08:25:53 AM

It sure is! A Simax recording with Gregor Zubicky, conducted by Jukka-Pekka Saraste. It's an utterly wonderful piece, similar in sound-world to the Second Symphony, perhaps. Light on its feet. Goodness, how fantastic. I think I'm going to go on a Martinu marathon too now  8)

Jeez, just when I think I've got enough Martinu, I find something else I gotta get. All the more so as the CSO is playing it this season.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: North Star on January 08, 2013, 08:30:31 AM
They're each highly Neoclassical works with a lot of jazzy inflections made to the music throughout. Here's what somebody wrote on Amazon about them which I thought was a good description:

These three ballets very much reflect the spirit of the 20's. Neo-classicism, the influence of Diaghilev and Stravinsky, jazz and the 'mecanique'.
By far the more well-known work, 'La Revue de cuisine' (Kitchen Revue) is a ballet for kitchen utensils. The fourth movement is entitled, 'Dance of the pot and the lid'. Written for a sextet of instruments (violin, cello, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet and piano), this is lively, vibrant jazz-informed neo-Classicism.

'Le Raid merveilleux' (The Amazing Flight) and 'On tourne!' (Roll the Cameras) both interest themselves in technology and mechanism.
'Le Raid...' (for a small ensemble of instruments) was written as a response to the tragic death of two French airmen attempting to cross the Atlantic just two weeks before Lindbergh.
This mini-ballet was conceived 'sans personnages' for lighting and shadows alone. The French avant-garde was surely in Martinu's mind. In some ways it brings to mind Satie's 'Parade'.

'On tourne!', with its scenario for lobsters, fish, a dancing pearl and a diver that falls in love with it, is making more than a nod in the direction of the surreal. This is very jazz-tinged music to the point of some tunes sounding very familiar, in a generic kind of way. But that's part of the fun and charm of this music. Incidentally, the stage directions for the ballet require the bottom half of the 'tableaux' to be a projected animation of an underwater scene while the top half features a boat and a diver on the surface.

Thanks, John, looks interesting!

I listened to the first movement of the Oboe Concerto (from Youtube) earlier, great stuff.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2013, 08:45:59 AM
Thanks, John, looks interesting!

I listened to the first movement of the Oboe Concerto (from Youtube) earlier, great stuff.

Do you have any favorite Martinu works?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: not edward on January 08, 2013, 08:54:26 AM
I'm curious about the Concerto da Camera (not the String Quartet)
Good piece. Expressively speaking, somewhat in the vein of the Double Concerto, though not quite as consistently taut.
and the Piano/Violin Concerto.
IMO, one of Martinu's very greatest works. It's actually a bit of a throwback to his '40s style, but I can see why Martinu would have revisited the style, given the verve and joie de vivre of the work. For me, it's one of those pieces that can put a smile on my face even when I'm not feeling like it (like, for example, the Brahms piano quartets or Beethoven's 8th symphony).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: North Star on January 08, 2013, 08:56:24 AM
Do you have any favorite Martinu works?

Nonet, Sonatina for 2 violins & piano H. 198, Double Concerto and Julietta. The symphonies, too, but I need to revisit them.

What about you?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on January 08, 2013, 09:18:53 AM
Always something new to discover with this composer. I was driving home listening to the radio, and something with the rather generic title Chamber Music No. 1 came on. It was definitely Martinu-sounding, but jazzier than usual and even a bit avant-gardish. Anyone know this piece?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2013, 09:36:58 AM
Nonet, Sonatina for 2 violins & piano H. 198, Double Concerto and Julietta. The symphonies, too, but I need to revisit them.

What about you?

Sinfonietta la Jolla, Cello Concerto No. 2, Symphonies 3-6, Piano Concerto No. 4 "Incantations", Double Concerto, The Parables, Magic Nights, Violin Concerto No. 2, Rhapsody-Concerto, Concerto da camera, La Revue de cuisine, On tourne!, and the list goes on and on...
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on January 08, 2013, 10:28:40 AM
Always something new to discover with this composer. I was driving home listening to the radio, and something with the rather generic title Chamber Music No. 1 came on. It was definitely Martinu-sounding, but jazzier than usual and even a bit avant-gardish. Anyone know this piece?

I wonder if it isn't from this disc, Velimir (last piece):





Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on January 08, 2013, 10:50:56 AM
Yeah, that's gotta be it. I'll pass on that disc, since I have the other pieces already. My next investment should be the oboe and harpsichord ctos. on Supraphon.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on January 08, 2013, 11:00:57 AM
My next investment should be the oboe and harpsichord ctos. on Supraphon.

I won't argue there! ;D


Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2013, 11:14:25 AM
I won't argue there! ;D

I knew you wouldn't. ;) By the way, what do you think about the Harpsichord Concerto? I personally don't like the instrument that much, but have been impressed with what Poulenc and Falla have done with their concerti for it.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brian on January 08, 2013, 11:36:28 AM
Always something new to discover with this composer. I was driving home listening to the radio, and something with the rather generic title Chamber Music No. 1 came on. It was definitely Martinu-sounding, but jazzier than usual and even a bit avant-gardish. Anyone know this piece?

According to the liner notes to this Naxos disc -

(http://cdn.naxosmusiclibrary.com/sharedfiles/images/cds/hires/8.572485.jpg)

- the title Chamber Music No. 1 is an intentional misdirection. It's the last chamber music he wrote before he died, dating from 1959. He was originally going to call it "Les fêtes nocturnes".

I am listening to this CD now, but am on the Harpsichord Concerto, which comes first. The concerto is most notable because the chamber ensemble also includes a piano, leading the harpsichord and piano to interesting dialogues.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2013, 11:59:55 AM
Bought one more Martinu recording that I didn't own:

(http://cdn.7static.com/static/img/sleeveart/00/008/954/0000895430_350.jpg)

I'm done for awhile now. :) I bought this for $15, which is a great bargain.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2013, 12:06:15 PM
To recap, here's what I have on the way...

(http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B002DMIIUW.01.L.jpg) (http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B000007NE9.01.L.jpg) (http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B00006I49I.01.L.jpg) (http://www.silverdisc.com/images/04/099925305826.jpg)

(http://plade-klassikeren.dk/mediafiles/images/Martinu.%20The%20Butterfly%20that%20Stamped.%2011%200380-2%20f.JPG) (http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B000025M7M.01.L.jpg) (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61FReWJlbEL._SL500_AA280_.jpg) (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51WOkJYlUbL._SL500_AA280_.jpg) (http://cdn.7static.com/static/img/sleeveart/00/008/954/0000895430_350.jpg)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2013, 12:21:27 PM
The opera Julietta seriously needs to be performed and recorded again, especially given the technological advances since that Supraphon recording. I wish Belohlavek or even Hrusa would record this opera. It's such an atmospheric work that I'd love to be able to finally hear all the nuances in the music. Speaking of Martinu's opera, The Greek Passion is one I enjoy as well.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: not edward on January 08, 2013, 12:21:53 PM
Could also be from this fine disc:



It's another of his fine late works--the slow movement is particularly impressive, a great example of the vein of lyrical melancholy that appears often in Martinu's late work.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2013, 01:07:02 PM
I'm digging this performance of Spalicek a lot:

(http://img.musicmerchant.co.uk/Image.aspx?id=QjAwMFZYMVFGTw==)

It certainly points at Stravinsky's Les noces, but has it's own distinctive character. This is an earthy ballet and has this wonderful folk feeling throughout. Kind of reminds of Bartok's works like Hungarian Peasant Songs or Szymanowski's Harnasie. Great stuff.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on January 08, 2013, 01:31:11 PM
Bought one more Martinu recording that I didn't own:

(http://cdn.7static.com/static/img/sleeveart/00/008/954/0000895430_350.jpg)

I'm done for awhile now. :) I bought this for $15, which is a great bargain.
I must say I've liked 'The Miracle of our Lady' cycle ever since hearing a broadcast of the set on R3,quite a few years ago,now! It made an impression on me & not everything I hear,while I'm 'casually' listening to the radio,does that for me! Anyway, I finally got around to buying the set about a year or so,ago & I still like it. The performances are marvellous & the music has a wonderfully strange atmosphere,no wonder it stuck in my mind. I find it strange that some people here don't think too highly of it? Oh,well!!! ::) Anyway,that aside,I have been curious about 'Spalicek' for a while,so you're post may be the clincher,Mirror Image! It strikes me as one of his less well known works..... out of quite allot of music!!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2013, 01:42:54 PM
I must say I've liked 'The Miracle of our Lady' cycle ever since hearing a broadcast of the set on R3,quite a few years ago,now! It made an impression on me & not everything I hear,while I'm 'casually' listening to the radio,does that for me! Anyway, I finally got around to buying the set about a year or so,ago & I still like it. The performances are marvellous & the music has a wonderfully strange atmosphere,no wonder it stuck in my mind. I find it strange that some people here don't think too highly of it? Oh,well!!! ::) Anyway,that aside,I have been curious about 'Spalicek' for a while,so you're post may be the clincher,Mirror Image! It strikes me as one of his less well known works..... out of quite allot of music!!

I think I recall seeing your post about this particular work, so I looked over my Martinu collection and I didn't own it, so I had to have it, especially since it's not a well-known work. I'm certainly proud that you still enjoy it. I feel the same way about The Greek Passion (Mackerras/Supraphon). It's a fine opera and contains plenty of fine music. Spalicek should appeal to you if you like any of the works I mentioned above by Stravinsky, Bartok, and Szymanowski. I'm not sure why this ballet isn't well-known, but one possibility could be the length of the work. I believe the suites have been recorded by Mackerras. I could be wrong, but I would definitely snap up this recording. The Spectre's Bride is another work worth hearing in this set.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on January 08, 2013, 02:08:47 PM
I knew you wouldn't. ;) By the way, what do you think about the Harpsichord Concerto? I personally don't like the instrument that much, but have been impressed with what Poulenc and Falla have done with their concerti for it.

I think you'll like the harpsichord concerto, MI. It's another highly individual work, very characterful and again written with an ear towards integration (like the oboe concerto). The harpsichord may be the solo instrument but the music as a whole is so well written that you'll hardly notice there's an instrument present you don't really care for. :) The music overall carries the day.


Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2013, 02:12:56 PM
I think you'll like the harpsichord concerto, MI. It's another highly individual work, very characterful and again written with an ear towards integration (like the oboe concerto). The harpsichord may be the solo instrument but the music as a whole is so well written that you'll hardly notice there's an instrument present you don't really care for. :) The music overall carries the day.

Thanks, DD. I look forward to hearing it. Do you own any of the ballets I bought (i. e. Checkmating The King, The Butterfly That Stamped)?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on January 08, 2013, 02:28:53 PM
Thanks, DD. I look forward to hearing it. Do you own any of the ballets I bought (i. e. Checkmating The King, The Butterfly That Stamped)?

The ballets are as of yet unexplored territory for me in Martinu. I've tried to collect as broad a range of music as I can of his over the years but I haven't quite made it to these works yet. Hmm...I do have something left on my Christmas Amazon gift card.... ;D Any suggestions?


Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2013, 03:00:43 PM
The ballets are as of yet unexplored territory for me in Martinu. I've tried to collect as broad a range of music as I can of his over the years but I haven't quite made it to these works yet. Hmm...I do have something left on my Christmas Amazon gift card.... ;D Any suggestions?

Either one of these recordings:

(http://img.musicmerchant.co.uk/Image.aspx?id=QjAwMFZYMVFGTw==) (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51FAJY7WKTL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on January 08, 2013, 03:13:33 PM
Either one of these recordings:

(http://img.musicmerchant.co.uk/Image.aspx?id=QjAwMFZYMVFGTw==) (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51FAJY7WKTL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Cool. I'll look into them! Thanks.



Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2013, 03:16:20 PM
Cool. I'll look into them! Thanks.

No problem, DD.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2013, 04:54:27 PM
Here's a great Martinu recording that I've been revisiting:

(http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B000000AR5.01.L.jpg)

Edit: Belohlavek has better recorded performances of the 4th on the Supraphon and Onyx labels.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on January 08, 2013, 08:07:51 PM
You haven't heard the piano or violin concerti yet?

I remember everyone on this Thread drooling over it previously. Is it only on the Hyperion?


I saw you got the 'Serenades' (my favorite 40 minute disc ::), haha!!), but not with the wonderful original cover. I used to have it, got rid of it, and had to have it again simply for that wonderful early Supraphon cover:

http://www.amazon.com/5-Serenades-Martinu/dp/B0009JOMVK/ref=sr_1_20?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1357704378&sr=1-20&keywords=martinu+serenades
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2013, 08:11:47 PM
Check these out, snyprrr, when you have time:

(http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B0000262OH.01.L.jpg) (http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B001OBV9WC.01.L.jpg)

Both are essential acquisitions for Martinu fans.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 09, 2013, 09:27:02 AM
Has anyone heard this recording:



I've read good things about it. Hurwitz gave it a 10/10 and said it's one of the finest recordings Supraphon has ever released. That seems a bit over-the-top.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brian on January 09, 2013, 09:31:08 AM
I've read good things about it. Hurwitz gave it a 10/10 and said it's one of the finest recordings Supraphon has ever released. That seems a bit over-the-top.

"Among this new release’s many virtues, it’s one of the finest recordings ever to come from Supraphon, balancing the soloist perfectly and rendering the characteristically plangent timbres of the Czech Philharmonic with exceptional vividness."

I interpret that as, it's some of the best recorded sound that Supraphon's engineers have ever achieved.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 09, 2013, 09:34:50 AM
"Among this new release’s many virtues, it’s one of the finest recordings ever to come from Supraphon, balancing the soloist perfectly and rendering the characteristically plangent timbres of the Czech Philharmonic with exceptional vividness."

I interpret that as, it's some of the best recorded sound that Supraphon's engineers have ever achieved.

I guess it pays to actually read the full review. :) Have you heard it, Brian?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 09, 2013, 09:43:54 AM
This recording in question is OOP and quite expensive. Also, the duration of the recording is a stingy 47 minutes. Oh well.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 09, 2013, 10:03:55 AM
Last night, I listened to Symphony No. 2 after several years of not listening to it and I'm rather impressed with it. It's a more subdued work than any of his other symphonies. I was doing some reading about it and it was premiered by Erich Leinsdorf conducting the Cleveland Orchestra in 1943. What do you guys think about this symphony? Any favorite performances? For this particular symphony, I think Neumann does a great job with it since it's more subtle, but Thomson handles it quite well too. I need to hear how Jarvi and Belohlavek handles it.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brian on January 09, 2013, 10:19:42 AM
Last night, I listened to Symphony No. 2 after several years of not listening to it and I'm rather impressed with it. It's a more subdued work than any of his other symphonies.

Well, I for one think there must be a typo in there somewhere! The Second Symphony was the first one to catch my ears, and I still think it the most easily loved and least subdued of his symphonies*, because it's brimming with sunny tunes and catchy rhythms. The slow movement is an exception - it does fit your description, very enigmatic and doesn't build to a great climax like the Fourth does - but the first movement's main theme actually reminds me of Copland, a bit, with the piano in the background of this expansive wide-open range of violins.

*EDIT: Okay except for the scherzo of the Fourth. That thing's a firecracker.

Even now I can hear the exciting rush of the finale course through my mind. Belohlavek's energetic account is what got me into - well, frankly, into the symphonies in general. It glows. I had started listening to Martinu with the Sixth, and found it fascinating but aloof. After falling for the Second I listened to the rest in order. More thoughts on the cycle generally, later, perhaps. :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 09, 2013, 10:50:42 AM
Well, I for one think there must be a typo in there somewhere! The Second Symphony was the first one to catch my ears, and I still think it the most easily loved and least subdued of his symphonies*, because it's brimming with sunny tunes and catchy rhythms. The slow movement is an exception - it does fit your description, very enigmatic and doesn't build to a great climax like the Fourth does - but the first movement's main theme actually reminds me of Copland, a bit, with the piano in the background of this expansive wide-open range of violins.

*EDIT: Okay except for the scherzo of the Fourth. That thing's a firecracker.

Even now I can hear the exciting rush of the finale course through my mind. Belohlavek's energetic account is what got me into - well, frankly, into the symphonies in general. It glows. I had started listening to Martinu with the Sixth, and found it fascinating but aloof. After falling for the Second I listened to the rest in order. More thoughts on the cycle generally, later, perhaps. :)

What I'm saying, Brian, compared to Martinu's other symphonies, the 2nd doesn't come busting out the speakers like the 4th or 5th, it weaves it's magic spell in a different way. It's a different expression and there's reason why I singled it out here. This said, I do love the shimmering sound-world this symphony inhabits. It's not my favorite Martinu symphony, but it could very become one of my favorites.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 09, 2013, 11:18:02 AM
I've been revisiting this set:

(http://www.silverdisc.com/images/88/880040406129.jpg)

Listening to Symphony No. 2. Such an outstanding performance. This set is right up there with Neumann and Thomson, although, again, I need to revisit Jarvi's set at some point.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 09, 2013, 12:32:57 PM
Hey, Brian, I understand now what you mean by Symphony No. 2 having many fiery moments. It certainly does but every Martinu symphony has these moments. The finale of the 2nd is absolutely off the chain with cutting rhythms and radiant melodies. The first movement also contains some powerful moments especially after the music hits its' huge crescendo.

Do you own the Belohlavek set with the BBC Symphony? I can see why they won the Gramophone award. Not that it means much, but these are really excellent, clear-headed performances. The audio quality is also fantastic.

Now listening to Symphony No. 1 from the same set:

(http://www.silverdisc.com/images/88/880040406129.jpg)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brian on January 09, 2013, 01:15:29 PM
Yes, that's the set I have! Got it a few months ago when I moved to Dallas, and marathoned through it a couple times since. Listening to the first five symphonies together can be illuminating because they share so many traits, so many rhythmic patterns, and you even occasionally hear old themes appear in new costumes. I can't think of another composer's symphony cycle that is similarly - I don't know what the word is - that is so closely woven together. Maybe.

Not sure I'd call any symphony of his "subdued," but if I did, it would be the Third. Not because it's actually "subdued," but because when I think of my favorite moments from the symphonies, they're boisterous (Second), yearning/heroic (Fourth), mysterious/threatening (Sixth), but only in the Third are all my favorite moments quieter and more reflective. Especially the entrance of the string soloists in the finale...
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 09, 2013, 01:28:43 PM
I'm actually listening to the 3rd right now and it's conceivably darker hued than its' predecessors. I like this symphony very much. Velimir loves this symphony and I believe he's commented on it many times throughout this thread. I'm going to have to read more about these symphonies as, like you said, there seems to be unifying force behind them all. It's so interesting that Martinu waited so long to compose a symphony. I wonder what took him so long? Before these symphonies, he was attracted to ballets, concertante works, and chamber music. Have you heard the song cycles Nipponari or Magic Nights yet, Brian? Consider this for your next Martinu purchase:

(http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B001F6YZ9U.01.L.jpg)

The song cycles are Debussyian in character with sustained chord voicings and delicate instrumentation. Color is very much key to these works' success. These works reveal a different side to Martinu that you may or may not be familiar with. The other piece of this recording is the Czech Rhapsody and it's quite a patriotic work in style, but it has great twists and turns throughout the work. In the end, only Martinu could have written this piece despite it not sounding like late-Martinu at all (it was written in 1918 I believe).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on January 09, 2013, 06:19:55 PM
Check these out, snyprrr, when you have time:

(http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B0000262OH.01.L.jpg) (http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B001OBV9WC.01.L.jpg)

Both are essential acquisitions for Martinu fans.

I've never heard Piano Concerto No.5. No.4 (RCA) is pretty 'magical' in its nature painting. How is No.5?

Don't you dare try to get me to binge on Martinu cds!! >:D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 09, 2013, 06:22:47 PM
Listened to The Epic of Gilgamesh earlier, anyone else familiar with this work? It's a really cool work for soloists, mixed chorus, and orchestra. Here's some more detail about the work taken from the Martinu Database:

In THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH, Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) created a vocal work whose individuality has earned it a special place in the annals of world musical literature. A major Czech composer who reached the climax of his career outside his native country, Martinů wrote it in early 1955. Written at the same period, during his stay in Nice, France, were works whose "Czech" character incorporated them permanently into the context of the musical culture of their composer homeland where they have since ranked alongside internationally known works of Dvořák, Smetana and Janáček, which are rooted in the same national tradition. All the more surprising, then, was the emergence in that neighbourhood of a composition whose focus was on entirely different spheres. It is as mysterious and exciting as its ancient model, the earliest literary relic of world culture. The Babylonian "Epic of Gilgamesh" probably harks back to the very dawn of Babylon's history. Oral tradition had given rise, since approximately the third millenium B. C., to several versions of Sumerian texts in verse form whose most relevant neo-Assyrian synthesis was unearthed with a series of twelve tablets, dating from around the seventh century B.C. Apart from that, several other versions of the epic have survived (including one in the Hittite language which was deciphered by Bedřich Hrozný, a prominent Czech orientalist), whose modern interpretation has involved considerable scholarly effort and demanding study.

The epic had crucial influence on other works, some of which including, for instance, the Bible, were later to acquire much broader impact. The above-mentioned neo-Assyrian version, which was translated into English by Reginald Campbell Thompson in 1930, was chosen by Martinů as the model for his vocal composition. So absorbed was he by the epic that he had spent several years studying its complex philosophical message before actually setting it to music.

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

http://database.martinu.cz/pages/index/eng#
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 09, 2013, 06:25:18 PM
I've never heard Piano Concerto No.5. No.4 (RCA) is pretty 'magical' in its nature painting. How is No.5?

Don't you dare try to get me to binge on Martinu cds!! >:D

Yes, buy some more Martinu recordings! :D

The Piano Concerto No. 5 has some strong themes and I remember the slow movement was particularly beautiful. A lyrical beauty that one. Of course, those great Martinu rhythms that run through most of his music are also prevalent in the outer movements. An accomplished work.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: not edward on January 09, 2013, 08:04:01 PM
Has anyone heard this recording:



I've read good things about it. Hurwitz gave it a 10/10 and said it's one of the finest recordings Supraphon has ever released. That seems a bit over-the-top.
OOP because the recordings on it were integrated into volumes 3 & 4 of the Hyperion complete Martinu violin concertos.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 09, 2013, 08:06:29 PM
OOP because the recordings on it were integrated into volumes 3 & 4 of the Hyperion complete Martinu violin concertos.

Oh...great! I own all those Hyperion recordings! Searching through Martinu collection...

Thanks, Edward. You saved me some money. I thought they were two different performances. :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on January 09, 2013, 09:31:43 PM
Last night, I listened to Symphony No. 2 after several years of not listening to it and I'm rather impressed with it. It's a more subdued work than any of his other symphonies. I was doing some reading about it and it was premiered by Erich Leinsdorf conducting the Cleveland Orchestra in 1943. What do you guys think about this symphony?

My hunch about this symphony is that it's Martinu's attempt to rewrite Brahms' 2nd. Just speculation on my part, but the structure and mood are very similar to the Brahms, although the whole is much more compressed at only 20-some minutes.

But yeah, very lovable, relaxed piece and more old-fashioned in feel than his other symphonies.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on January 09, 2013, 09:34:12 PM
Listened to The Epic of Gilgamesh earlier, anyone else familiar with this work?

Yeah, great work, MI. I actually wrote about it a few years ago on the opera board. A little long, but at the time I was kinda high on the work. :)




Ah, okay, Gilgamesh.

Well, it's a very likable work. Very approachable. But this is not meant to imply it's lightweight or fluffy. In fact, it is the very opposite.

For anyone already familiar with Martinu's aesthetic the work is self-recommending. It's top-shelf Martinu which means that all the things that make Martinu great are to be found in abundance. It'll grip the listener from start to finish

But what about the many folks who aren't familiar with Martinu's aesthetic? Well, what's to say? Imagine a composer with all the ups and downs of Stravinsky, the quirkiness of Hindemith, and the pensiveness of Britten. Combine these and what you get is a partial picture of Martinu's musical style. Where he strikes out on his own is his unique sense of playfulness - but not as in 'ha-ha' playfulness. More like 'spicy' playfulness. And in his best works Martinu really turns up the spice.

As he does here.

But spice can mean different things depending on the approach. With Gilgamesh it's a matter of using that spice to decorate the musical line to keep the slowish pace of the work from bogging down the listener. But that's the joy of the work!! It's not so much a test of patience for the listener as it is an exploration of undiscovered riches.

It's simply a steady stream of invention, color, and quirkiness, which keeps the listener on their toes and wondering what will happen next. But certainly there's more to the work than a slowish pace. There's nothing quite like Martinu's unique powers of invention and when the orchestral outbursts eventually do come they're all a-dazzle. The complexity, the layering, and the way the outbursts seem so perfectly contrasted with the preceding calm, all this spells drama of the first order and leaves one marveling. The kaleidoscopic effect on the musical line is amazing!

What that I could do justice to the musical effects. No it's not a piece to show off an orchestra's chops - a la Rite or some such - but the moods and colors are pounded home by a rigorous musical regime that dazzles every bit as deeply as your garden variety orchestral showpiece (0:)). It's just a different side of the dramatic coin and Martinu chooses finesse.

Over the long haul there's no repetitiveness or fatigue. Nor is the music watered down or laced with dramatic effects. It's just good honest music. With this type of piece (low-keyed) the goodness resides in the way the music can be made to seem relevant. And at every point the music makes itself relevant. And then some (I think I should mention spice here but I won't ;D).


Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 09, 2013, 09:46:07 PM
Yeah, great work, MI. I actually wrote about it a few years ago on the opera board. A little long, but at the time I was kinda high on the work. :)

Ah, thanks for the feedback. A great haunting work. The orchestration is also noteworthy.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 09, 2013, 09:53:59 PM
My hunch about this symphony is that it's Martinu's attempt to rewrite Brahms' 2nd. Just speculation on my part, but the structure and mood are very similar to the Brahms, although the whole is much more compressed at only 20-some minutes.

But yeah, very lovable, relaxed piece and more old-fashioned in feel than his other symphonies.

I don't know if I agree with that, Velimir, but love the overall sound of the symphony.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 10, 2013, 06:31:33 PM
Had quite a few of my Martinu orders arrive today, I think I'll listen to the Oboe Concerto first...

(I know DD will approve this message)

After the Oboe Concerto, I'll let the recording play through the Harpsichord Concerto, which I'm sure Monkey Greg will approve of, and then I will listen to the ballet Who is the Most Powerful in the World?. Sounds like a good night already.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: TheGSMoeller on January 10, 2013, 06:52:50 PM
Had quite a few of my Martinu orders arrive today, I think I'll listen to the Oboe Concerto first...

(I know DD will approve this message)

After the Oboe Concerto, I'll let the recording play through the Harpsichord Concerto, which I'm sure Monkey Greg will approve of, and then I will listen to the ballet Who is the Most Powerful in the World?. Sounds like a good night already.

Ha! Good memory  ;)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on January 10, 2013, 07:05:32 PM
Had quite a few of my Martinu orders arrive today, I think I'll listen to the Oboe Concerto first...

(I know DD will approve this message)

 ;D



Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 10, 2013, 07:08:13 PM
Ha! Good memory  ;)

:) How about this warm weather today, Greg? Such a weak winter here in GA, eh?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on January 10, 2013, 08:05:48 PM
Had quite a few of my Martinu orders arrive today, I think I'll listen to the Oboe Concerto first...

(I know DD will approve this message)

After the Oboe Concerto, I'll let the recording play through the Harpsichord Concerto, which I'm sure Monkey Greg will approve of, and then I will listen to the ballet Who is the Most Powerful in the World?. Sounds like a good night already.

Pretty chipper, huh? As if they weren't going to be. I've got Holliger in the OC (Philips; check it out) and a Koch cd for the HC (with Francaix and Jelinek).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 10, 2013, 08:11:12 PM
Pretty chipper, huh? As if they weren't going to be. I've got Holliger in the OC (Philips; check it out) and a Koch cd for the HC (with Francaix and Jelinek).

Yeah, I just finished the Oboe Concerto and I enjoyed it greatly. Incredibly lyrical and I love the orchestration. I'm going to listen to it again! :) I'll get to the Harpsichord Concerto eventually...
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 10, 2013, 09:28:41 PM
Has anyone read this book?

(http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0907689655.01.L.jpg)

If yes, would you recommend it? Any other good books on Martinu I should be aware of? I saw two others, but I'm not sure of their quality. The one pictured got a very good review on MusicWeb.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on January 10, 2013, 09:34:57 PM
Any other good books on Martinu I should be aware of?

There's a book by Frank Rybka, who knew Martinu personally, called Bohuslav Martinu and the Compulsion to Compose, or something like that. It has the interesting thesis that Martinu had Asperger's syndrome, and that this condition affected both his musical style and method of composition. You can find large excerpts of the book on Google Books.

Also preview-able on Google Books is Martinu's Mysterious Accident, which is a collection of articles on various aspects of Martinu by several authors. Worth a look.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 10, 2013, 09:37:51 PM
There's a book by Frank Rybka, who knew Martinu personally, called Bohuslav Martinu and the Compulsion to Compose, or something like that. It has the interesting thesis that Martinu had Asperger's syndrome, and that this condition affected both his musical style and method of composition. You can find large excerpts of the book on Google Books.

Also preview-able on Google Books is Martinu's Mysterious Accident, which is a collection of articles on various aspects of Martinu by several authors. Worth a look.

Thanks, Velimir. Have you read these?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on January 10, 2013, 09:49:13 PM
Thanks, Velimir. Have you read these?

Not in their entirety - only the Google excerpts. They were interesting enough that I'm considering trying to get them through inter-library loan.

There are a couple of bios of Martinu (Safranek, Large) but I haven't read either of them.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 10, 2013, 09:52:35 PM
Not in their entirety - only the Google excerpts. They were interesting enough that I'm considering trying to get them through inter-library loan.

There are a couple of bios of Martinu (Safranek, Large) but I haven't read either of them.

Oh, okay. Thanks again. :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 11, 2013, 06:37:51 PM
I've got to say I loved the Oboe Concerto. I didn't think much of the Harpsichord Concerto, although it was well-written with good parts. Who is the Most Powerful in the World? is, without a doubt, a very minor Martinu work, but it's a fun listen. Finishing The Butterfly That Stamped right now, it's a good ballet and definitely more substantial than Who is the Most Powerful in the World?

I received several more of my Martinu orders today. I think I'll listen to the Checkmating the King (Echec au Roi) next.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on January 11, 2013, 08:33:14 PM
I've got to say I loved the Oboe Concerto. I didn't think much of the Harpsichord Concerto, although it was well-written with good parts. Who is the Most Powerful in the World? is, without a doubt, a very minor Martinu work, but it's a fun listen. Finishing The Butterfly That Stamped right now, it's a good ballet and definitely more substantial than Who is the Most Powerful in the World?

I received several more of my Martinu orders today. I think I'll listen to the Checkmating the King (Echec au Roi) next.

Glad you liked the oboe concerto, MI! The harpsichord concerto works for me but it could be I have a higher tolerance for the sound of the harpsichord.




Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 11, 2013, 08:40:12 PM
Glad you liked the oboe concerto, MI! The harpsichord concerto works for me but it could be I have a higher tolerance for the sound of the harpsichord.

Yeah, DD. I would venture to say that the Oboe Concerto is one of Martinu's finest works. It's certainly one of the best concertante works he has composed I think. The Harpsichord Concerto was nice don't get me wrong, but, yeah, I'm not a big fan of the instrument. I would have preferred the work be another piano concerti with perhaps a celeste playing off of the main piano part instead of harpsichord/piano. Just my opinion of course and it's not like we can call Martinu up and have him re-write it. :D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on January 11, 2013, 08:54:28 PM
Yeah, DD. I would venture to say that the Oboe Concerto is one of Martinu's finest works. It's certainly one of the best concertante works he has composed I think. The Harpsichord Concerto was nice don't get me wrong, but, yeah, I'm not a big fan of the instrument. I would have preferred the work be another piano concerti with perhaps a celeste playing off of the main piano part instead of harpsichord/piano. Just my opinion of course and it's not like we can call Martinu up and have him re-write it. :D

A good "modern" transcription for piano might be just what the work needs! ;D



Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 11, 2013, 09:01:01 PM
A good "modern" transcription for piano might be just what the work needs! ;D

Maybe Luke will do it. :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Leo K. on January 15, 2013, 12:06:06 PM
John (Mirror Image) and all the rest in this thread, you have convinced me to try Martinu.  8)

I now have the Neumann account of the symphonies, violin concertos (with josef Suk), and a disk of the complete quartets (I'm at work and can't remember the artists). Can't wait!

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Fafner on January 15, 2013, 12:09:41 PM
John (Mirror Image) and all the rest in this thread, you have convinced me to try Martinu.  8)

I now have the Neumann account of the symphonies, violin concertos (with josef Suk), and a disk of the complete quartets (I'm at work and can't remember the artists). Can't wait!

Welcome!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 15, 2013, 12:30:19 PM
John (Mirror Image) and all the rest in this thread, you have convinced me to try Martinu.  8)

I now have the Neumann account of the symphonies, violin concertos (with josef Suk), and a disk of the complete quartets (I'm at work and can't remember the artists). Can't wait!

Excellent news, Leo! Please don't hesitate to come back to this thread and share your thoughts. :) I hope you got the Panocha Quartet's set of Martinu's SQs on Supraphon. That one is fantastic.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Leo K. on January 15, 2013, 02:28:11 PM
I definitely will John, Thanks! (I'm also trying out Delius too, your avatar intrigued me.)

Yup! The Panocha set is the one I have  8)

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Leo K. on January 15, 2013, 02:40:39 PM
Welcome!

Thanks! (love ur avatar!)

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 15, 2013, 03:14:25 PM
I definitely will John, Thanks! (I'm also trying out Delius too, your avatar intrigued me.)

Yup! The Panocha set is the one I have  8)

You're welcome. Delius is a harder sell than Martinu, but I hope you find at least one work you enjoy.

I found Delius by complete mistake. Many years ago, I was searching for Delibes via Google and I must have misspelt Delibes' name and when I clicked search it came up with the question: "Did you mean Delius?" I never heard of Delius, so that's when I discovered his music. The rest is history. :) Kind of a lame story, but it's certainly true.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on January 15, 2013, 07:27:22 PM
What of the 3 Piano Trios?

I was just listening to the Angell trio, the one that's been available on ASV Quicksilva for years. All of a sudden I felt that the performance wasn't up to par. I looked on Amazon, and Lo!, the PTs aren't very well represented (no Hyperion, for one). The Bekova Sisters on Chandos appear to be the closest competition, but ugh!, they are stretched over two cds, with Ravel.

Anyone got a recommends for PT 3 'The Great'? This one is particularly underrepresented.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on January 16, 2013, 07:53:38 AM
What of the 3 Piano Trios?

I was just listening to the Angell trio, the one that's been available on ASV Quicksilva for years. All of a sudden I felt that the performance wasn't up to par. I looked on Amazon, and Lo!, the PTs aren't very well represented (no Hyperion, for one). The Bekova Sisters on Chandos appear to be the closest competition, but ugh!, they are stretched over two cds, with Ravel.

Anyone got a recommends for PT 3 'The Great'? This one is particularly underrepresented.

anyone?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on January 16, 2013, 09:34:14 AM
What of the 3 Piano Trios?

I don't have a recording of the piano trios yet but I've been eyeing this disc very intently the past several weeks. Online samples (here at JPC) (http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/art/Bohuslav-Martinu-1890-1959-Klaviertrios-Nr-1-3/hnum/8369946) sound enticing.





Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959): PIANO TRIO No.3, 'The Great'
Post by: snyprrr on January 16, 2013, 10:41:01 AM
I don't have a recording of the piano trios yet but I've been eyeing this disc very intently the past several weeks. Online samples (here at JPC) (http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/art/Bohuslav-Martinu-1890-1959-Klaviertrios-Nr-1-3/hnum/8369946) sound enticing.





PT 3 is the 'Great' one (in C major/minor), and quite a modern delight, and yet is the one neglected by all except the completists. I'm curious why the new Naxos isn't tingling your spider senses? Anyway, it does seem like we have the Angell, Naxos, and the Kinsky there, as the only Complete surveys?

But here's the thing. You can get the 5 Pieces as a filler to many PT recital cds. And, if they do play one of the bigger ones, it's always the D-minor. As I said, I was beginning to question the Angell's competency all of a sudden, making me think that the Domus folks had put out a Martinu disc, but, no, we are pretty thin.

I'm gonna ask you to check out the Naxos also. Meetcha back here at 21:00. Roger out.


I'm really hoping we have more fans here! ???
Title: Bohuslav Martin (1890-1959)
Post by: Leo K. on January 17, 2013, 12:54:54 AM
You're welcome. Delius is a harder sell than Martinu, but I hope you find at least one work you enjoy.

I found Delius by complete mistake. Many years ago, I was searching for Delibes via Google and I must have misspelt Delibes' name and when I clicked search it came up with the question: "Did you mean Delius?" I never heard of Delius, so that's when I discovered his music. The rest is history. :) Kind of a lame story, but it's certainly true.

Thanks for sharing that, Delius came to you first!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959): PIANO TRIO No.3, 'The Great'
Post by: Brian on January 17, 2013, 05:45:26 AM
I'm gonna ask you to check out the Naxos also. Meetcha back here at 21:00. Roger out.

When the Naxos version came out, I listened to a few tracks having never heard the Martinu piano trios before. I didn't make it through the CD; the playing was rather suspect.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959): PIANO TRIO No.3, 'The Great'
Post by: snyprrr on January 17, 2013, 08:30:36 AM
When the Naxos version came out, I listened to a few tracks having never heard the Martinu piano trios before. I didn't make it through the CD; the playing was rather suspect.

Aaargh! :( That makes TWO. >:( Hopefully, then, the Kinski group is better. Why no Hyperion??
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on January 17, 2013, 10:50:08 AM
I'm curious why the new Naxos isn't tingling your spider senses?

I'm gonna ask you to check out the Naxos also. Meetcha back here at 21:00. Roger out

Hey, snyps.

Well, not owning either disc (Praga or Naxos) I'm not sure I can offer anything of substance beyond what I glean from internet sampling. I've long enjoyed Martinu's music so I do have clear preferences and one thing I've learned is for me Czech performers are most able (but not exclusively) to capture that elusive "folksy" element in Martinu's music, which is essential for buoyancy and lift.

Just from the JPC samples alone this is precisely what I hear in the Kinsky performances, along with ample color, which shouldn't be downplayed!

Totally unscientifically (sampling only) I'm not so sure I hear any of this in the Arbor samples (again on JPC). (http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/art/Bohuslav-Martinu-1890-1959-Klaviertrios-Nr-1-3/hnum/1133229) But this is of course only an impression as I haven't given either full listens.

This is tough since it's not exactly fair to denounce a recording based on sampling alone but in the "sampling game" between these two sets I have no doubt I'd sooner plunk down for the Kinsky.

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Daverz on January 17, 2013, 04:13:24 PM
eclassical has the Czech Trio (on Arco Divo) and the Schubert Ensemble in Piano Trio 3.  Maybe I'll just try one.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on January 17, 2013, 08:05:54 PM
Hey, snyps.

Well, not owning either disc (Praga or Naxos) I'm not sure I can offer anything of substance beyond what I glean from internet sampling. I've long enjoyed Martinu's music so I do have clear preferences and one thing I've learned is for me Czech performers are most able (but not exclusively) to capture that elusive "folksy" element in Martinu's music, which is essential for buoyancy and lift.

Just from the JPC samples alone this is precisely what I hear in the Kinsky performances, along with ample color, which shouldn't be downplayed!

Totally unscientifically (sampling only) I'm not so sure I hear any of this in the Arbor samples (again on JPC). (http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/art/Bohuslav-Martinu-1890-1959-Klaviertrios-Nr-1-3/hnum/1133229) But this is of course only an impression as I haven't given either full listens.

This is tough since it's not exactly fair to denounce a recording based on sampling alone but in the "sampling game" between these two sets I have no doubt I'd sooner plunk down for the Kinsky.

You're right. I just can't believe their wasn't an old Supraphon/Panton/Praga PT recital floating around. But, the new generation of Czech artists hopefully will fulfill expectations and beyond.

I mean, really, Martinu's contribution to the Piano Trio IS, if we look, the Greatest of his generation (maybe Villa-Lobos?),... again, none by Hindemith, Bartok, Stravinsky, Vienna, etc.,... Martinu IS The Man here, and it does seem high time to have a Master Key Performance (btw-the name of my Recording Company, back off!!) of at least the 3rd.

Does anyone else have the Angell Trio on ASX Quicksilva? They just made me want the TOTALITY,... MOOOOOORE!!!, I WANT MORE!!! :'( :'( waaah,... how much to hire a trio from Peabody?? I smell Grammy!!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Leo K. on January 26, 2013, 08:26:46 AM
Listening to my new Neumann/CzPO - complete set of symphonies on Supraphon - from late '70s.

(http://www.musicweb-international.com/classRev/2001/Aug01/Martinu_Symphonies_Neumann.jpg)

Starting at the beginning with the 1st symphony.

Martinu was 51 - a late age for starting down the symphonic route - although Brahms was also a late starter. Koussevitsky commissioned the symphony (alongside Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra and Stravinsky's Ode) in memory of his wife, Natalie. The First is romantically inclined - thick with images of seas thriving with swirling plankton, effervescently irrepressible, the stamp of the Rite of Spring, the chuckle of Petrushka, the third movement a funereal reflection rising to a great string anthem - the equipoise of the whole work. The Supraphon notes (they seem to have been written in 1989) by Jaroslav Mihule (an expert on the composer who has written several books on the subject - sadly not translated into English) are exemplary. They buck the Czech trend of years gone by when Supraphon LPs were usually 'blessed' with hilarious translations into quasi-English. Mihule's information is date, place and person specific. Musical analysis is left on the sidelines. Biographical backdrop is carefully placed alongside artistic cross-reference. Rhythm is the key of this work it seems, reminding me of the psychological Models for imitation in the brains of everyone in the room hearing the same rhythm, forcing them to operate simultaneously and perform the same behaviors in synchrony

The First Symphony was written within a year of the composer's dispossessed arrival in the USA. It was begun in May 1942 in Jamaica and finished quite quickly in 15 weeks - this the longest synchrony. This Martinu driving rhythm is addictive. How is this possible? Is this unconscious mind control by rhythmic sound only driving our bodily motions, or could it be affecting deeper mental processes? The mystery runs deeper than previously thought, according to psychologist Annett Schirmer reporting new findings today at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans. Rhythmic sound “not only coordinates the behavior of people in a group, it also coordinates their thinking—the mental processes of individuals in the group become synchronized.” Within a few measures of music your brain waves start to get in synch with the rhythm. The Martinu First is cast on an epic scale, and features a lilting, melodic first movement, a haunting, soulful Largo, a peppery scherzo, and a rhapsodic finale. You walk into a bar and music is thumping. All heads are bobbing and feet tapping in synchrony. Somehow the rhythmic sound grabs control of the brains of everyone in the room forcing them to operate simultaneously and perform the same behaviors in This region of the brain processes the earliest steps in vision, the circuits that detect visual input. This means that our perception of the external world entering our mind through our eyes is affected by the rhythm of what we hear. Something seen at a point precisely in beat with an auditory rhythm is more likely to be perceived than if it appears out of synch with the rhythm.

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Conor71 on January 27, 2013, 01:06:14 AM
You're right. I just can't believe their wasn't an old Supraphon/Panton/Praga PT recital floating around. But, the new generation of Czech artists hopefully will fulfill expectations and beyond.

I mean, really, Martinu's contribution to the Piano Trio IS, if we look, the Greatest of his generation (maybe Villa-Lobos?),... again, none by Hindemith, Bartok, Stravinsky, Vienna, etc.,... Martinu IS The Man here, and it does seem high time to have a Master Key Performance (btw-the name of my Recording Company, back off!!) of at least the 3rd.

Does anyone else have the Angell Trio on ASX Quicksilva? They just made me want the TOTALITY,... MOOOOOORE!!!, I WANT MORE!!! :'( :'( waaah,... how much to hire a trio from Peabody?? I smell Grammy!!


I have owned the Angell Trio recording for a couple of years - it was my introduction to this Composer. I have always been very satisfied with this recording and never felt the need to seek out further performances. I have listened to them a fair bit (I think play count is about 15 at the moment).
I am not much of a critic if i am being honest - can you explain a bit more about what you found not up to scratch on this recording? :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Leo K. on February 02, 2013, 01:25:51 PM
I am listening to Symphony no.3 from my Neumann set. Wow!!! What a shattering emotional experience.

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on February 02, 2013, 08:18:51 PM
I am listening to Symphony no.3 from my Neumann set. Wow!!! What a shattering emotional experience.

Yes, the symphonies rock!



Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Daverz on February 03, 2013, 01:58:22 PM
I am listening to Symphony no.3 from my Neumann set. Wow!!! What a shattering emotional experience.

I think his digital 3rd is even more shattering.

(Because what what a GMG thread be without a mention of an obscure OOP recording...)

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=neumann+martinu+3+6&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aneumann+martinu+3+6
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: jidlomonster on April 29, 2013, 01:39:24 AM
I'd like to bring a new CD to the attention of all readers of this forum.  I've been closely associated with it and hope that all lovers of Martinů's music will share my enthusiasm.

When I wrote my book on the Martinů symphonies, I spent some time discussing his unknown early orchestral works. None of them had ever been commercially available, and I expressed the opinion that they probably never would be. How delighted I am that they are now starting to appear, and that I have been able to play a large part in their rehabilitation, having edited the scores for publication and produced the orchestral parts.

Martinů: Early orchestral works Volume 1, on Toccata Classics, is the first CD in a planned series of six. It includes the following pieces:

1. Prelude en forme de scherzo: Martinů's orchestration of one of his Eight Preludes for piano, H181. A tiny curtain-raiser to the series, here receiving its first recording.

2. An untitled work, without even a tempo designation, known only by its number in Harry Halbreich's catalogue (H90). Long assumed to be incomplete and therefore never performed or recorded before. Mysterious and enigmatic, yet showing the obvious influence of Debussy and Ravel.

3. Posvícení. As far as we know, this is only Martinů's second piece. A short suite for flute and strings, played continuously and lasting about seven minutes. Thoroughly cheerful and invigorating, and entirely deserving of its place on this disc.

4. Nocturno No. 1. This piece was first broadcast on Radio Brno in the 1960's. More recently, it has been thoroughly edited by Sandra Bergmannová of the Martinů Institute in Prague and received some modern performances. Very solemn and reflective.

5. Little Dance Suite. Intended for performance by the Czech Philharmonic under Václav Talich in 1920, but withdrawn by Talich at the rehearsal stage. Also broadcast on Brno Radio in the 1960s. More recently, Roman Válek has performed the third movement in concert. Despite the title, this piece is 40 minutes long - morover, it is a delight from start to finish. It is a major re-discovery, and the spectacular finale alone is worth the price of the disc.

Ian Hobson conducts Sinfonia Varsovia on this CD. The performers quickly became very enthusiastic about this project, and their commitment is evident in every bar. A podcast is available at

<https://soundcloud.com/toccataclassics/martinu-early-orchestral-works>

where I talk with Martin Anderson about these works, with illustrative excerpts. If you wish to order a copy, please visit www.toccataclassics.com.  All tracks are available as mp3 downloads too. 

I do hope that you will enjoy this very special and important issue!!

Michael Crump
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Hattoff on April 29, 2013, 05:33:07 AM
Excellent, I look forward to hearing these works.
Are they radically different from his later style? because, indeed, he had his own musical language which I love.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: jidlomonster on April 29, 2013, 07:15:36 AM
If you know works like the Czech Rhapsody, First String Quartet or Magic Nights, all written just before the Little Dance Suite, then you'll know that Martinů at this time was producing a lot of very attractive music which only fittingly shows signs of the composer that he was to become.  And he seems to be trying on lots of hats.  Two of the works here (Orchestral movement H90, and Nocturne H91) show the same fascination with Impressionism as does Magic Nights.  They are slight but beguiling pieces.

Little Dance Suite has no sign of this influence.  Instead, Smetana and Dvořák loom large over this score, as they do over the Six polkas for piano and the ballet 'The Shadow' both written not long before. (We are hoping to do this ballet in a later volume).  Only in its joie de vivre and infectious rhythm does the Dance Suite remind me of later Martinu.  The orchestration is expert and highly pleasing but still somewhat generic, apart from in the third movement Scherzo and trio.  Here the wind players have the scherzo to themselves and Martinu divides the strings in a very novel way to deliver the trio.

No-one would hear any of this music and say 'That must be Martinů'.  But I think it's wonderful music.  After working on the score of the Little Dance Suite for six months, I still could not dislodge the tunes from my head.  That must say something about their quality!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brewski on April 29, 2013, 09:24:00 AM
Michael, welcome to GMG, and congratulations, both on the book and on the new CD release. You'll find many Martinů admirers here (including me), who will I'm sure find this very interesting.

If you like, feel free to introduce yourself formally in the "Introductions" section of the board, and hope you enjoy your time here.

PS, coincidentally, tomorrow night I'm hearing the Double Concerto, for the first time live since I heard it some ten years ago by the Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam - magnificent piece, and a shame it doesn't show up more often in the concert hall (at least here).

--Bruce
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on November 24, 2013, 02:37:15 PM
Food for thought

Something interesting I found: this is a (partial) transcription from the book Martinu's Mysterious Accident. A conversation between two musicologists (I think: their names are not familiar to me). Some intriguing theories put forth regarding Martinu's style and approach.

*********

Extracts from a conversation held between Jiri Kratochvil and Michael Beckermann on Martinu's music

Kratochvil: What does Martinu’s music mean to you?

 MICHAEL BECKERMANN: It seems to me that Martinu is one of the great cartographers, mapping a certain aspect of the human imagination. In my view, the experience in question is that place in the imagination that causes time to stand still and allows us to imagine paradise. This is, of course, elusive, and in Martinu’s compositions it is always being lost and found. ......
He’s quite simply plugged into one of the great tendencies of human consciousness: the search for an unattainable point of rest in our travails, our suffering, our journey. In order to do this, he first had to cultivate and master the process of forward motion in music, and he is  almost unique in the many ways he can create a sense of flow. Then he had to figure out how to get from one state to another, and I think that alone is worth serious study. The Symphony no. 6 is filled with such moments. No composer, not even Beethoven, explored this world of idyllic space more fully.........He is exploring a realm of the human spirit which most composers are afraid to look at. You don’t get patted on the back for cultivating an image of the lost paradise we all crave, the womb in the tower that we’ve all been tossed out of.......Not to go into Zen zone here, but it seems to me that the human mind processes information in many different ways, and is remarkable in its ability to simultaneously control many different images. Most of these images locate the mind/body in time, and suggest or imply moving forward in time. But some aspects of consciousness allow us to contemplate the negation of time, or a more circular time that doesn’t move “forward”, but either circles or stands still.....it must follow that listeners who are profoundly moved by the composer’s works sense what Martinu is doing - and they can respond to it because they too, have been to those idyllic spaces, and they, like Martinu, realize the futility of preserving them..........In a wonderful passage about The Plays of Mary he says that the composer merely arranges things, it is the duty of the audience to use their imagination to recompose, reorder the material. According to Martinu, the relationship between composer and audience is cooperative.
Two things follow: I believe that the audience should understand that Martinu’s main thrust is creating and departing from perfect worlds. Second, it explains why Martinu’s reception has been so skewed. The audience simply doesn’t know, or doesn’t have the opportunity to reprocess the musical images.
 ......I think that much of what he does is a conscious rebellion against certain aspects of what he perceived as a Teutonic tendency to “bully” the listener. In other words, Wagner tries to force you into an inevitable acceptance of his creative will by leading you, rather forcefully, through a composition. Martinu juxtaposes images, and it’s your job to put them together. That’s the radical difference.

Jiri  Kratchovil: Could you also explain what you mean by “creating and departing from perfect worlds.”

Beckermann: It’s simple; Martinu rarely stays in these idyllic spaces he creates. Much of the real drama of a piece consists of approaches to a “state of grace” and then departing from it, often suddenly. Sometimes there is only a fragment of it, other times it is almost the entire piece, but it's never alone.
The two words Nadia Boulanger uses to describe Martinu are “brilliance” and “purity”. Michael Henderson (to whom she wrote this in a letter), quotes Honegger who, it seems to me, said similar things about Martinu’s music: “It can win the most sophisticated and the most simple listener,”......As far as brilliance, I think some of that is explained by the bustling surface of his music, which in turn depends on his mastered the laws of musical motion. He creates a kind of fluidity by that elusive combination of repetition and elaboration. But in most of his great works he stops for a paradisal respite.

 Could you describe the “Martinu sound”?

 Beckermann: There is no single Martinu sound, but a collection of sub-dialects. Martinu’s key sound is the presence of lyrical moments syncopated in a rather special way, usually surrounded by passages meant to suggest an opposing state. He employs several “fake” twentieth-century styles (Neo-Poulenc, Neo-Stravinsky, Neo-Ravel) and some all-purpose dissonance, but his core style is the syncopated folk stylization. That’s what he believes in, if you will. He doesn’t believe in most of the dissonance - its there to set off the jewels......His “uniqueness” lies in two areas: first, a sonic one. Martinu discovered/created a particular sound world which is his alone. It itself seems bipartite. There is a Martinu “sound” of the syncopated folk stylization, and a “process” whereby this sound is contrasted with other, usually dissonant, sound worlds. The second area of Martinu’s uniqueness involves his creation of a pastoral world, which is the protected space of nation, memory, childhood. This appears in almost every work of his.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) VIOLIN HYPERION?
Post by: snyprrr on April 02, 2014, 12:56:08 PM
I missed the discussion concerning the four volumes of Hyperion's 'Complete Music for Violin and Orchestra'. After looking over, I only find Vol.2 (with the Violin/Piano Concerto) to be somewhat crucial to the Discography. The 2 Concertos can be had WITH the Concerto-Rhapsody on Supraphon, and the tiny Arts label has the Duo Concertante and the Concerto for 2 Violins- leaving what, really? The Flute/Violin Concerto and the Concerto de Camera? Sure, I didn't find the flute bit elsewhere, but, I'm not trying to go full bore obsessive here.

What's the skinny on Martinu's violin front? (Those Hyperion discs are just so tempting and inviting and I'm trying to asssssuage my inclination!!)

Might as well ask everyone's Top7 Martinu:

1) Symph. 6
2) Fresques
3) Parables
4) Harpsichord or Oboe Concerto          Serenades 1-6?
5) Inventions                                        Sinf. Giocosa or La Jolla or Left-hand or...
6) Lidice
7) 3 Ricercare or Toccata e 2 Canzone
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: North Star on April 02, 2014, 12:58:45 PM
Double Concerto for two string orchestras & percussion
Oboe Concerto
Julietta
Nonet no. 2
Gilgamesh
Folk cantatas
Piano Concerto No. 4
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Daverz on April 02, 2014, 01:55:42 PM
Symphonies
Piano Quartet
Spalicek
Double Concerto
Cello Concerto No. 1
Harpsichord Concerto
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on April 02, 2014, 03:24:42 PM
Double Concerto for two string orchestras & percussion
Nonet
Julietta
Nonet no. 2
Gilgamesh
Folk cantatas
Piano Concerto No. 4

Symphonies
Piano Quartet
Spalicek
Double Concerto
Cello Concerto No. 1
Harpsichord Concerto


Just the kind of choices I was looking for. More please!! No one yet has any of the above mentioned Violin Works... yes, the Nonet should be there.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Daverz on April 02, 2014, 03:30:14 PM
Martinu's wife said that the Harpsichord Concerto was the happiest thing he ever wrote.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on April 03, 2014, 12:15:25 AM
Symphony 4
Symphony 6
Symphony 3
Frescoes
Parables
Gilgamesh
Lidice

I also like the 'Incantations' piano concerto and don't know the Harpsichord Concerto. I have been thinking about how great symphonies 6 and 3 are (I always loved No. 4 since coming across that fine old Martin Turnovsky recording on LP).

I have been greatly enjoying this set:

[/asin]
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on April 04, 2014, 08:01:25 AM
Martinu's wife said that the Harpsichord Concerto was the happiest thing he ever wrote.

Milhaud's?,... Martin's?,... no, give me Martinu's or, for a grittier Modern approach, Gerhard.


Symphony 4
Symphony 6
Symphony 3
Frescoes
Parables
Gilgamesh
Lidice

I also like the 'Incantations' piano concerto and don't know the Harpsichord Concerto. I have been thinking about how great symphonies 6 and 3 are (I always loved No. 4 since coming across that fine old Martin Turnovsky recording on LP).

I have been greatly enjoying this set:

[/asin]

It appears there is already some consensus brewing. Let me re-evaluate:

1) Sym. 6
2) Fresques
3) Parables
4) Harpsichord Cto.      ... notice?, mostly Late Works. huh
5) Nonet
6)
7) Lidice

I think you almost HAVE to leave one slot open for people's personal choice, but, I mean, no one can really argue here, can they? I suppose the next five slots might be more up for contention? Martinu's a fun Composer to do this with, no?
 

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on April 04, 2014, 09:10:18 AM
      ... notice?, mostly Late Works. huh

Not really a surprise. His last decade was consistently his best.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on April 04, 2014, 06:02:27 PM
Not really a surprise. His last decade was consistently his best.

I forgot... The 'Estampes'.

'Fresques', 'Parables', "Estampes',... Symphonies 7-9.


I never hear any word concerning, I think, three Late Sonatas, clarinet, viola, and,... trumpet??
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on April 04, 2014, 07:33:24 PM
I never hear any word concerning, I think, three Late Sonatas, clarinet, viola, and,... trumpet??

The Viola Sonata is a nice piece, again from his last decade. I have it on a Naxos chamber-music disc. I've never even heard of sonatas for clarinet and trumpet.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on April 05, 2014, 12:22:32 AM
I don't know the chamber works but the Concerto for a Double String Orchestra is a fine work which I should have included in my list. As someone who teaches History I have also been interested in Martinu's powerful music responses to the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in 1938 (a low point in British History) and the tragedy at Lidice following the assassination of 'The Butcher of Prague', Heydrich (a better moment in British History).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 05, 2014, 05:49:14 AM
I need to listen to Martinu's works for violin and piano. I've got this set lying around waiting to be heard:

(http://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_400/MI0001/180/MI0001180230.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 05, 2014, 05:58:55 AM
If any of you...

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ZchKBBSlL.jpg)

...haven't heard this recording, then, run, don't walk, right over to Amazon and buy it. It's so freakin' great. What's nice, but disappointing at the same time, is this disc offers a glimpse of Mackerras conducting some of Julietta. Beautiful recording all-around.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Ken B on April 05, 2014, 06:24:43 PM
I don't know the chamber works but the Concerto for a Double String Orchestra is a fine work which I should have included in my list. As someone who teaches History I have also been interested in Martinu's powerful music responses to the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in 1938 (a low point in British History) and the tragedy at Lidice following the assassination of 'The Butcher of Prague', Heydrich (a better moment in British History).
+1 to historical remarks
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Ken B on April 05, 2014, 06:25:49 PM
If any of you...

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ZchKBBSlL.jpg)

...haven't heard this recording, then, run, don't walk, right over to Amazon and buy it. It's so freakin' great. What's nice, but disappointing at the same time, is this disc offers a glimpse of Mackerras conducting some of Julietta. Beautiful recording all-around.
Are you back amongst us John?  ;)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 05, 2014, 09:54:54 PM
Are you back amongst us John?  ;)

I'll probably make my return to classical tomorrow with a possible avatar change. (surprise) :D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on April 06, 2014, 02:01:05 AM
+1 to historical remarks
:)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on April 06, 2014, 02:05:35 AM
If any of you...

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ZchKBBSlL.jpg)

...haven't heard this recording, then, run, don't walk, right over to Amazon and buy it. It's so freakin' great. What's nice, but disappointing at the same time, is this disc offers a glimpse of Mackerras conducting some of Julietta. Beautiful recording all-around.
Coincidentally I was looking at this disc online yesterday and it does look tempting I must say. However, I already have a recording of the Suite from Juliette on the very good (and dirt cheap) CD below - which is a great programme in itself and a very good introduction to Martinu. I am annoyed to have missed an opportunity to see Juliette on stage in London in the 1970s:

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: North Star on April 06, 2014, 02:14:40 AM
Coincidentally I was looking at this disc online yesterday and it does look tempting I must say. However, I already have a recording of the Suite from Juliette on the very good (and dirt cheap) CD below - which is a great programme in itself and a very good introduction to Martinu. I am annoyed to have missed an opportunity to see Juliette on stage in London in the 1970s:
But the Mackerras disc has much more from Julietta than just the Suite which lasts 13 mins - the three fragments are 39 minutes of music, with Magdalena Kožená in the title role.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on April 06, 2014, 02:26:20 AM
But the Mackerras disc has much more from Julietta than just the Suite which lasts 13 mins - the three fragments are 39 minutes of music, with Magdalena Kožená in the title role.
Thank you - yes, I realise that and may well still get the Mackerras CD.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 06, 2014, 05:36:36 AM
Coincidentally I was looking at this disc online yesterday and it does look tempting I must say. However, I already have a recording of the Suite from Juliette on the very good (and dirt cheap) CD below - which is a great programme in itself and a very good introduction to Martinu. I am annoyed to have missed an opportunity to see Juliette on stage in London in the 1970s:



Like Karlo (North Star) mentioned, there are Three Fragments from 'Julietta' that are definitely worth hearing not only for Mackerras' fantastic conducting but for the lovely Magdalena Kožená as well.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 06, 2014, 06:15:30 AM
I don't know the chamber works but the Concerto for a Double String Orchestra is a fine work which I should have included in my list. As someone who teaches History I have also been interested in Martinu's powerful music responses to the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in 1938 (a low point in British History) and the tragedy at Lidice following the assassination of 'The Butcher of Prague', Heydrich (a better moment in British History).

Yes, the Double Concerto is an amazing work and certainly one of his finest. You should definitely check out his chamber music, Jeffrey. You would definitely enjoy it. Check out the Nonet, the SQs, the PTs, Piano Quintets, etc. Can't go wrong any of these.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) VIOLIN HYPERION?
Post by: Mirror Image on April 06, 2014, 06:22:47 AM
Might as well ask everyone's Top7 Martinu

Oh what a loaded question! :) I'll have to think about this one for a bit.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Ken B on April 06, 2014, 06:48:39 AM
Yes, the Double Concerto is an amazing work and certainly one of his finest. You should definitely check out his chamber music, Jeffrey. You would definitely enjoy it. Check out the Nonet, the SQs, the PTs, Piano Quintets, etc. Can't go wrong any of these.
I second that.
I am continually impressed by Martinu. I think Milhaud squandered his talent with too rapid composition. Martinu was over prolific too, but wrote a very large amount of terrific music. Koukl's recordings of the piano music contains some good stuff, despite some weaker pieces.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 06, 2014, 06:56:41 AM
I second that.
I am continually impressed by Martinu. I think Milhaud squandered his talent with too rapid composition. Martinu was over prolific too, but wrote a very large amount of terrific music. Koukl's recordings of the piano music contains some good stuff, despite some weaker pieces.

Martinu, Milhaud, and Villa-Lobos were obviously three of the most prolific composers of the 20th Century, but I believe Martinu and Villa-Lobos had better consistency in their writing than Milhaud. With Milhaud, I so often get the impression of a guy who's just spinning notes for their own sake instead of going somewhere with the music. Just one barrage of notes after another.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) VIOLIN HYPERION?
Post by: snyprrr on April 06, 2014, 09:21:57 AM
Oh what a loaded question! :) I'll have to think about this one for a bit.

Ahh, from YOU I want something different!! How about you don't get to pick any obvious choices... no Symphonies... no Lidice... no Nonet... etc.,...
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) VIOLIN HYPERION?
Post by: Mirror Image on April 06, 2014, 09:23:54 AM
Ahh, from YOU I want something different!! How about you don't get to pick any obvious choices... no Symphonies... no Lidice... no Nonet... etc.,...

Then why ask for my top 7 favorite Martinu works if I can't include works that are my favorites?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on April 06, 2014, 01:12:32 PM
Thanks for advice.

Which chamber music score by Martinu would you recommend for starters?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on April 06, 2014, 01:30:44 PM

Which chamber music score by Martinu would you recommend for starters?

My favorites include:

Cello Sonatas (all 3 of 'em)
Nonet (1959)
Piano Quintet No. 2 (No. 1 is good, but No. 2 is stellar)
String Quartet No. 5
La Revue de Cuisine suite (just 5 instruments here, and a lot of fun)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 06, 2014, 01:50:13 PM
Thanks for advice.

Which chamber music score by Martinu would you recommend for starters?

An unconventional choice, but Chamber Music No. 1 -

http://www.youtube.com/v/M-92HocENN0
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) VIOLIN HYPERION?
Post by: snyprrr on April 06, 2014, 04:17:40 PM
Then why ask for my top 7 favorite Martinu works if I can't include works that are my favorites?

We can guess those!!

C'mon,... what about that Violin/Piano Concerto from the Hyperion series that everyone was raving about- or, is one of those Violin Sonatas a masterpiece? Or,... are you just like the rest of us? ??? I'm starting to think we've heard the end of the looong Martinu Discography, and the contenders are what they are, and there are no other hidden gems to discover. hmm
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) VIOLIN HYPERION?
Post by: Mirror Image on April 06, 2014, 04:39:53 PM
We can guess those!!

C'mon,... what about that Violin/Piano Concerto from the Hyperion series that everyone was raving about- or, is one of those Violin Sonatas a masterpiece? Or,... are you just like the rest of us? ??? I'm starting to think we've heard the end of the looong Martinu Discography, and the contenders are what they are, and there are no other hidden gems to discover. hmm

Hmmm...don't get ahead of yourself, snyprrr. We still don't even have a full digital performance of Julietta yet. The current recording on Supraphon is decent, but certainly not the last word on this magical opera. Also, look at how many ballets Martinu composed or just look at his oeuvre in general. It's massive! I doubt any of us could come to the conclusion that this is the end of his discography and that everything that follows now will be a work that has already been recorded. We shouldn't rule out Supraphon nor should we forget about what Toccata Classics are currently doing in the way of releasing his earlier music, which hasn't seen the light of day like this before. Anyway, I remain optimistic about Martinu's future on disc as I hope all other fans will be as well.

FYI, the reason I can't even possibly give a list of my top 7 favorite works is because there's still so much I have yet to hear. I would feel better once I sink my teeth into that Complete Music for Violin and Piano set, but I really need to revisit the SQs again as well. So much to listen to at the moment.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) VIOLIN HYPERION?
Post by: snyprrr on April 06, 2014, 04:57:15 PM
Hmmm...don't get ahead of yourself, snyprrr. We still don't even have a full digital performance of Julietta yet. The current recording on Supraphon is decent, but certainly not the last word on this magical opera. Also, look at how many ballets Martinu composed or just look at his oeuvre in general. It's massive! I doubt any of us could come to the conclusion that this is the end of his discography and that everything that follows now will be a work that has already been recorded. We shouldn't rule out Supraphon nor should we forget about what Toccata Classics are currently doing in the way of releasing his earlier music, which hasn't seen the light of day like this before. Anyway, I remain optimistic about Martinu's future on disc as I hope all other fans will be as well.

FYI, the reason I can't even possibly give a list of my top 7 favorite works is because there's still so much I have yet to hear. I would feel better once I sink my teeth into that Complete Music for Violin and Piano set, but I really need to revisit the SQs again as well. So much to listen to at the moment.

I was just testing your loyalty, lol! (you've GOT to stop letting me troll you like that, garf! :P
If I were the gatekeeper of a Monty Python movie, I would deem your answer worthy of moving on to the next level. Bravo!

When it comes to the Chamber Music, there is just so much to wade through, and not all top drawer,- and not even the 'bigger' pieces are the best- I find the little gems like the first Duo for Violin & Cello (that's on everyone's recital) or the String Sextet or one of the Serenades or Madrigals. I can't keep it straight, but, COME ON!... gaaah :'( :laugh:
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) VIOLIN HYPERION?
Post by: Mirror Image on April 06, 2014, 05:07:19 PM
I was just testing your loyalty, lol! (you've GOT to stop letting me troll you like that, garf! :P
If I were the gatekeeper of a Monty Python movie, I would deem your answer worthy of moving on to the next level. Bravo!

When it comes to the Chamber Music, there is just so much to wade through, and not all top drawer,- and not even the 'bigger' pieces are the best- I find the little gems like the first Duo for Violin & Cello (that's on everyone's recital) or the String Sextet or one of the Serenades or Madrigals. I can't keep it straight, but, COME ON!... gaaah :'( :laugh:

 :P You're absolutely right in saying that there's a lot of music to wade through. Not all of it is top-tier, but I've never heard a Martinu work that I felt bad about listening to. I think he did hit his stride very often, but when he didn't, the musical material could become rather one-dimensional and/or simply overworked, but thankfully this didn't happen too often or at least in my experience.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on April 08, 2014, 08:10:05 PM
Might as well ask everyone's Top7 Martinu:

Some really good recommendations these last couple of pages. Should keep you busy. ;D

I'd add my voice to some of the earlier recs:

Cello sonatas
4th symphony
All the string quartets
Oboe concerto
Gilgamesh
Julietta

And not to forget Martinu as opera composer (besides Julietta), one of my favorite Martinu discs is the following disc containing two one-act operas. The two operas couldn't be more different, not to mention they're two of the most unique works in all Martinu.

The Knife's Tears is one of Martinu's most experimental scores: angular, barbed, full of pot holes, yet never meandering or static. It's not an easy work to categorize beyond the vagueness of this.

In stark contrast, Voice Of The Forest is one of the most lyrical works from Martinu. Graceful and warm, but still familiar Martinu.

It was a great idea to pair these works together: both ends of the Martinu spectrum in one place. 






Oh...of COURSE this disc is OOP. >:(


Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on April 09, 2014, 12:33:44 AM
My favorites include:

Cello Sonatas (all 3 of 'em)
Nonet (1959)
Piano Quintet No. 2 (No. 1 is good, but No. 2 is stellar)
String Quartet No. 5
La Revue de Cuisine suite (just 5 instruments here, and a lot of fun)

Many thanks Velimir and John.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: North Star on April 09, 2014, 12:37:36 AM
Thanks for advice.

Which chamber music score by Martinu would you recommend for starters?
Nonet No. 2 (1959), La Revue de Cuisine, Sonatina for two vlns & pf (1930), the madrigals - all handily in this set:

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on April 09, 2014, 01:19:25 AM
Nonet No. 2 (1959), La Revue de Cuisine, Sonatina for two vlns & pf (1930), the madrigals - all handily in this set:



Thanks very much.  :)

Have ordered this CD which includes the Nonet. Mainly because it was inexpensive.

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brian on April 09, 2014, 03:50:06 AM
People referring to the Nonet as Nonet No. 2 - where is Nonet No. 1? I didn't know there were two.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: North Star on April 09, 2014, 03:53:59 AM
People referring to the Nonet as Nonet No. 2 - where is Nonet No. 1? I didn't know there were two.
Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_compositions_by_Bohuslav_Martinů#Nonets):
Quote
Nonets
Nonet No. 1 (wind quintet, string trio and piano), H. 144 (1925 Paris), fragment
Stowe pastorals (five recorders, clarinet, two violins and cello), H. 335 (1951 New York), 10'
Nonet No. 2 (wind quintet, string trio and double bass), H. 374 (1959 Schönenberg-Pratteln), 16'
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on April 09, 2014, 05:23:04 AM
I think if something is labeled "fragment," it shouldn't be given a number as if it were a completed piece. For me there's only one Nonet.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brian on April 09, 2014, 05:28:58 AM
I think if something is labeled "fragment," it shouldn't be given a number as if it were a completed piece. For me there's only one Nonet.
For us, and also for most performers; I had never seen the work called "Nonet No. 2" on any CDs.

Thanks, North Star!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: North Star on April 09, 2014, 07:25:19 AM
I think if something is labeled "fragment," it shouldn't be given a number as if it were a completed piece. For me there's only one Nonet.
+1, I've only used the numbering to make it clear that the one from 1959 is the one I mean, or if someone else has referred to it thusly.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) Music for Strings and Orchestra
Post by: snyprrr on April 15, 2014, 07:41:54 AM
Music for Violin, Viola, or Cello, with Orchestra

Violin Concerto 1: in the scrappy '30s style, not my favourite

Violin Concerto 2: in the very serious '40s style, also not my favourite


Suite Concertante: in the scrappy '30s style, very scrappy, not my favourite

Duo Concertante: I enjoyed the violin interplay a lot more in this one, even though it's kind of scrappy- still...

Concerto for 2Violins: in the scrappy '30s style, not my favourite


Concerto for Flute & Violin: somewhat scrappy, but some really nice flute and violin passages (somewhat on the 'Duo' level of enjoyment)

Concerto for Violin and Piano: didn't hear

Concerto da Camera: this is in 'War' mode- not the drama of VC2, but like the Double String Orchestra. This, for me, was the hidden gem, though I'd still like to hear the previous Concerto for Violin & Piano that people have been raving about. Still, there's lots of Martinu fun to be had in this piece. Any fans?


Rhapsody-Concerto: in his later, smoother style, very nice. It's a lovely piece regardless of how I feel about it.


Cello Concerto 1: in the scrappy '30s style- still more enjoyablet to me than its violin counterparts

Cello Concerto 2: the Masterpiece! Is this Martinu's actual best Concerto? Maybe?

Cello Concertino: this is a comedy piece, scrappy, but I still like it better than its violin counterparts



It still seems that the Wallfisch/Chandos disc is still the way to go here, huh? Then, hurry to discover the 'Concerto da Camera', and feel free to wallow in the 'Rhapsody-Concerto'! There, did that help? Ha! ;) :D ;D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) Music for Strings and Orchestra
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on April 15, 2014, 10:04:49 AM
Music for Violin, Viola, or Cello, with Orchestra

Violin Concerto 1: in the scrappy '30s style, not my favourite

Agree.

Quote
Violin Concerto 2: in the very serious '40s style, also not my favourite

Strongly disagree. This is one of my favorite Martinu concertos - showed that he could write in a somewhat heavy Romantic style and still retain his best voice.

Quote
Concerto for Violin and Piano: didn't hear

You're missing out, it's one of his best. Strangely, it sounds like it was written about 10 years earlier than it actually was.

Quote
Concerto da Camera: this is in 'War' mode- not the drama of VC2, but like the Double String Orchestra. This, for me, was the hidden gem, though I'd still like to hear the previous Concerto for Violin & Piano that people have been raving about. Still, there's lots of Martinu fun to be had in this piece. Any fans?

Yes, excellent piece in his more relentless mode.


Quote
Rhapsody-Concerto: in his later, smoother style, very nice. It's a lovely piece regardless of how I feel about it.

Sure is!


Quote
Cello Concerto 1: in the scrappy '30s style- still more enjoyablet to me than its violin counterparts

I rank this one highly. It exists in 3 different versions; I think I have the last one (Walfisch recording).

Quote
Cello Concerto 2: the Masterpiece! Is this Martinu's actual best Concerto? Maybe?

Nope! It has some nice bits, but it's too meandering and unfocused for my taste.

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) Music for Strings and Orchestra
Post by: snyprrr on April 15, 2014, 03:34:29 PM
Agree.

Strongly disagree. This is one of my favorite Martinu concertos - showed that he could write in a somewhat heavy Romantic style and still retain his best voice.

You're missing out, it's one of his best. Strangely, it sounds like it was written about 10 years earlier than it actually was.

Yes, excellent piece in his more relentless mode.


Sure is!


I rank this one highly. It exists in 3 different versions; I think I have the last one (Walfisch recording).

Nope! It has some nice bits, but it's too meandering and unfocused for my taste.

VC 2: I meant what you said,- I appreciate it, but, as you said, it is "heavy" Romantic- serious- that's why I like the CC 2 better, for the easy-going meandering style.

The Violin/Piano one is on the same Hyperion disc as the 'Camera', so, that seems to be the one to get.

Who do you like in VC 2?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) Music for Strings and Orchestra
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on April 15, 2014, 06:13:24 PM
The Violin/Piano one is on the same Hyperion disc as the 'Camera', so, that seems to be the one to get.

Yep, an essential disc, that one  :)

Quote
Who do you like in VC 2?

I have the classic Suk/Neumann. There are other recordings, but I haven't heard  them.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on April 16, 2014, 06:02:30 AM
And who do we like in the 'Rhapsody-Concerto'?

Mvmt 1: @9:30-10:30

Mvmt. 2:: 11:00-12:00

Only one had a longer second movement- is that too long or can it handle it?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on April 16, 2014, 07:08:40 AM
And who do we like in the 'Rhapsody-Concerto'?


The same crew as on

the classic Suk/Neumann.

, which also comes with the not-so-great VC 1. Another essential disc.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: pjme on April 16, 2014, 09:59:57 AM
I love some vocal works by Martinu:

The very early Czech rhapsody (1918!) - a big romantic-patriotic cantata

(http://thumbs4.ebaystatic.com/d/l225/m/mu5QgmkOIPe281DAUGZQf6Q.jpg)

Kytice - a setting of folk poems for soloists, chorus and small orch.

(http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_h-CNFw-oGYM/TKZdpqd9cjI/AAAAAAAAAEU/tQlJHBzCI9E/s400/Martinu1.jpg)

The "Plays of Mary" - 3 shortish operas. "The nativity" is very lovely.

(http://content.answcdn.com/main/content/img/amg/classical_albums/cov200/cl100/l199/l199492elb5.jpg)

P.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: pjme on April 16, 2014, 10:08:00 AM
And this, of course!

http://www.youtube.com/v/2_LEfvCwIdQ

Symphonietta giocosa. An old recording - but very stylish! The conductors name should be "Krombholc".


(http://alain.cf.free.fr/images/germaine-leroux-01.gif)

Germaine Leroux, Martinu and conductor Léon Barzin
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on April 16, 2014, 05:29:34 PM
The same crew as on

, which also comes with the not-so-great VC 1. Another essential disc.

I mean, I did used to have that disc- I'm just being difficult! ;)

However, I did survey that CC2, and, yea, I was like, woah dude, it goes on for 38 minutes, and I just KNOW Martinu doesn't have the invention to sustain the length. I used to have the Wallfisch disc (and was planning on retrieving it), and now I can somewhat recall it just going on for ever- even though, it really IS the most Hollywood Concerto (and I mean that in the best way!)! So, thanks for alerting me, I think I may be able to hold off on that disc after all (any reason NOT to Buy is a Good Reason!)!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on April 16, 2014, 05:31:44 PM
Well, I found what I was looking for, a hidden Martinu gem, and I will now go and gloat over my new found maneuverability(spell check won't correct!) in the Martinu swamp! If there are any more Masterpieces to be discovered, they are elsewhere.

Do you like the 4th, or 5th, Piano Concerto better?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on April 16, 2014, 06:46:32 PM
Well, I found what I was looking for, a hidden Martinu gem,

Hey, aren't you gonna tell us what it is? Don't keep us in suspense  >:(

Quote
Do you like the 4th, or 5th, Piano Concerto better?

Right now the 4th, which I think is one of his best last-decade inspirations. But I know it a lot better. I've only heard the 5th a couple of times - a positive experience, but I must explore it further.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on April 16, 2014, 08:00:19 PM
Hey, aren't you gonna tell us what it is? Don't keep us in suspense  >:(

Right now the 4th, which I think is one of his best last-decade inspirations. But I know it a lot better. I've only heard the 5th a couple of times - a positive experience, but I must explore it further.

I haaave to be hush hush until i buy- considering I don't want anyone else to snap up the deal, and I have to wait. I knbow, I know, I do this all the time, when I should do my research in quiet and then present findings, buuut, it's Spring, I'm buying CDs like junkies line up rails- ahhh- make it stop!! (oh- it surely will- haha)-

Surely it's one of the same discoveries that were recently discovered here, hmm??
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: pjme on April 16, 2014, 10:49:58 PM
Pianoconcerto's 4 & 5 cannot be missed and must be bought!

Eat and drink less, buy more cds.

 >:D :P
Peter
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on April 18, 2014, 07:42:00 AM
Hey, aren't you gonna tell us what it is? Don't keep us in suspense  >:(

It was that Vol.2 of the Hyperion series- 'Concerto da Camera', Concerto for Violin & Piano, and 'Czech Rhapsody'. If I was being generous I'd say that VC 2 was the only other work out of the bunch that had substance for me (just not my type of drama right now- autumn...), though, the Concerto for Flute & Violin had some felicitous interplay. I really am tickled that I found a new Martinu cache!- thankfully, that gives me the faith to move on from the '40s and '50s- I'm done discovering "normal" music for a while, and needed to shore up that Martinu.

Yea, wasn't really a 'deal' on it. >:(
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on April 18, 2014, 01:24:07 PM
It was that Vol.2 of the Hyperion series- 'Concerto da Camera', Concerto for Violin & Piano, and 'Czech Rhapsody'.

LOL you disappoint me. That's a well-known and highly praised disc around here. Maybe there are no Martinu gems left for you to discover  :(
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: not edward on April 18, 2014, 02:02:58 PM
LOL you disappoint me. That's a well-known and highly praised disc around here. Maybe there are no Martinu gems left for you to discover  :(
On the other hand, it's always good to reiterate just how good that disc is... definitely the best Martinu recording I've bought in many years.

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on April 18, 2014, 02:15:50 PM
On the other hand, it's always good to reiterate just how good that disc is... definitely the best Martinu recording I've bought in many years.

hey edward, could you please help me in the Penderecki Thrread?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on April 22, 2014, 06:23:28 AM
LOL you disappoint me. That's a well-known and highly praised disc around here. Maybe there are no Martinu gems left for you to discover  :(

Well, I had some catching up to do! I've been listening, and what a great album! The Violin/Piano caught me off-guard by starting in the Minor, but, by the end of the first movement it was exactly as I had imagined- you can practically feel the late '40s, Hollywood type atmosphere- it's quite a classy piece!

And the 'Camera' is echt Martinu, as someone said, in his "relentless" mode. Have yet to meet the 'Czech Rhapsody'.


I checked Groves yesterday, and am now convinced that I do not have any more hidden gems to discover with Martinu (which is a good thing for the wallet!) Frankly, that disc alone up the prestige of my Martinu Library just right where I want it. Finally I can get out of the '40s, whew! (it was getting expensive!)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on April 23, 2014, 07:10:25 AM

Piano Concerto No.5

Right now the 4th, which I think is one of his best last-decade inspirations. But I know it a lot better. I've only heard the 5th a couple of times - a positive experience, but I must explore it further.

Had to finally listen all the way through PC 5. Well, 4 is is two movements, and it's style is very 'fantastique' in my mind, but No.5, 'Fantasie concertante', didn't really deliver the 'fantasia' for me in the outer movements (pretty standard, professional Late Martinu), BUT- the slow movement- yes!- the slow movement is quite a wonder, maybe the most perfectly realized Mozartean slow movement I've heard from the Neo-Classicists. I wasn't too convinced by the outer movements, but, wow, such 'rustic fantasy' in that slow movement, especially that "rustling" section.

Still, No.4 is awesome all the way through.

Violin Concerto No.2

I have come around on this one, help in large part by Ms. Faust's passionate performance on HarmoniaMundi. The cover art seems to concur with my feelings that this is a 'storm clouds' works- cautionary.


My new list of fav concertos:


1) Harpsichord Cto.
2) Piano Concerto No.4
3) Oboe Cto.
4) Violin Cto. 2
5) Concerto da camera
6) Cello Cto. 2
7) Piano Concerto No.5 (for the slow movement alone)
8) Cto. for Violin/Piano
9) Cto. for Violin/Flute
10) Double... or... String Quartet... or... Sinfonia Concertante (all on the Virgin/Hickox disc)

There, that's a pretty nice list, eh?



Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on April 23, 2014, 08:57:21 AM
BUT- the slow movement- yes!- the slow movement is quite a wonder, maybe the most perfectly realized Mozartean slow movement I've heard from the Neo-Classicists. I wasn't too convinced by the outer movements, but, wow, such 'rustic fantasy' in that slow movement, especially that "rustling" section.

I'll have to listen to it again. His slow mvts. are always wonderful. Do you know the one from the Concerto for 2 Pianos, or the Sinfonietta La Jolla? Particularly the latter is an enchanting "starry sky" nocturne-type adagio - similar to the one from Bartok's 3rd PC, but even better I think.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: legoru on April 24, 2014, 04:55:44 AM
Hi! Anybody like Martinu ballets? I think its a good stuff.
My favorite -
1. Checkmating the King, jazz-ballet in 2 act, H.186 (1930)/La Revue de Cuisine (Kitchen Revue), jazz ballet for clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, cello & piano, H. 161 (1927) Not suite! All ballet!
2. The Butterfly that Stamped (Motyl, ktery dupal), ballet in 1 act after Rudyard Kipling, H. 153 (1926) I like impressionism!
3. Spalicek (1933) Suite!
4. Le raid merveilleux (The Amazing Flight), a mechanical ballet without persons for 2 clarinets, trombone & string quartet, H. 159 (1927)

My top list:
Orchestral - Symphony #6, Les Fresques de Piero della Francesca, Les Parables, Estampes, Orchestral Suites from Juliette and Theatre Behind the Gate, Double concerto, Toccata e Due Canzoni
Vocal-Orchestral - Field mass (!), Magic Nights, Niponari, Kytice (Bouquet of Flowers)
Concertos -  Rhapsody, Oboe, Violin 2, Piano 4, Cello 2,
Chamber: Violin sonata #3, Chamber music No. 1, Flute sonata, Nonet, 1-3,7quartet, Fantaisie pour ondes Martenot, Piano quintet 1
Piano: Sonata, Puppettes, Preludes , Borova...
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: North Star on April 24, 2014, 06:56:56 AM
Hi! Anybody like Martinu ballets? I think its a good stuff.
Love the ballets!

Nice choices, some of which I don't know (solo piano, string quartets, a couple of the others)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on April 24, 2014, 06:59:10 AM
I'll have to listen to it again. His slow mvts. are always wonderful. Do you know the one from the Concerto for 2 Pianos, or the Sinfonietta La Jolla? Particularly the latter is an enchanting "starry sky" nocturne-type adagio - similar to the one from Bartok's 3rd PC, but even better I think.

I didn't bring 'la Jolla' with me yesterday- have to wait a week. Do get back to me concerning PC 5's slow mvmt.

Hi! Anybody like Martinu ballets? I think its a good stuff.
My favorite -
1. Checkmating the King, jazz-ballet in 2 act, H.186 (1930)/La Revue de Cuisine (Kitchen Revue), jazz ballet for clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, cello & piano, H. 161 (1927) Not suite! All ballet!
2. The Butterfly that Stamped (Motyl, ktery dupal), ballet in 1 act after Rudyard Kipling, H. 153 (1926) I like impressionism!
3. Spalicek (1933) Suite!
4. Le raid merveilleux (The Amazing Flight), a mechanical ballet without persons for 2 clarinets, trombone & string quartet, H. 159 (1927)

My top list:
Orchestral - Symphony #6, Les Fresques de Piero della Francesca, Les Parables, Estampes, Orchestral Suites from Juliette and Theatre Behind the Gate, Double concerto, Toccata e Due Canzoni
Vocal-Orchestral - Field mass (!), Magic Nights, Niponari, Kytice (Bouquet of Flowers)
Concertos -  Rhapsody, Oboe, Violin 2, Piano 4, Cello 2,
Chamber: Violin sonata #3, Chamber music No. 1, Flute sonata, Nonet, 1-3,7quartet, Fantaisie pour ondes Martenot, Piano quintet 1
Piano: Sonata, Puppettes, Preludes , Borova...

Yes, it's starting to look like we all have the same ideas here!

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on April 24, 2014, 11:21:21 AM
I'll have to listen to it again. His slow mvts. are always wonderful. Do you know the one from the Concerto for 2 Pianos, or the Sinfonietta La Jolla? Particularly the latter is an enchanting "starry sky" nocturne-type adagio - similar to the one from Bartok's 3rd PC, but even better I think.

I thought the PC 5 and the Violin/Piano both had that very stately air, very Classical (and "good" Hollywood)- a little like the Hindemith of 'Nobliesse Visione' and 'The Four Temperments?

I had a few more Martinu questions before I embark:

1) I heard FP (PF?) Zimmermann play the VC2, and I really did enjoy the samples of Faust. I don't know what the question is?!?! :laugh:

2) Can anyone think of any more charming and excellent Martinu Chamber Music than the Duo (No.1) for violin and cello (and how it relates so well to Honegger and Ravel? And the String Sextet? Serenade No.2, and the 'Madrigal' piece...?... ...

3) Are there ANY other 'Serenades' other than the five that are on Supraphon? (non from the '50s as Grove stated?)

4) How essential is that Elan disc of 2Pianos?

5) I never liked the Cello Sonatas and didn't hear anything grabby when I sampled through the 'Complete Violin & Piano'. I'm not bent on getting that Naxos disc of Chamber Music (Viola Sonata, Piano Quartet) AGAIN-  Violin Flute Trio, eh- Cello Flute Trio, eh- Promenades, check,- other harpsichord pieces not so much- Piano, eh, I've got the Sonata (RCA) with the Concertos- other string duos, mm, eh,... Flute Sonata, check

I don't know, what should I go back to? Yes, I left the Piano Quintet off.

I'm hyperventilating again.... oooo....oooooo..... falling off tab.......


ok

6) I think that's it...
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on April 24, 2014, 11:57:07 AM
7) 'The Rock'- how essential? I've tried to find the Supraphon with the Spitfire on the cover, to no avail. I wonder if that albums a lost classic! :o

'The Rock'

and

'Thunderdumpling X5'?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: legoru on April 24, 2014, 09:10:37 PM
The Rock - Ihave on this CD

(http://i56.fastpic.ru/big/2014/0422/3c/0e2880657f8f96c3a9c7d136d764d93c.jpg)

it is even worse than the Estampes, but for fans of Martinu is important to have
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on April 25, 2014, 06:31:57 AM
The Rock - Ihave on this CD

(http://i56.fastpic.ru/big/2014/0422/3c/0e2880657f8f96c3a9c7d136d764d93c.jpg)

it is even worse than the Estampes, but for fans of Martinu is important to have

That's the one- the lost Martinu disc! :'( How are the pieces man?!!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: legoru on April 25, 2014, 09:37:09 AM
That's the one- the lost Martinu disc! :'( How are the pieces man?!!
see PM. And  vote for a five-point scale  8)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on April 25, 2014, 11:13:56 AM
see PM. And  vote for a five-point scale  8)

Awesome! Thanks! Can't wait!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: legoru on April 25, 2014, 11:56:18 PM
Awesome! Thanks! Can't wait!
Not at all! Enjoy!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on April 27, 2014, 02:36:13 PM
see PM. And  vote for a five-point scale  8)

My computer buddy and I were having no luck with that .nz site. Tried to download their 'extention', but it just wasn't taking. Do you have - as my friend said (forgive  him) "a link normal people can use?" haha- sorry, I can't even make a picture on GMG, so I'm not the computy wiz- Press Play is where I've been for a while- I know, I need to consider the next twenty years... mm....

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: The new erato on April 28, 2014, 01:27:47 AM
The Rock - Ihave on this CD

(http://i56.fastpic.ru/big/2014/0422/3c/0e2880657f8f96c3a9c7d136d764d93c.jpg)

it is even worse than the Estampes, but for fans of Martinu is important to have
It's not a Spitfire, it's a P-47 Thunderbolt.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on April 14, 2015, 12:51:46 AM
The Supraphon boxed set of Neumann's Martinu cycle arrived by post,this morning. I haven't heard it since I was a youngster. I loved it then! I can't wait to open the box!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on April 14, 2015, 01:53:14 AM
The Supraphon boxed set of Neumann's Martinu cycle arrived by post,this morning. I haven't heard it since I was a youngster. I loved it then! I can't wait to open the box!

Possibly the best all-round cycle. I liked the old alien type cover art from the old set. Turnovsky remains my favourite in Symphony No.4.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on April 15, 2015, 01:03:04 AM
Yes,I remember how the original Lp sleeves caught my attention in the record racks in my local library,as an impressionable teenager......back in the late 70's,early 80's,I think?! Supraphon released the cycle in a boxed set,with very dull artwork indeed. No spacey heads on the front. I think I just bought it because it was cheaper,and probably on offer. I still enjoyed the music,though;as I should! The 'Inventions' aren't included with this box. I used to like those;but I don't mind as I like to be able to focus on the symphonies,themselves. I notice they are on a separately released cd,if you want them that much! Nice that recording labels are beginning to realise just how important original cover art is to collectors. In the case of the Martinu symphonies,the alien heads do seem to go well with the strange,almost hallucinatory colours and textures evokes by Martinu's orchestration. Of course,that may be just the nostalgia evoked by the artwork,but I keep picking up the Supraphon box and.........erm,well,you know......coveting it!!! ;D

I also rather like the 'artwork' on the Bis/Jarvi set. I mean,the individual cd releases,not the boxed set! This is the only cycle I have had for the last decade,or so. I think they are very good performances;and let's face it,as an Estonian,Jarvi must have some empathy with the tragedy that inspired some of Martinu's greatest scores. The recordings also benefit from spectacular recordings. There is one particularly explosive moment in the Sixth,which is sonically very exciting indeed! On the downside,they are a little 'boomy' at times. Which leads me straight on to the Neumann/Supraphon cycle,which,as one reviewer observed,sounds even better than ever! In fact,after my ears adjusted to the difference in sound quality (to the Bis set) I started to think how amazingly good these old analogue recordings sound! In fact,to my ears,they have aged remarkably well,and the remastering is superb. Although,to be fair,I always thought the original Lp's sounded pretty good! (The pressings probably let them down!)
As to the performances themselves........there is an intensity and fervour to the music making here,a sense of mystery,excitement,joy and overwhelming tragedy (at various times!) which marks this set out. This will certainly be my choice for a Martinu cycle from now on,as it indeed was in my Lp collecting days. Not that Jarvi should feel too bad. This was a pioneering cycle and I don't think he,or anyone else could be expected to equal that......but this is the cycle I am going to want to listen to most. That said,I admit I do admire Neumann's work as a conductor. I think he is very underrated. For example,I bought his recording of Dvorak's symphonic poems a while back. It barely warrants a mention in reviews of recordings of these works or message posts,but it is one of my favourites now. His Mahler sounds intriguing,too;but my bank balance won't allow it! And yes,the Fifth is usually cheap to buy secondhand;but if I like it I'm going to have an overwhelming urge to buy the rest,aren't I?!! :( ;D

By the way,much as I love Martinu at his best,some of his music seems to go in one year and out the other. The Supraphon set of the Piano Concertos was,for me at least,a crashing disappointment.....and I really DID try!! On the other hand,'The Miracle of our Lady' which often gets dismissed by Martinu enthusiasts has long been a favourite of mine,every since I heard a broadcast of it on R3,back in the 80's,I believe? I have the Supraphon set and I think the performances on it are superb.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on April 15, 2015, 02:32:29 AM
Incidentally,what are your favourite orchestral works by Martinu,other than the symphonies?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brian on April 15, 2015, 03:49:00 AM
Incidentally,what are your favourite orchestral works by Martinu,other than the symphonies?
The Double Violin Concerto (a delightful neo-baroque confection written for my hometown Dallas Symphony), Violin Concerto No. 2 (in a grander tradition), and songs for voice and orchestra, e.g. Nipponari. I have yet to hear Špalíček but it's supposed to be wonderful. And finally, the Toccata label released a CD of the composer's very early works, from when he was heavily influenced by French impressionism and composers like Debussy. "Bohemian impressionism" turns out to be a delight.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dax on April 15, 2015, 04:11:58 AM
Not fully orchestral, but the Concerto for 2 string orchestras. piano and timps.

In recent times, the old Czech Phil/Karel Sejna Supraphon recording has appeared on youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOLuvmOLiHA
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Drasko on April 15, 2015, 04:26:16 AM
Incidentally,what are your favourite orchestral works by Martinu,other than the symphonies?

Les Fresques de Piero della Francesca
The Parables
Double Concerto for Two String Orchestras, Piano, and Timpani
Toccata e Due Canzoni
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 15, 2015, 05:05:17 AM
Les Fresques de Piero della Francesca
The Parables
Double Concerto for Two String Orchestras, Piano, and Timpani
Toccata e Due Canzoni

+ 1

I love all of these as well. 8)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on April 15, 2015, 07:54:20 AM
Les Fresques de Piero della Francesca
The Parables
Double Concerto for Two String Orchestras, Piano, and Timpani
Toccata e Due Canzoni

Don't know the last one but I agree that the other ones are great so +1 from me. Also I like the Memorial to Lidice.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on April 15, 2015, 07:55:27 AM
Les Fresques de Piero della Francesca
The Parables
Double Concerto for Two String Orchestras, Piano, and Timpani
Toccata e Due Canzoni

Yes, this makes a fine "greatest hits" collection.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on April 15, 2015, 11:20:52 AM
Yes,I remember how the original Lp sleeves caught my attention in the record racks in my local library,as an impressionable teenager......back in the late 70's,early 80's,I think?! Supraphon released the cycle in a boxed set,with very dull artwork indeed. No spacey heads on the front. I think I just bought it because it was cheaper,and probably on offer. I still enjoyed the music,though;as I should! The 'Inventions' aren't included with this box. I used to like those;but I don't mind as I like to be able to focus on the symphonies,themselves. I notice they are on a separately released cd,if you want them that much! Nice that recording labels are beginning to realise just how important original cover art is to collectors. In the case of the Martinu symphonies,the alien heads do seem to go well with the strange,almost hallucinatory colours and textures evokes by Martinu's orchestration. Of course,that may be just the nostalgia evoked by the artwork,but I keep picking up the Supraphon box and.........erm,well,you know......coveting it!!! ;D

I also rather like the 'artwork' on the Bis/Jarvi set. I mean,the individual cd releases,not the boxed set! This is the only cycle I have had for the last decade,or so. I think they are very good performances;and let's face it,as an Estonian,Jarvi must have some empathy with the tragedy that inspired some of Martinu's greatest scores. The recordings also benefit from spectacular recordings. There is one particularly explosive moment in the Sixth,which is sonically very exciting indeed! On the downside,they are a little 'boomy' at times. Which leads me straight on to the Neumann/Supraphon cycle,which,as one reviewer observed,sounds even better than ever! In fact,after my ears adjusted to the difference in sound quality (to the Bis set) I started to think how amazingly good these old analogue recordings sound! In fact,to my ears,they have aged remarkably well,and the remastering is superb. Although,to be fair,I always thought the original Lp's sounded pretty good! (The pressings probably let them down!)
As to the performances themselves........there is an intensity and fervour to the music making here,a sense of mystery,excitement,joy and overwhelming tragedy (at various times!) which marks this set out. This will certainly be my choice for a Martinu cycle from now on,as it indeed was in my Lp collecting days. Not that Jarvi should feel too bad. This was a pioneering cycle and I don't think he,or anyone else could be expected to equal that......but this is the cycle I am going to want to listen to most. That said,I admit I do admire Neumann's work as a conductor. I think he is very underrated. For example,I bought his recording of Dvorak's symphonic poems a while back. It barely warrants a mention in reviews of recordings of these works or message posts,but it is one of my favourites now. His Mahler sounds intriguing,too;but my bank balance won't allow it! And yes,the Fifth is usually cheap to buy secondhand;but if I like it I'm going to have an overwhelming urge to buy the rest,aren't I?!! :( ;D

By the way,much as I love Martinu at his best,some of his music seems to go in one year and out the other. The Supraphon set of the Piano Concertos was,for me at least,a crashing disappointment.....and I really DID try!! On the other hand,'The Miracle of our Lady' which often gets dismissed by Martinu enthusiasts has long been a favourite of mine,every since I heard a broadcast of it on R3,back in the 80's,I believe? I have the Supraphon set and I think the performances on it are superb.

Just noticed this interesting post. I haven't listened to any LPs for decades and not even sure that my old Dual turntable with its Ortofen stylus still functions but I can see why vinyl is making a sort-of recovery and there was a tactile enjoyment of that format which is missing from CDs + of course the sleeve design and perhaps a greater warmth of sound quality. It is mainly pop music I think which has seen a vinyl renaissance; I did however notice that Richard Hickox's wonderful performance of Vaughan Williams's 'A London Symphony' has been released by Chandos on LP.

Back to Martinu - I also like the Bryden Thomson symphony cycle which my brother gave me as a birthday present some years ago.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 16, 2015, 05:11:51 AM
Back to Martinu - I also like the Bryden Thomson symphony cycle which my brother gave me as a birthday present some years ago.

Yes, that is a set I need to spend some more time with.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Daverz on April 16, 2015, 10:58:13 AM
Martinu downloads at Supraphonline:

http://www.supraphonline.cz/umelec/165-bohuslav-martinu

I did not see the Thunderbolt CD, though.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 16, 2015, 06:26:58 PM
Incidentally,what are your favourite orchestral works by Martinu,other than the symphonies?

Here are 10 of my favorites (incl. song cycles with orchestra) in no particular order:

Concerto for Double String Orchestra, Piano, and Timpani
Nipponari
Magic Nights
Piano Concerto No. 4 "Incantations"
Oboe Concerto
Sinfonietta La Jolla
The Frescoes of Piero della Francesca
The Parables
Estampes
On Tourne
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on April 16, 2015, 10:56:17 PM
Here are 10 of my favorites (incl. song cycles with orchestra) in no particular order:

Concerto for Double String Orchestra, Piano, and Timpani
Nipponari
Magic Nights
Piano Concerto No. 4 "Incantations"
Oboe Concerto
Sinfonietta La Jolla
The Frescoes of Piero della Francesca
The Parables
Estampes
On Tourne

Very much agree although I don't know the first two or the last one.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on April 16, 2015, 11:53:48 PM
Here are 10 of my favorites (incl. song cycles with orchestra) in no particular order:

Concerto for Double String Orchestra, Piano, and Timpani
Nipponari
Magic Nights
Piano Concerto No. 4 "Incantations"
Oboe Concerto
Sinfonietta La Jolla
The Frescoes of Piero della Francesca
The Parables
Estampes
On Tourne
Right! Those are going on my 'list'. Although,I think I would prefer to collect the Fourth Piano Concerto on it's own. I was disappointed by the Supraphon set. Not that the music was unpleasant. I just got the feeling that Martinu was on 'auto pilot'. In one ear out the other. I really did want to like them,too!! :(
What about Špalíček? It sounds very intriguing;but does it live up to expectations? Of course it includes allot of singing,apparently,so it doesn't really fit here.......but I am curious!!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 17, 2015, 07:04:41 PM
Very much agree although I don't know the first two or the last one.

On Tourne is really a delightful work. Hogwood has a performance of it on Supraphon and it's paired with the 'Paris' ballets: Le Raid merveilleux and La Revue de Cuisine. If you don't own that recording, I highly recommend checking it out.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 17, 2015, 07:07:04 PM
Right! Those are going on my 'list'. Although,I think I would prefer to collect the Fourth Piano Concerto on it's own. I was disappointed by the Supraphon set. Not that the music was unpleasant. I just got the feeling that Martinu was on 'auto pilot'. In one ear out the other. I really did want to like them,too!! :(
What about Špalíček? It sounds very intriguing;but does it live up to expectations? Of course it includes allot of singing,apparently,so it doesn't really fit here.......but I am curious!!

I'm not too fond of Martinu's PCs, but the 4th stood out to me. Špalíček is a good work, although I prefer it's discmate The Spectre's Bride much more. I think Špalíček is a bit overlong with not enough memorable material. It's nice to revisit maybe once a year (if even then).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Daverz on April 17, 2015, 09:30:11 PM
If you don't want the whole thing, Mackerass did a very nice Spalicek Suite on Conifer, with the Double Concerto (the Double Concerto to have is Šejna's, though.)



Of,course the idiots can't get their own artwork to embed. 

The Šejna Double Concero can be downloaded from

http://www.supraphonline.cz/album/978-martinu-dvorak-dvojkoncert-symfonie-c-3-suita-a-dur

It's in very vivid early stereo.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 18, 2015, 05:23:56 AM
If you don't want the whole thing, Mackerass Mackerras did a very nice Spalicek Suite on Conifer, with the Double Concerto (the Double Concerto to have is Šejna's, though.)

Corrected. :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on April 18, 2015, 05:26:36 AM
Thank you very much for your replies. Mirror Image,I love Dvorak,but I actually haven't heard The Spectre's Bride. I have that high on my 'want' list. If only I had money for every recording I want?!! :( ;D I recently spent a huge wad on Roussel and Honegger. More of that in the appropriate threads;but I just can't get enough of their music. You'll be pleased to know I bought some of the recordings from reading your posts!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 18, 2015, 05:28:52 AM
Thank you very much for your replies. Mirror Image,I love Dvorak,but I actually haven't heard The Spectre's Bride. I have that high on my 'want' list. If only I had money for every recording I want?!! :( ;D I recently spent a huge wad on Roussel and Honegger. More of that in the appropriate threads;but I just can't get enough of their music. You'll be pleased to know I bought some of the recordings from reading your posts!

Excellent, cilgwyn. Yeah, there's a lot of recordings that I definitely want to get but just can't afford. Honegger is always a good buy, though. 8)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on April 18, 2015, 05:35:02 AM
Thank you very much for your replies. Mirror Image,I love Dvorak,but I actually haven't heard The Spectre's Bride. I have that high on my 'want' list. If only I had money for every recording I want?!! :( ;D I recently spent a huge wad on Roussel and Honegger. More of that in the appropriate threads;but I just can't get enough of their music. You'll be pleased to know I bought some of the recordings from reading your posts!

I must listen to 'The Spectre's Bride' too. Oddly enough I have a historic recording of it as it is coupled with one of my very favourite works, Novak's 'The Storm', which I can't recommend strongly enough if you don't know it:

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on April 18, 2015, 07:09:07 AM
I am given to understand that the Krombholc is consisered to be one of the finest,if not THE finest recording of this work. Sadly,the set with the delightfully spooky artwork (pictured in your post) is always out of my price range. Surely,a certain well known Amazon seller has a cheap copy in their warehouse somewhere?!! ;D Reissues with less evocative artwork are available at lower prices,however!!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on April 18, 2015, 07:24:54 AM
Indeed,Mirror Image! I recall your posts about Dutoit's Honegger and Roussel. I admit to buying those because they were cheap!! I quite liked what I heard on those cds.....but then I get Karajan and Baudo (also Munch) in Honegger and Cluytens,Martinon,Dervaux (and Prêtre,to some degree) in Roussel and there is simply no comparison.......my mind was blown!! Suddely,I can't stop listening to these composers.....yet,I had those Dutoit recordings for a couple of years and they hardly got played!
What is it about Dutoit? For such a successful conductor so many of his performances seem so bland?!!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 18, 2015, 07:42:22 PM
Indeed,Mirror Image! I recall your posts about Dutoit's Honegger and Roussel. I admit to buying those because they were cheap!! I quite liked what I heard on those cds.....but then I get Karajan and Baudo (also Munch) in Honegger and Cluytens,Martinon,Dervaux (and Prêtre,to some degree) in Roussel and there is simply no comparison.......my mind was blown!! Suddely,I can't stop listening to these composers.....yet,I had those Dutoit recordings for a couple of years and they hardly got played!
What is it about Dutoit? For such a successful conductor so many of his performances seem so bland?!!

I don't think Dutoit does well with darker, more turbulent music. He's outstanding with Ravel and Debussy for example, but you give him music that requires an acidic edge to it and he pretty much smoothes it over. The surface is always lovely with Dutoit, but I don't feel his heart was truly in Honegger's or Roussel's music, although I have to hand it to him, he did do a good job in Roussel's Symphony No. 1 which is essentially an Impressionistic work anyway.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: cilgwyn on April 19, 2015, 02:25:29 AM
Agreed! I was going to say that I'm quite happy with his performance of Roussel's First. I think you've nailed Dutoit pretty well,there!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on August 03, 2015, 11:46:13 AM
Any news on the Martinů front? It seems I'm heading into another phase, which when I listen to one work of his, I end up listening to 20 of them. :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: ZauberdrachenNr.7 on August 03, 2015, 12:24:36 PM
Any news on the Martinů front? It seems I'm heading into another phase, which when I listen to one work of his, I end up listening to 20 of them. :)

I have that proclivity, too, so in all civility, don't get me started.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on August 03, 2015, 12:53:20 PM
I have that proclivity, too, so in all civility, don't get me started.

Yeah, once you turn the tap on, it's hard to turn it off. :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on August 03, 2015, 01:36:58 PM
Well, I resisted a Martinů phase by making a detour with Nielsen and Elgar. 8)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brian on August 03, 2015, 02:01:11 PM
Any news on the Martinů front? It seems I'm heading into another phase, which when I listen to one work of his, I end up listening to 20 of them. :)

Yes, I just wrote a review of the fab new BIS CD with violist Maxim Rysanov, compiling much of his viola music (Rhapsody-Concerto with BBC/Belohlavek, viola and piano sonata, duos with violin).

The works on the disc all date from post-WWII, and the Concerto and Sonata in particular are in a very similar autumnal lyrical vein. Both in two moderately-paced movements, too.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on August 03, 2015, 02:04:48 PM
Yes, I just wrote a review of the fab new BIS CD with violist Maxim Rysanov, compiling much of his viola music (Rhapsody-Concerto with BBC/Belohlavek, viola and piano sonata, duos with violin).

The works on the disc all date from post-WWII, and the Concerto and Sonata in particular are in a very similar autumnal lyrical vein. Both in two moderately-paced movements, too.

Funny you mention this, Brian. I had just bought this recording a bit earlier. 8) Good to hear that you enjoyed it.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Rinaldo on April 03, 2016, 03:30:32 PM
Just returned from a production of Julietta at the National Theatre in Prague. Such an intriguing work! I especially loved the 'memories salesman' and the whole third act, set in a 'bureau of dreams'.

(http://i64.tinypic.com/2n8c6pw.jpg) (http://i66.tinypic.com/2608qiu.jpg)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 05, 2016, 09:35:45 AM
Saturday's concert:

Grant Park Music Festival
Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus
Carlos Kalmar, conductor

Dvořák: The Golden Spinning Wheel
Martinů: The Epic of Gilgamesh

Admittedly Gilgamesh isn't a Top 10 Martinu work for me, but it's pretty spectacular, and this was probably my only chance ever to hear it live. In any case, it was a really impressive performance, with great drama at the major climactic points, such as the combat between Gilgamesh and Enkidu, and the final poignant visit to the underworld.

All the forces involved played very well - especially impressive, as I doubt any of them had performed this work before. The English text was used rather than the Czech one, probably an intelligent concession.

As usual at our wonderful lakeside free concert festival, thousands of people came out for this obscure, demanding piece and gave it a fine ovation at the end. Sort of makes you optimistic for the future of classical music, eh?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 05, 2016, 09:38:44 AM
Cool!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: North Star on July 05, 2016, 09:48:44 AM
Saturday's concert:

Grant Park Music Festival
Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus
Carlos Kalmar, conductor

Dvořák: The Golden Spinning Wheel
Martinů: The Epic of Gilgamesh

Admittedly Gilgamesh isn't a Top 10 Martinu work for me, but it's pretty spectacular, and this was probably my only chance ever to hear it live. In any case, it was a really impressive performance, with great drama at the major climactic points, such as the combat between Gilgamesh and Enkidu, and the final poignant visit to the underworld.

All the forces involved played very well - especially impressive, as I doubt any of them had performed this work before. The English text was used rather than the Czech one, probably an intelligent concession.

As usual at our wonderful lakeside free concert festival, thousands of people came out for this obscure, demanding piece and gave it a fine ovation at the end. Sort of makes you optimistic for the future of classical music, eh?

Very intelligent, except that it's not a concession:
Quote
Martinů wrote his text in English, based on the translation of in hexameters by Reginald Campbell Thompson, The Epic of Gilgamish (1928),[3] in his own style, choosing freely what would fit his music best.[4] Martinů would have preferred to compose it to a text in Czech and, according to his biographer Miloš Šafránek, he regretted hearing too late about the recent Czech translation of the Epic by poet Lubor Matouš.[5] Later, Ferdinand Pujman translated Martinů's text on the basis of Matouš' work for what became Epos o Gilgamešovi.[6]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Epic_of_Gilgamesh_(Martinů)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 05, 2016, 09:54:48 AM
Intelligent choice, then. The only recordings of this work that I'm aware of are in Czech, so I assumed that was the "default" version.

Someone really ought to record the English version.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: North Star on July 05, 2016, 09:58:10 AM
Intelligent choice, then. The only recordings of this work that I'm aware of are in Czech, so I assumed that was the "default" version.

Someone really ought to record the English version.
It certainly was a surprise to me too, when I learned of this. And yes, there should be a recording of the English version. Belohlavek with the BBC forces perhaps.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: not edward on July 05, 2016, 03:44:35 PM
Intelligent choice, then. The only recordings of this work that I'm aware of are in Czech, so I assumed that was the "default" version.

Someone really ought to record the English version.
There's a weird hybrid version under Belohlavek with English narration and Czech singing. Given that this is of a Proms performance with the BBC Symphony and Chorus, I think this was an opportunity missed.

I'd like to have a version with the Czech Philharmonic. Both of the commercial recordings are with lesser orchestras (the Prague Philharmonic under Belohlavek and the Slovak Philharmonic under Kosler), and it shows.

If I had to pick from them, I'd take Kosler hands down. It's depressing that a conductor of his ability was reduced to making recordings for cheaper-than-Naxos labels in later life.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: jidlomonster on August 21, 2016, 01:21:43 AM
For those who don't already know, Toccata Classics has recently released an extreme Martinů rarity.  Volume 2 of the Early Orchestral Works series includes the ballet The Shadow.   Martinů wrote the ballet almost 100 years ago.  It has never been performed live and this is its first commercial recording.   You can read details and hear some of the music here:

https://toccataclassics.com/product/martinu-early-orchestral-v2/ (https://toccataclassics.com/product/martinu-early-orchestral-v2/)

I was heavily involved in the preparation of this disc and its predecessor.  If you are interested in more information, you might find my three-part blog for Toccata Classics worth a read.  The first part tells how I came to write a book on Martinů, the second describes the first Early Orchestral works CD (with the wonderful Little Dance Suite) and the last one (slightly technical) describes the work needed to prepare The Shadow for recording.  I've included some musical illustrations of what cacophony results if you don't edit the composer's original manuscript!  Here is the first part of the blog:

https://toccataclassics.com/rediscovering-early-martinu-1/ (https://toccataclassics.com/rediscovering-early-martinu-1/)

I hope you enjoy this new recording!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: SurprisedByBeauty on March 24, 2017, 04:50:25 PM
I'm making this a Martinu day, listening-wise. Started with Neumann 5 & 6

(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C7tJdc9W4AEzRs2.jpg)
#morninglistening to #Martinů w/@CzechPhil:http://ift.tt/2mzNX0A
A @surprisedbeauty compos… http://ift.tt/2nwvBgc
(http://ift.tt/2mzNX0A)

then moved on to the Third with Ancerl, Valek, Fagan, Belohlavek CzPO/Supraphon and Fourth with Valek, Fagan, Belohlavek CzPO/Supraphon and Belohlavek BBCSO.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on March 24, 2017, 05:29:25 PM
I'm making this a Martinu day, listening-wise. Started with Neumann 5 & 6

then moved on to the Third with Ancerl, Valek, Fagan, Belohlavek CzPO/Supraphon and Fourth with Valek, Fagan, Belohlavek CzPO/Supraphon and Belohlavek BBCSO.

That's a lot of symphony listening. I think my avatar may just crack a grin. I have 3/4ths of Neumann's cycle and I've always enjoyed it. If you're continuing on with your Martinu marathon may I suggest his string quartets? They just might be my favorite Martinu, with the Panocha's leading the pack.



Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on March 24, 2017, 07:51:49 PM
That's a lot of symphony listening. I think my avatar may just crack a grin. I have 3/4ths of Neumann's cycle and I've always enjoyed it. If you're continuing on with your Martinu marathon may I suggest his string quartets? They just might be my favorite Martinu, with the Panocha's leading the pack.





I really ought to get my Martinu SQ set out now that you mention it, DD. I seem to recall enjoying these SQs a lot and the Panocha’s is the set I own.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on March 24, 2017, 10:36:00 PM
I really ought to get my Martinu SQ set out now that you mention it, DD. I seem to recall enjoying these SQs a lot and the Panocha’s is the set I own.

Yeah, I went through a Martinu string quartet phase a year or so ago. It might be happening again.

Other quartet recordings I enjoy are from the Martinu Quartet (Naxos), Emperor Quartet (BIS), and Kocian Quartet (Praga).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: SurprisedByBeauty on March 25, 2017, 03:38:04 AM
That's a lot of symphony listening. I think my avatar may just crack a grin. I have 3/4ths of Neumann's cycle and I've always enjoyed it. If you're continuing on with your Martinu marathon may I suggest his string quartets? They just might be my favorite Martinu, with the Panocha's leading the pack.


Love the Panocha set, which I have alongside my (currently inaccessible) Stamitz set which I hold in equal esteem. Alas, I won't continue with chamber music today; today will comprise symphonies 5 & 6. It's basically an extensive refresher course for a bit I'm writing about the complete symphony sets. Which, incidentally, I should ask you: Neumann, Jaervi, Thomson, Fagen, Valek, Belo-BBC are the only complete ones, correct? Plus three that never got beyond four symphonies (Belo-Cz-Supra, Flor, Rozh). I know why Belo's earlier sets were aborted, but not why Flor and Rozh didn't pull through; if there was a reason beyond horrid sales/money. Do you, by chance?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on March 25, 2017, 05:24:32 AM
I just purchased this having enjoyed Janacek's suites from his operas so much (thanks to a kind and generous fellow member  :)) I missed the opportunity to see Juliette staged in London decades ago and have always rather regretted it so I'm hoping that I will enjoy this CD:

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Spineur on March 25, 2017, 05:29:12 AM
I just purchased this having enjoyed Janacek's suites from his operas so much (thanks to a kind and generous fellow member  :)) I missed the opportunity to see Juliette staged in London decades ago and have always rather regretted it so I'm hoping that I will enjoy this CD:


Although it is only excerpts, it is very good.  Much better than Ariane, which was composed roughly at the same time.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on March 25, 2017, 05:48:52 AM
Yeah, I went through a Martinu string quartet phase a year or so ago. It might be happening again.

Other quartet recordings I enjoy are from the Martinu Quartet (Naxos), Emperor Quartet (BIS), and Kocian Quartet (Praga).

I haven’t heard any of the other SQ recordings, but now you’re tempting me, DD! ;D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on March 25, 2017, 05:51:12 AM
I just purchased this having enjoyed Janacek's suites from his operas so much (thanks to a kind and generous fellow member  :)) I missed the opportunity to see Juliette staged in London decades ago and have always rather regretted it so I'm hoping that I will enjoy this CD:



That is a great disc, Jeffrey. I hope you enjoy it. It’s an interesting disc, too, since it contains the orchestral suite of Julietta along with Three Fragments from the opera. I wish Mackerras had conducted more Martinu and recorded this opera in it’s complete form.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on March 25, 2017, 06:55:40 AM
Thanks John and Spineur - the CD has arrived now so I shall really look forward to hearing it following your recommendation.
 :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on March 25, 2017, 07:09:54 AM
Thanks John and Spineur - the CD has arrived now so I shall really look forward to hearing it following your recommendation.
 :)

 8)

IIRC, that particular recording has a nice presentation, too (nice slipcover, booklet).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Drasko on March 25, 2017, 08:38:27 AM
It's basically an extensive refresher course for a bit I'm writing about the complete symphony sets. Which, incidentally, I should ask you: Neumann, Jaervi, Thomson, Fagen, Valek, Belo-BBC are the only complete ones, correct? Plus three that never got beyond four symphonies (Belo-Cz-Supra, Flor, Rozh). I know why Belo's earlier sets were aborted, but not why Flor and Rozh didn't pull through; if there was a reason beyond horrid sales/money. Do you, by chance?

The Flor cycle was late 80s East German production, maybe orchestra defected before they could finish. :laugh:

If you have time maybe you could write a bit about all Martinu symphony recordings. Once I was curious how many stand alone (non cycle/aborted cycle) recordings of various symphonies there are, and came up with not more than about twenty, of which only about dozen studio.

1 ancerl, weller
2 p.jarvi
3 neumann, ancerl, sejna
4 turnovsky, kubelik, tennstedt, weller (x2), ansermet, belohlavek
5 ancerl (x3), whitney, trhlik
6 munch (x2) ancerl, neumann, kout
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: SurprisedByBeauty on March 25, 2017, 08:59:25 AM
The Flor cycle was late 80s East German production, maybe orchestra defected before they could finish. :laugh:

If you have time maybe you could write a bit about all Martinu symphony recordings. Once I was curious how many stand alone (non cycle/aborted cycle) recordings of various symphonies there are, and came up with not more than about twenty, of which only about dozen studio.

1 ancerl, weller
2 p.jarvi
3 neumann, ancerl, sejna
4 turnovsky, kubelik, tennstedt, weller (x2), ansermet, belohlavek
5 ancerl (x3), whitney, trhlik
6 munch (x2) ancerl, neumann, kout

That's not a lot, indeed. I think you're onto why Flor's cycle wasn't finished; not defected, obviously... but simply the upheaval and subsequent contractual confusion. The recordings had been made, after all, by VEB Schallplatten. Also Flor left in 1991.

Interesting that there really are only so few recordings of these symphonies.

I know that the "Czech cycle" pre-Neumann was Sejna, Turnovsky, Ancerl, Ancerl 3-6. Is that actually correct?) There simply were no recordings of 1 & 2 in the catalogue until Neumann recorded them? (The Ancerl is live and hadn't been issued back then, I reckon.)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Spineur on March 25, 2017, 09:35:39 AM
Since there seems to be a sudden interest in Martinu's vocal works, I would like to draw your attention to his 4 cantatas released last year by supraphon which were among my 2016 best



They were composed in the last 5 years of his life at a time he got re-interested in his roots and Moravian musical traditions.  Although I like many Martinu's works a lot, these cantatas are among my favorites.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: North Star on March 25, 2017, 10:02:21 AM
Since there seems to be a sudden interest in Martinu's vocal works, I would like to draw your attention to his 4 cantatas released last year by supraphon which were among my 2016 best



They were composed in the last 5 years of his life at a time he got re-interested in his roots and Moravian musical traditions.  Although I like many Martinu's works a lot, these cantatas are among my favorites.

All marvelous works - I have them in these two superb releases - which makes me wonder how that new recording compares..


Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: aesthetic on March 25, 2017, 10:48:36 AM
I've discovered a lot of great Martinů works recently. These include:

Violin Concerto No. 2, H. 293
Sonata for cello & piano No. 2, H. 286
Sonatina for 2 violins and piano, H. 198
Harpsichord Concerto, H. 246
Oboe Concerto, H. 353
Piano Trio No. 2, H. 327
Piano Trio No. 3, H. 332
Butterflies and Birds of Paradise, H. 127


As well as:

Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orchestra, H. 292

Which is a truly brilliant work. I recommend this relatively recent recording (note that on Spotify, it seems that the tracks are mislabelled as the Poulenc concerto, and vice versa. So to listen to either concerto, you'd have to play the tracks relating to the other!)

(http://www.heraldscotland.com/resources/images/3839806.jpg)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Drasko on March 25, 2017, 12:35:57 PM
I know that the "Czech cycle" pre-Neumann was Sejna, Turnovsky, Ancerl, Ancerl 3-6. Is that actually correct?) There simply were no recordings of 1 & 2 in the catalogue until Neumann recorded them? (The Ancerl is live and hadn't been issued back then, I reckon.)

I believe it should be. I've definitely seen Supraphon LPs of Turnovsky 4th and Ancerl's studio 5th & 6th, and I presume Sejna's 3rd was available pre-Neumann as well though I've never seen an actual LP of it. Kubelik's 1948 recording of the 4th could have been also available unless it was politically unacceptable. I'd be very surprised if that live Ancerl 1st was available in any form before the Multisonic CD. No released 1st or 2nd before Neumann to the best of my knowledge.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on March 25, 2017, 02:32:04 PM
If you have time maybe you could write a bit about all Martinu symphony recordings. Once I was curious how many stand alone (non cycle/aborted cycle) recordings of various symphonies there are, and came up with not more than about twenty, of which only about dozen studio.

1 ancerl, weller
2 p.jarvi
3 neumann, ancerl, sejna
4 turnovsky, kubelik, tennstedt, weller (x2), ansermet, belohlavek
5 ancerl (x3), whitney, trhlik
6 munch (x2) ancerl, neumann, kout

That's not a lot, indeed.

Interesting that there really are only so few recordings of these symphonies.

Not a lot to choose from indeed. Here's a rundown of individual commercial releases I managed to dig up. Some appear to have never left LP land (but I could be wrong) and some seem pretty localized to Czechoslovakia, no surprise, I suppose.

And for unknown reasons all but one are of the sixth symphony!!

Sixth symphony rundown:

Nohejl, Moravian PO of Olomouc (LP), here's the link (https://www.amazon.com/Martinu-Symphony-Krejci-Fourteen-Variations/dp/B00MK9EJV0/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_img_5?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=MPZYBY4SZD4A19XZDKGN):


(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81KwLtmqUNL._SL1500_.jpg)




Bialoguski, New Philharmonic O (LP), here's the link (https://www.amazon.com/Martinu-Fantaisies-Symphoniques-Philharmonic-Bialoguski/dp/B004AWUNQK/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_img_4?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=P8NH94B91QY8S4HJHE5J):


(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91YUraY8mcL._SL1500_.jpg)




Ladislav Slovak, Prague SO, here's the link: (https://www.amazon.com/Symphony-Angel-Rubbish-Heap-Choral/dp/B000004AL6/ref=sr_1_252?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1490475570&sr=1-252&keywords=martinu+symphonies)


(http://static.qobuz.com/images/covers/20/73/8596981137320_600.jpg)



A live Belohlavek:





Fifth symphony, Robert Whitney, Louisville O:


Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on March 25, 2017, 02:43:05 PM
I haven’t heard any of the other SQ recordings, but now you’re tempting me, DD! ;D

I'll be looking for your purchases in the "Purchases" thread! ;D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brian on March 25, 2017, 02:48:12 PM
The Flor cycle was late 80s East German production, maybe orchestra defected before they could finish. :laugh:

If you have time maybe you could write a bit about all Martinu symphony recordings. Once I was curious how many stand alone (non cycle/aborted cycle) recordings of various symphonies there are, and came up with not more than about twenty, of which only about dozen studio.

1 ancerl, weller
2 p.jarvi
3 neumann, ancerl, sejna
4 turnovsky, kubelik, tennstedt, weller (x2), ansermet, belohlavek
5 ancerl (x3), whitney, trhlik
6 munch (x2) ancerl, neumann, kout
It amazes me that No. 2 is the least recorded of the symphonies, since it is the cheeriest and arguably most "populist" - also the most resembling a true meeting of American and Czech musical styles. If any of the symphonies were to become a concert hall favorite (vs. a GMG favorite or a performers'), I would guess the Second; indeed, it's still one of mine (just behind No. 4).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brian on March 25, 2017, 02:51:57 PM
I haven’t heard any of the other SQ recordings, but now you’re tempting me, DD! ;D
Naxos also has a great series of cello sonatas, piano quintets, flute chamber music, and other delightful works.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 25, 2017, 05:59:40 PM
Naxos also has a great series of cello sonatas, piano quintets, flute chamber music, and other delightful works.

I can certainly vouch for the piano quintets.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on March 25, 2017, 08:50:46 PM
Piano Trio No. 2, H. 327
Piano Trio No. 3, H. 332

Who do you like in the piano trios?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on March 25, 2017, 09:08:53 PM
Naxos also has a great series of cello sonatas, piano quintets, flute chamber music, and other delightful works.

I’ve got the Naxos recording of the piano quintets. For the cello sonatas, I have Steven Isserlis and Peter Evans, but I enjoyed their recording so much that I haven’t bothered looking for any other performances. There’s many fine recordings of Martinu’s chamber music not just limited to the Naxos label. Whoops! Scratch that last part out in case 71 dB reads it. ;) ;D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: SurprisedByBeauty on March 27, 2017, 08:48:59 AM
(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C7tJdc9W4AEzRs2.jpg)
#morninglistening to #Martinů w/@CzechPhil:http://ift.tt/2mzNX0A
A @surprisedbeauty compos… http://ift.tt/2nwvBgc
(http://ift.tt/2mzNX0A)
(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C73bduyXQAAuxmn.jpg)
#morninglistening to #Martinů w/@CRozhlas:http://a-fwd.to/22LrcO5
on @supraphonCZ. A @surp… http://ift.tt/2mEqMSB
(http://a-fwd.to/22LrcO5)
(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C77_3QTW4AAyKoZ.jpg)
#morninglistening to #Martinů w/@BBCSO:http://a-fwd.to/7obrG8 
@surprisedbeauty composer #M… http://ift.tt/2n9Dq7v
(http://a-fwd.to/7obrG8)




Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: SurprisedByBeauty on March 27, 2017, 09:13:37 AM
It amazes me that No. 2 is the least recorded of the symphonies, since it is the cheeriest and arguably most "populist" - also the most resembling a true meeting of American and Czech musical styles. If any of the symphonies were to become a concert hall favorite (vs. a GMG favorite or a performers'), I would guess the Second; indeed, it's still one of mine (just behind No. 4).

Also: Rozhdestvensky recorded 2, 3 (http://a-fwd.to/37X3By8), 5 & 6 (http://a-fwd.to/5q0ycNo) (oop) - but not 1 & 4, I think. From broadcasts there's also a Valek 6th (http://a-fwd.to/5zWWMbJ). To my surprise: Ansermet has recorded the Fourth! (Oh, right, we've covered that above.)
Trhlik seems to have recorded not just the 5th but also the 4th (http://a-fwd.to/2KM7r8m).
In any case. Wow. How many major composers are there - and Martinu is surely among the minor major composers - where we can actually count all the recordings of the symphonies with relative ease.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brian on March 27, 2017, 09:18:28 AM
Who do you like in the piano trios?
NOT the Naxos recording - a rare dud (on the level of technical playing skills). I haven't heard any others, though.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brian on March 27, 2017, 09:19:42 AM
I’ve got the Naxos recording of the piano quintets. For the cello sonatas, I have Steven Isserlis and Peter Evans, but I enjoyed their recording so much that I haven’t bothered looking for any other performances. There’s many fine recordings of Martinu’s chamber music not just limited to the Naxos label. Whoops! Scratch that last part out in case 71 dB reads it. ;) ;D
I have a cool cello sonata CD where Steven Isserlis "remade" his recording, along with Sibelius' "Malinconia" and a brand-new sonata by the pianist, Olli Mustonen. Really enjoy all that music.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: North Star on March 27, 2017, 09:28:50 AM
I have a cool cello sonata CD where Steven Isserlis "remade" his recording, along with Sibelius' "Malinconia" and a brand-new sonata by the pianist, Olli Mustonen. Really enjoy all that music.
And I have this one (review (http://www.juilliard.edu/journal/cpe-bach-and-martinu-two-paths-cello-sonata) by Bruce) - good stuff. Should revisit it, actually.

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Spineur on March 27, 2017, 09:50:32 AM
I have a cool cello sonata CD where Steven Isserlis "remade" his recording, along with Sibelius' "Malinconia" and a brand-new sonata by the pianist, Olli Mustonen. Really enjoy all that music.
I bought it too and enjoys the Mustonen and Malinconia breaks in between.  Actually, in the cello repertoire, Martinu sonatas do not stand out as for example the Kodaly solo sonata.  Nice but not prime Martinu.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: North Star on March 27, 2017, 10:16:49 AM
Actually, in the cello repertoire, Martinu sonatas do not stand out as for example the Kodaly solo sonata.  Nice but not prime Martinu.
To be fair, not many works stand out like the Kodály!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Camphy on March 27, 2017, 11:16:40 AM
Who do you like in the piano trios?

This one is excellent:

(http://i.prs.to/t_350/99925419721.jpg)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on March 27, 2017, 12:26:06 PM
This one is excellent:

(http://i.prs.to/t_350/99925419721.jpg)

That’s the one I own. I haven’t heard it (yet). I’ve heard it’s quite good, though.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on March 27, 2017, 03:53:12 PM
NOT the Naxos recording - a rare dud (on the level of technical playing skills). I haven't heard any others, though.

Cool, thanks, Brian.

This one is excellent:

(http://i.prs.to/t_350/99925419721.jpg)

Awesome! I'll check it out. Thanks.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Turner on June 19, 2017, 07:54:52 AM
Martinu: Cello works / Vandra, Goez  / Opus CD

I really like the superb Accent recording of the cello sonatas with Dieltiens & Groslot.

So this one looked interesting - 77 min, with 4 lesser known cycles for cello &  piano - 6 Pastorales, 4 Nocturnes, Suite Miniature & 7 Arabesques.
Unfortunately, it is not very well played, which doesn´t add to the appeal of some rather plain, and seemingly boring works.

Not recommended, only for die-hard completists - and other recordings are probably better.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brian on June 19, 2017, 08:15:57 AM
Listening to the Naxos recording of the Nocturnes & Pastorales for cello and piano as we speak. It's well played, but these are well out of the way, as far as Martinu works go. Nice lyrical moments and charming enough, and some of the individual pieces are quite nice (Pastorale No. 5) but nothing essential - I doubt I'd seek multiple recordings.

These are much more conventionally romantic and less energetic than the typical Martinu.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Parsifal on June 19, 2017, 08:35:32 AM
Listening to the Naxos recording of the Nocturnes & Pastorales for cello and piano as we speak. It's well played, but these are well out of the way, as far as Martinu works go. Nice lyrical moments and charming enough, and some of the individual pieces are quite nice (Pastorale No. 5) but nothing essential - I doubt I'd seek multiple recordings.

These are much more conventionally romantic and less energetic than the typical Martinu.

Maybe you're saying that because of a lack-luster performance. Just sayin'.
:)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brian on June 19, 2017, 08:57:29 AM
Maybe you're saying that because of a lack-luster performance. Just sayin'.
:)
That is also true. I'll try again when Queyras records it!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on June 19, 2017, 09:19:52 AM
I am singularly not a fan of BM's Cello Sonatas,... love the Piano Trios. I have the Angell on ASV as compare. And then the Duo for violin and cello, and then the mature Sextet. But, not so much on the Violin Music, or the Piano Music. The mature Piano Quintet, yes, much of what lies around it, eh.

And I could never get into his String Quartets, even the last one. Yea, I don't know what's up with that...


Anyhow, alas, now just another Composer that Stravinsky is ruining for me, lol ::)...
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on June 19, 2017, 03:10:00 PM
And I could never get into his String Quartets, even the last one. Yea, I don't know what's up with that...

Interesting...the SQs are some of my favorite M.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) PC 4
Post by: snyprrr on June 19, 2017, 05:18:05 PM
Piano Concerto No.3
Piano Concerto No.4


No.3 is the BigOne, almost a half hour, and I didn't make it that far into the 1st before I skipped it for No.4, which immediately piqued my ears with its mysterious, chirpy opening, sounding a lot like Janacek, very refreshing and "wind through pine trees on the mountain slopes at night" or mid-day?

I've only heard No.5 once, can't remember which I liked better, 4 or 5... checking...
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on September 17, 2017, 03:01:09 AM
New release - great cover art too:


One of his greatest works I think.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: SymphonicAddict on September 17, 2017, 01:00:05 PM
New release - great cover art too:


One of his greatest works I think.

Sure it is. I like the thematic about Mesopotamian mythology, and Martinu made an incredible adaptation of those texts. It's one of my favorite works of him.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on September 19, 2017, 04:46:41 AM
This is very good. The clincher for me was the inclusion of 'The Frescoes of Piero della Francesca' as well as piano concertos 2 and 4 and a very enjoyable, Bach-like Overture from 1953. The great discovery for me here was Piano Concerto 4 'Incantations' easily IMHO the greatest of Martinu's piano concertos. I had heard it before as its coupled with Turnovsky's legendary recording of Symphony 4 (I increasingly sound like the classical music enthusiast in Private Eye's 'Great Bores of the World' cartoon - but never mind). It had, however, never affected me as much as on this  recording. I also like music inspired by paintings or art works - Respighi's 'Boticelli Pictures' and 'Church Windows' come to mind as well as John McCabe's 'Chagall Windows' and Reger's 'Bocklin Pictures' which includes 'The Isle of the Dead', better known in Rachmaninov's great work. I had to play 'Incantations' over again as soon as I heard it.

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on September 19, 2017, 05:26:20 AM
That’s an excellent disc, Jeffrey. No arguments from me. I also agree that Piano Concerto No. 4, “Incantations” is Martinů’s best piano concerto. I should revisit The Frescoes of Piero della Francesca and play it in sequence with The Parables and Estampes, which make up a sort of triptych.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on September 19, 2017, 05:38:12 AM
That’s an excellent disc, Jeffrey. No arguments from me. I also agree that Piano Concerto No. 4, “Incantations” is Martinů’s best piano concertos. I should revisit The Frescoes of Piero della Francesca and play it in sequence with The Parables and Estampes, which make up a sort of triptych.
All great works John - especially 'Parables' after St Exupery - one of my favourite writers. 'Incantations' has more depth I think than the other PCs. I find it to be an engaging, moving, eloquent and powerful work.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on September 19, 2017, 05:44:46 AM
All great works John - especially 'Parables' after St Exupery - one of my favourite writers. 'Incantations' has more depth I think than the other PCs. I find it to be an engaging, moving, eloquent and powerful work.

 8) If you had to pick just one Martinů symphony, which one would it be?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on September 19, 2017, 06:21:43 AM
All great works John - especially 'Parables' after St Exupery - one of my favourite writers. 'Incantations' has more depth I think than the other PCs. I find it to be an engaging, moving, eloquent and powerful work.

i JUUUST WAS checking out PC5, the 'Fantasia Concertante', to directly compare it to the really mystery filled No.4, 'Incantations'. Well, No.5 goes back to more "normal" music, with the exception of a wonderful cascade of chromatics in the slow movement. 'Incantations' is BY FAR Martinu's most perfectly realized PC,... as an extension of the Janacek soundworld.

It does have a lot of the same feeling as...

8) If you had to pick just one Martinů symphony, which one would it be?

No.6,... OF COURSE! Unless you count the 'Fresques' and 'Parables' as Symphonies 7-8...
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on September 19, 2017, 06:24:15 AM
i JUUUST WAS checking out PC5, the 'Fantasia Concertante', to directly compare it to the really mystery filled No.4, 'Incantations'. Well, No.5 goes back to more "normal" music, with the exception of a wonderful cascade of chromatics in the slow movement. 'Incantations' is BY FAR Martinu's most perfectly realized PC,... as an extension of the Janacek soundworld.

It does have a lot of the same feeling as...

No.6,... OF COURSE! Unless you count the 'Fresques' and 'Parables' as Symphonies 7-8...

Yep, the 6th is indeed a fine one. My vote goes to the 4th.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on September 19, 2017, 11:53:02 AM
8) If you had to pick just one Martinů symphony, which one would it be?
No.4 definitely and probably in Turnovsky's old performance, which was my first contact with Martinu on LP, having heard the work on the radio.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on September 20, 2017, 07:13:25 PM
No.4 definitely and probably in Turnovsky's old performance, which was my first contact with Martinu on LP, having heard the work on the radio.

I’ve got that Turnovsky performance (somewhere), I must give it a listen soon.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: kyjo on September 20, 2017, 09:39:57 PM
8) If you had to pick just one Martinů symphony, which one would it be?

I'd have to go with no. 1 at the moment. It's hard to imagine a more joyous, uplifting and colorful piece. The finale, especially, is thrillingly life-affirming.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: pjme on September 20, 2017, 11:23:19 PM
All great works John - especially 'Parables' after St Exupery - one of my favourite writers. 'Incantations' has more depth I think than the other PCs. I find it to be an engaging, moving, eloquent and powerful work.

I bought this double cd some years ago and find the performances excellent. I would love to hear the Palenicek version again (ca 1964 -with Brno/Pinkas).

(https://pxhst.co/avaxhome/5f/e3/000ee35f_medium.jpeg)


https://www.youtube.com/v/laI5pnq5X7g

P.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on September 25, 2017, 06:49:35 AM
I bought this double cd some years ago and find the performances excellent. I would love to hear the Palenicek version again (ca 1964 -with Brno/Pinkas).

(https://pxhst.co/avaxhome/5f/e3/000ee35f_medium.jpeg)

P.

How do these performances compare with the ones in this set? -

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61wg98PSXZL.jpg)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on September 25, 2017, 08:31:31 AM
I bought this double cd some years ago and find the performances excellent. I would love to hear the Palenicek version again (ca 1964 -with Brno/Pinkas).

(https://pxhst.co/avaxhome/5f/e3/000ee35f_medium.jpeg)


https://www.youtube.com/v/laI5pnq5X7g

P.

I liked that old French series. The Vaughan Williams one had bizarre accompanying notes I remember.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: pjme on September 25, 2017, 08:47:31 AM
The Firkusny set is not complete and I'm not familiar with the Leichner performances. So... cannot give you much info.

I listened to Leichner on YT - he is quite a bit slower than Firkusny : 19.40 / 17.83 .

On YT Ivo Kahanek/Behlolavek clock in at 19.40 aswell.

I discovered that Palenicek/Pinkas /Brno is now on YT. Recorded in ca 1960-1964 . Still sounding quite good. Timing: 19.07. Lovely performance.

https://www.youtube.com/v/xsnsbGemvlE

It is Jiri Pinkas who conducts the Brno PhO.

P.

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: SymphonicAddict on September 26, 2017, 02:23:14 PM
I've been playing all his piano concertos and symphonies recently. Wow! Because of such spectacular pieces and that unique voice is that I admire so much Martinu: works full of life, with much drama, tension, lots of creativity, brilliant orchestration... No work is dull or boring. It's incredible how prolific he was, composing in every genre/form. Everything is engaging. Fortunately, he broke away from Serialism and he knew to be original with what he achieved.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: kyjo on September 26, 2017, 03:40:03 PM
I've been playing all his piano concertos and symphonies recently. Wow! Because of such spectacular pieces and that unique voice is that I admire so much Martinu: works full of life, with much drama, tension, lots of creativity, brilliant orchestration... No work is dull or boring. It's incredible how prolific he was, composing in every genre/form. Everything is engaging. Fortunately, he broke away from Serialism and he knew to be original with what he achieved.

I heartily agree :) In addition to his symphonies and piano concertos, I also adore his two spirited and endlessly lyrical cello concertos, which are among the finest works in the genre IMO. Sadly, they are ignored by most cellists today.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: SymphonicAddict on September 27, 2017, 02:38:00 PM
I heartily agree :) In addition to his symphonies and piano concertos, I also adore his two spirited and endlessly lyrical cello concertos, which are among the finest works in the genre IMO. Sadly, they are ignored by most cellists today.

Certainly, I find them so appealing, fun, almost carefree. The 2nd one is kind of intimate, more reflexive (especially the first two movements). I enjoy them largely. I'm listening to his violin concertos in a while. I intuit they will blow my mind  :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on September 27, 2017, 10:37:17 PM
Certainly, I find them so appealing, fun, almost carefree. The 2nd one is kind of intimate, more reflexive (especially the first two movements). I enjoy them largely. I'm listening to his violin concertos in a while. I intuit they will blow my mind  :)
I hardly know his concertos at all apart from the one for double string orchestra etc. I have a Chandos CD with the cello concertos so must play that one soon. Interesting discussion.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: pjme on September 27, 2017, 11:15:31 PM
I've sung the praises of Martinu's vocal music before, from the late Romantic exuberance of the Czech rhapsody (1918) to Kytice (Bouquet of flowers), Gilgamesh, the Greek Passion.

This short opera is totaly new to me, " Hlas lesa - rozhlasová opera o 1 dějství (1935)

The Voice of the Forest - radio-opera in 1 act (1935)
Soloists of Prague Philharmonic, Chamber chorus
con. Jiří Bělohlávek
Recording 1999 nahrávka Supraphon, sólisté: Helena Kaupová, Jaroslav Březina, Lenka Šmídová, Roman Janál, Vladimír Okénko, Zdeněk Havránek, orchestr: Pražská komorní filharmonie, Komorní sbor, sbormistr Pavel Baxa, dirigent Jiří Bělohlávek

https://www.youtube.com/v/RkvUcyuXryE

Unfortunately, this YT item is not 100% complete...

From http://database.martinu.cz/works/public_view/166/lang:eng


The opera Voice of the Forest, based on the libretto by the poet Vítězslav Nezval (1900-1958), was written specifically for radio in 1935. It is one of Bohuslav Martinů’s operatic experiments, as were, in fact, each of his 14 completed operas. That he worked for the then new medium called "pictureless home theater" led to his rather different treatment of dramatic time than would be found in a work designated for the theater. The plot is interrupted by lyrical interludes; collage form is employed--Martinů places the naivete of a folk fairy-tale, a cheap-print story, a dream and emotionally charged lyricism side by side. "Enter a forest that is darker than a skeleton because all have lost their way here," the Narrator calls at the beginning of the opera, inviting the audience to individually experience the ambiguity of a subtle fairy-tale. This also incited the filmmakers to embark on the path of film collage and free image associations and to use the means of expression of their medium--TV film--to try to capture abundance of expression and diversity of genres found in this remarkable one-act opera.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: kyjo on September 28, 2017, 09:05:41 PM
I hardly know his concertos at all apart from the one for double string orchestra etc. I have a Chandos CD with the cello concertos so must play that one soon. Interesting discussion.

The Chandos CD of the cello concertos with Wallfisch and Belohlavek is one of my favorite recordings. You'll love it, Jeffrey!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Parsifal on October 23, 2017, 07:43:43 AM
After having some issues (audio quality) with Belohlavek's BBC Philharmonic recording of the 6th symphony I decided to backtrack. I've been listening to the second symphony in both Belohlavek's BBC recording and a recording by Pavo Jarvi with the Cincinnati Symphony (Telarc). It is a marvelous work and listening to the two recordings side by side has been an interesting experience. I get the impression that this symphony is constructed in layers, with the same motifs and phrases appearing in different strata of the music, alternately bubbling to the top. Hearing two readings of the work helps me to hear what is going on at different levels.

In any case, the sound on Belohlavek's recording still grates on me, but I've come to terms with it. His performance of the work is indeed marvelous, more dynamic and characterized than Jarvi's. I look forward to making my way through Martinu's symphonies again.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 23, 2017, 08:32:57 AM
Revisiting Thomson’s performance of the 2nd since you posted this, Scarpia. Enjoying it very much indeed.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Parsifal on October 23, 2017, 08:56:20 AM
Revisiting Thomson’s performance of the 2nd since you posted this, Scarpia. Enjoying it very much indeed.

I'd probably be listening to Thomson too, if my copy weren't in storage...
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 23, 2017, 08:56:55 AM
I'd probably be listening to Thomson too, if my copy weren't in storage...

Yeah, it’s a fine performance. Loved it.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on October 23, 2017, 11:29:48 PM
Thomson was an underrated conductor. His Walton Symphony 1 is one of the best and I really like his Honegger, Vaughan Williams and Bax cycles.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 24, 2017, 05:40:14 AM
Thomson was an underrated conductor. His Walton Symphony 1 is one of the best and I really like his Honegger, Vaughan Williams and Bax cycles.

Thomson never recorded any Honegger to my knowledge, Jeffrey. :-\
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on October 26, 2017, 06:34:16 AM
Thomson never recorded any Honegger to my knowledge, Jeffrey. :-\

Sorry John, meant Martinu.  ::)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 26, 2017, 06:35:02 AM
Sorry John, meant Martinu.  ::)

No worries, my friend. :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on October 26, 2017, 06:44:09 AM
New release - great cover art too:


One of his greatest works I think.

This is indeed a great performance and recording. Unusually sung/narrated in English and I was surprised to read that it was originally composed with an English text as Martinu thought that, for political reasons, it was less likely to be performed in Czech. I was a bit concerned when I realised that the UK's own Simon Callow was the narrator as he tends to over-act in everything I have seen him in. However, I thought that his narration here worked very well.  Possibly Martinu's masterpiece although Symphony No.4 ranks very high in my estimation. The CD is beautifully presented with full-text, photos and an interesting introductory essay. I think that this will be one of my discs of the year alongside Louis Glass's 5th Symphony and Maximilian Steinberg's 4th Symphony.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 26, 2017, 06:46:50 AM
This is indeed a great performance and recording. Unusually sung/narrated in English and I was surprised to read that it was originally composed with an English text as Martinu thought that, for political reasons, it was less likely to be performed in Czech. I was a bit concerned when I realised that the UK's own Simon Callow was the narrator as he tends to over-act in everything I have seen him in. However, I thought that his narration here worked very well.  Possibly Martinu's masterpiece although Symphony No.4 ranks very high in my estimation. The CD is beautifully presented with full-text, photos and an interesting introductory essay.

Excellent, Jeffrey! I probably don’t rate this work as highly as you do, but I do need to revisit it as it’s been too long. What do you make of Honeck’s conducting?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on October 26, 2017, 06:57:00 AM
Excellent, Jeffrey! I probably don’t rate this work as highly as you do, but I do need to revisit it as it’s been too long. What do you make of Honeck’s conducting?
Thanks John. Excellent in all respects. I found that I was riveted to the performance.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 26, 2017, 07:02:03 AM
Thanks John. Excellent in all respects. I found that I was riveted to the performance.

Very good. So you enjoy it more than the Bělohlávek?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on October 26, 2017, 07:19:26 AM
Very good. So you enjoy it more than the Bělohlávek?
It made a greater impression on me but maybe that's because it is sung in English.
Belohlavec was a fine conductor too so I wouldn't say that it was a superior performance John.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: kishnevi on October 26, 2017, 08:05:50 AM
Has anyone else heard anything from this set? (I know Brian reported listening to some of it.)


I finished a first listen last night, and thought it pretty well done. But the pnly other recording of the symphonies I have is the Jarvi, and it's been long enough since I played anything from it that I can't make a valid comparison--much less say how it compares to Neumann or any other. But on its own merits I think it would be worth having.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: relm1 on October 26, 2017, 05:22:37 PM
New release - great cover art too:


One of his greatest works I think.

What a gorgeous new release of a very good work.  Highly recommended. 
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 26, 2017, 05:58:40 PM
It made a greater impression on me but maybe that's because it is sung in English.
Belohlavec was a fine conductor too so I wouldn't say that it was a superior performance John.

In the shopping basket it goes! Thanks for your feedback, my friend. 8)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 26, 2017, 06:00:42 PM
Has anyone else heard anything from this set? (I know Brian reported listening to some of it.)


I finished a first listen last night, and thought it pretty well done. But the pnly other recording of the symphonies I have is the Jarvi, and it's been long enough since I played anything from it that I can't make a valid comparison--much less say how it compares to Neumann or any other. But on its own merits I think it would be worth having.

I need another Martinů symphony cycle like I need a hole in the head, but you do make me rather curious about this new cycle. I’ll probably pass on it, because I have yet to find a cycle that does what Thomson and Neumann do for me.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brian on October 26, 2017, 06:59:26 PM
Has anyone else heard anything from this set? (I know Brian reported listening to some of it.)


I finished a first listen last night, and thought it pretty well done. But the pnly other recording of the symphonies I have is the Jarvi, and it's been long enough since I played anything from it that I can't make a valid comparison--much less say how it compares to Neumann or any other. But on its own merits I think it would be worth having.
My first impression of 2, 3, and 4 was that Meister favors generally slightly slow tempos and has an unusual approach to rubato - certain episodes will suddenly shift gear up or down, not necessarily those I expected - and the sound is a little distant but the orchestra good. I will definitely listen again before forming complete thoughts or posting a serious discussion here, but my initial reaction was that it could use a bit more pizzazz but will be solidly in the running for 4th place behind (in an order that varies based on listener taste) Belohlavek, Thomson, and Neumann.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: SurprisedByBeauty on October 27, 2017, 06:43:11 AM
Has anyone else heard anything from this set? (I know Brian reported listening to some of it.)

I finished a first listen last night, and thought it pretty well done. But the pnly other recording of the symphonies I have is the Jarvi, and it's been long enough since I played anything from it that I can't make a valid comparison--much less say how it compares to Neumann or any other. But on its own merits I think it would be worth having.

(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DLbnov6X4AAn8v7.jpg)
#morninglistening to #Martinů on @capricciorec:

http://a-fwd.to/vmxwgQ4

w/#orfsymphonieorchester. Out later thi… http://ift.tt/2xYet6l  (http://a-fwd.to/vmxwgQ4)

One of  Meister's best efforts in his time with the ORF-SO. Not that is saying much. But what I've heard, I liked -- what I heard live I even loved. (http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2014/06/ionarts-at-large-rott-world-premiere.html) I'll have to go through it a few more times, to get a grasp on it more properly, but I thought that #2 to #4 were particularly good; and weakness in (only) one of them (the 6th? Already hazy on that again). I quite like Valek as my standard-against-which-to-measure-all-others (although I have -- I think -- every Martinu cycle), for what it's worth. It's not as played-to-the-hilt as your Jaervi cycle (which is
generally wild and rather exciting, often with abrupt eruptions and pointed phrasing).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Parsifal on October 27, 2017, 09:51:57 AM
One of  Meister's best efforts in his time with the ORF-SO. Not that is saying much. But what I've heard, I liked -- what I heard live I even loved. (http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2014/06/ionarts-at-large-rott-world-premiere.html) I'll have to go through it a few more times, to get a grasp on it more properly, but I thought that #2 to #4 were particularly good; and weakness in (only) one of them (the 6th? Already hazy on that again). I quite like Valek as my standard-against-which-to-measure-all-others (although I have -- I think -- every Martinu cycle), for what it's worth. It's not as played-to-the-hilt as your Jaervi cycle (which is
generally wild and rather exciting, often with abrupt eruptions and pointed phrasing).

I rather like Valek and it is nice to see some praise for him. Usually when I bring him up he gets dismissed.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: kishnevi on October 27, 2017, 03:53:42 PM
I don't even remember anyone mentioning him.
For reference purposes

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Parsifal on October 27, 2017, 08:57:00 PM
I don't even remember anyone mentioning him.
For reference purposes



I could swear I praised it at one point, but did a search and I can't find it. I started with Thomson and after finding it over-dramatizes the music at the expense of its lyrical aspects I stumbled upon Valek and was quite happy with it. The fact that it is in storage and not easy to get to led me to consider alternatives.

I just got Neumann's set and have started listening. I think at this point I prefer it over all, although the sound, while pleasantly clear and well balanced, is a bit dated and could probably benefit from a new master. It is an "AAD" disc and is mastered with pre-emphasis, which means I have to run it through a de-emphasis filter before playback on my DAC.
 
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Parsifal on October 29, 2017, 10:20:03 PM
What a wild goose chase!

I decided to dig through boxes in the storage unit and recover my Martinu Symphony cycles once and for all. Then I listened to a representative movement (Symphony No 2, first movement) to get my bearings and recover my memories of these sets.  My ranking by preference:

1) Valek, Prague Radio Symphony, Supraphon (by a country mile). Rather slow in tempo, but beautifully transparent texture, rhythmically alive, perfectly balanced, lyrical.

2) Neumann, Czech Philharmonic. Supraphon, Generally similar to Valek, sound a bit dated. Still very enjoyable.

3) Thomson, Scottish National Orchestra, Chandos. Well done, but tends to make the music sound more conventional, sort of the way that Rimsky-Korsakov or Sibelius comes out sounding a bit more like Wagner when Karajan performs it. But still, skillfully done and good sound.

4) Belohlavek, BBC, Onyx. Surprisingly the newest recording was the most unpleasant to my ears, congested and harsh in crescendos. A nice feature was the generally more spright tempo and the greater audibility of the piano.

5) Jarvi, Bamberger, Brilliant Classics (licensed form BIS). Sounded like a perfunctory read-through to me, sloppy and the sound wasn't great. Generally confirms my rule, the only time to listen to Jarvi is when no on else on earth has recorded the piece (which is often the case).

Honorable mention to Belohlavek's Czech Philharmonic Partial Cycle on Supraphon, more pleasant than the full BBC cycle, might have made 3rd place if it were complete.

It goes without saying that this "ranking" is merely my own personal preference. But what I have come to appreciate in performance of Martinu is a freely flowing lyricism, which I find it best conveyed in Valek and Neumann.

Now, at last, I can get back to enjoying the music.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 30, 2017, 04:53:39 AM
Interesting breakdown of your favorite cycles, Scarpia. I listened to Valek’s performance of the 1st last night and wasn’t too impressed with it. Sounded like a rather generic reading with no interpretative twists to make it stand out from other cycles. My favorite cycles are Thomson and Neumann. I like the Thomson for his attention to the rhythmical aspect of the music, which, often, goes by the wayside in Neumann’s performances (not that it’s lacking in this completely). Thomson isn’t as lyrical as Neumann, but Neumann isn’t as red-blooded as Thomson, so with these differences in mind, these are two of the best cycles for completely different reasons and they both bring out certain elements in this music that the other doesn’t. A sensational duo.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 30, 2017, 05:14:56 AM
I must confess I am rather curious about the Meister cycle as I watched this little documentary on Meister’s recording project:

https://www.youtube.com/v/oF0W3w3uCRM
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on November 04, 2017, 05:35:33 AM
The new release of 'The Epic of Gilgamesh' sung in English was very well reviewed on BBC Radio 3 'Record Review' this morning. They played the powerful and haunting (no pun intended) last two sections of the work:

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 04, 2017, 05:55:34 AM
The new release of 'The Epic of Gilgamesh' sung in English was very well reviewed on BBC Radio 3 'Record Review' this morning. They played the powerful and haunting (no pun intended) last two sections of the work:



Good to hear, Jeffrey. I have this recording on the way, so I’m chomping at the bit to give it a spin.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Daverz on November 04, 2017, 07:52:16 AM
I must confess I am rather curious about the Meister cycle as I watched this little documentary on Meister’s recording project:

https://www.youtube.com/v/oF0W3w3uCRM

Which leads me to this excellent performance of the Violin Concerto No. 2.  Good to see it getting played by such a prominent artist.

https://www.youtube.com/v/gbaVXbHVhfg
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Daverz on November 04, 2017, 09:47:56 AM
Having listened to the Fischer video of the Violin Concerto No. 2 below, the old Suk recording, and now the Isabelle Faust recording, sadly Suk seems a bit weak sounding compared to the two ladies, and then there's the swimmy acoustic of Dvorak Hall. 



I also downloaded the Matousek recording for 5 pounds from Hyperion and will report later.

https://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDA67674
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on November 04, 2017, 12:14:29 PM
Good to hear, Jeffrey. I have this recording on the way, so I’m chomping at the bit to give it a spin.
I'm sure you'll enjoy it John - a great release.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 04, 2017, 05:12:15 PM
Which leads me to this excellent performance of the Violin Concerto No. 2.  Good to see it getting played by such a prominent artist.

https://www.youtube.com/v/gbaVXbHVhfg

Indeed! The attention the composer gets, the happier I am, because I really do feel he deserves it IMHO.

Having listened to the Fischer video of the Violin Concerto No. 2 below, the old Suk recording, and now the Isabelle Faust recording, sadly Suk seems a bit weak sounding compared to the two ladies, and then there's the swimmy acoustic of Dvorak Hall. 



I also downloaded the Matousek recording for 5 pounds from Hyperion and will report later.

https://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDA67674

The Josef Suk recording of the VCs does have its’ charms, but with amazing violinists like Matousek and Faust performing these concerti, it does bring things into a different perspective. Do yourself a favor and just go ahead and buy that entire Matousek/Hogwood series on Hyperion. :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on November 06, 2017, 03:07:58 AM
I've just heard the first recording of Martinu's 4th Symphony and it is terrific. I actually have it on a previous release in the IMG 'Great Conductors' Series. The discussions here have encouraged me to listen to it. The recording is from 1948 in Prague, not that long after the work was composed and just before Kubelik left Czechoslovakia after the communist coup. The performance (Kubelik/Czech PO) has great urgency, unlike any other I have heard although I shall always remain loyal to Turnovsky. Furthermore the recording includes several bars in the slow movement which Martinu later excised. The set below used to be very expensive, if I remember correctly, but seems to have dropped right down in price (I'm looking on Amazon UK).


Here is the earlier release:

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 06, 2017, 08:26:43 AM
Jeffrey, I need to revisit Turnovsky’s Martinu. I have this Apex recording:

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41G7lpbHTwL.jpg)

I’ll certainly be listening to this recording at some point today.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: SurprisedByBeauty on November 06, 2017, 09:19:26 AM
. Do yourself a favor and just go ahead and buy that entire Matousek/Hogwood series on Hyperion. :)

Enthusiastically seconded. While the Martinu Second is reasonably widely accepted as one of the great lesser-known masterpieces for the violin, the other works for violin and orchestra of Martinu's are also really very good and in fact all Above-Average-Quality Martinu.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 06, 2017, 09:50:30 AM
Enthusiastically seconded. While the Martinu Second is reasonably widely accepted as one of the great lesser-known masterpieces for the violin, the other works for violin and orchestra of Martinu's are also really very good and in fact all Above-Average-Quality Martinu.

8) Some real gems in that series for sure.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Daverz on November 06, 2017, 11:38:42 AM
I also downloaded the Matousek recording for 5 pounds from Hyperion and will report later.

https://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDA67674

Having now heard the Matousek recording, I have to give him the edge because he plays in a warm and Romantic way that seems apt given the concerto was written for Mischa Elman.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 06, 2017, 11:47:03 AM
Having now heard the Matousek recording, I have to give him the edge because he plays in a warm and Romantic way that seems apt given the concerto was written for Mischa Elman.

Indeed. Matousek is a remarkable violinist and knows this music extremely well.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on November 06, 2017, 01:17:25 PM
Jeffrey, I need to revisit Turnovsky’s Martinu. I have this Apex recording:

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41G7lpbHTwL.jpg)

I’ll certainly be listening to this recording at some point today.

That's the one John! Great CD.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Parsifal on November 06, 2017, 01:35:20 PM
That's the one John! Great CD.

I've listened to that recording over the weekend, and although there is much to admire in the performance I find myself somewhat disappointed with the compressed dynamics of the 1967 recording. I'm trying to decide which recording of the Martinu 4th to listen to next as an alternative. I have too many to choose from...
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 06, 2017, 02:02:44 PM
That's the one John! Great CD.

Indeed it is! And, unlike Scarpia, I have no problems with the audio quality. Sounded good to my ears. Fantastic performances of Tre Ricercari and Piano Concerto No. 4, “Incantations” as well.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on November 06, 2017, 03:05:43 PM
My discovery of Martinu was through the Fourth Symphony in Turnovsky's performance on a Supraphon LP. Undoubtedly this has coloured my fondness for the recording but, in all honesty, I have not heard a better one on CD. The Kubelik, which I heard for the first time today is terrific but the recording is even older than the Turnovsky! I can't think of a modern one which especially stands out although I've always thought highly of Bryden Thomson.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Parsifal on November 06, 2017, 03:07:25 PM
My discovery of Martinu was through the Fourth Symphony in Turnovsky's performance on a Supraphon LP. Undoubtedly this has coloured my fondness for the recording but, in all honesty, I have not herd a better one on CD. The Kubelik, which I heard for the first time today is terrific but the recording is even older than the Turnovsky! I can't think of a modern one which especially stands out although I've always thought highly of Bryden Thomson.

I have the Thomson, maybe I'll try that one, or Jarvi.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 06, 2017, 03:18:40 PM
My discovery of Martinu was through the Fourth Symphony in Turnovsky's performance on a Supraphon LP. Undoubtedly this has coloured my fondness for the recording but, in all honesty, I have not heard a better one on CD. The Kubelik, which I heard for the first time today is terrific but the recording is even older than the Turnovsky! I can't think of a modern one which especially stands out although I've always thought highly of Bryden Thomson.

If you’re looking for a high-voltage performance than you can’t go wrong with Thomson or Jarvi. If it’s lyricism in abundance you seek, then Neumann and Belohlavek should fit the bill nicely. Personally, I tend to favor the more high-voltage performances, because it’s also in these performances where the dramatic tension is quite suitable for the music.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 06, 2017, 05:04:46 PM
Compositional Spotlight:

Symphony No. 3, H 299

(https://i.pinimg.com/736x/87/a8/44/87a844dcc348fae01664f25c03afd342--art-photography-feelings.jpg)

Martinů composed his Third Symphony during a summer retreat in Ridgefield, Connecticut from 2 May to 14 June 1944. The composition was not the result of a commission, but rather was a spontaneous gesture, and is dedicated to Serge Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, on the twentieth anniversary of their association. It was premiered in Boston, Massachusetts on 12 October 1945 by the dedicatees.

The second movement is dated 26 May 1944, and so it is very probable that he was working on the finale when news was received of the Allied landing in Normandy on 6 June. Although this has sometimes been interpreted as an influence on the joyful turn taken in this movement, it is also possible that the overall design of the symphony had been established much earlier.

The second movement contains thematic and harmonic material identical to the slow movement of the Piano Quintet No. 2, which had been written immediately before the symphony.

[Information taken from Wikipedia]

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

What a remarkable symphony. The opening of the symphony is one of the most frightening moments in Martinu’s music. The Largo is haunting. The last movement ends in an eerie manner. It’s a strange symphony, but somehow Martinu is able to make it all work and sound completely natural. What do you guys think of this symphony? Favorite performances of mine are Jarvi and Neumann.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: You did it on November 06, 2017, 07:54:59 PM
The Double Concerto is hands down, my favorite piece this week so far  0:)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 06, 2017, 08:05:31 PM
The Double Concerto is hands down, my favorite piece this week so far  0:)

8) Glad you enjoyed it, Josh. It’s a hell of a work. A masterpiece.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: You did it on November 06, 2017, 08:21:22 PM
8) Glad you enjoyed it, Josh. It’s a hell of a work. A masterpiece.

Bloody right!!  :o
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: SymphonicAddict on November 06, 2017, 08:54:28 PM
Compositional Spotlight:

Symphony No. 3, H 299

(https://i.pinimg.com/736x/87/a8/44/87a844dcc348fae01664f25c03afd342--art-photography-feelings.jpg)

Martinů composed his Third Symphony during a summer retreat in Ridgefield, Connecticut from 2 May to 14 June 1944. The composition was not the result of a commission, but rather was a spontaneous gesture, and is dedicated to Serge Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, on the twentieth anniversary of their association. It was premiered in Boston, Massachusetts on 12 October 1945 by the dedicatees.

The second movement is dated 26 May 1944, and so it is very probable that he was working on the finale when news was received of the Allied landing in Normandy on 6 June. Although this has sometimes been interpreted as an influence on the joyful turn taken in this movement, it is also possible that the overall design of the symphony had been established much earlier.

The second movement contains thematic and harmonic material identical to the slow movement of the Piano Quintet No. 2, which had been written immediately before the symphony.

[Information taken from Wikipedia]

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

What a remarkable symphony. The opening of the symphony is one of the most frightening moments in Martinu’s music. The Largo is haunting. The last movement ends in an eerie manner. It’s a strange symphony, but somehow Martinu is able to make it all work and sound completely natural. What do you guys think of this symphony? Favorite performances of mine are Jarvi and Neumann.

Yeah! This symphony has stunned me in a very positive way. I really like that dark atmosphere which Martinu knew how to develop  masterfully. My favorite performance is by Thomson: it has dynamics, strength and the sound is so clear.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 06, 2017, 09:11:11 PM
Yeah! This symphony has stunned me in a very positive way. I really like that dark atmosphere which Martinu knew how to develop  masterfully. My favorite performance is by Thomson: it has dynamics, strength and the sound is so clear.

Yes, indeed. I’ve come to really appreciate Jarvi’s Martinu symphony cycle. I’d agree that Thomson’s is top-notch (certainly one of my favorites, too). I’d say that the 1st, 3rd, and 6th symphonies all share a commonality in terms of creating some almost strange sonorities with each of their own unique uses of chromaticism that just spirals like a flying saucer. I’m not sure how I would classify the 4th and 5th. The 2nd is like his ‘pastoral symphony’ as it’s rather light on it’s feet, rather neoclassical sounding almost in the same sense that Honegger’s 4th symphony is his own ‘pastoral.’
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Parsifal on November 06, 2017, 11:16:52 PM
Listened to Thomson's recording of Martinu's 4th symphony. It is thrilling to hear this music is good modern sound, where all the things that Martinu does with the orchestra can be clearly heard. But my earlier impression is confirmed, I feel that Thomson sacrifices some of the grace and rhythmic subtlety of this music to create the greatest possible dynamic impact. The third movement, in particular, suffered from uncontrolled orchestral balances, in my opinion. It made me appreciate what a magnificent job Turnovsky did with this music, despite the limitations of the audio. The rhythmic energy of Turnovsky's second movement is amazing to hear.

In any case, it is wonderful music and a great pleasure to hear it in different interpretations.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on November 06, 2017, 11:54:27 PM
Listened to Thomson's recording of Martinu's 4th symphony. It is thrilling to hear this music is good modern sound, where all the things that Martinu does with the orchestra can be clearly heard. But my earlier impression is confirmed, I feel that Thomson sacrifices some of the grace and rhythmic subtlety of this music to create the greatest possible dynamic impact. The third movement, in particular, suffered from uncontrolled orchestral balances, in my opinion. It made me appreciate what a magnificent job Turnovsky did with this music, despite the limitations of the audio. The rhythmic energy of Turnovsky's second movement is amazing to hear.

In any case, it is wonderful music and a great pleasure to hear it in different interpretations.
Actually I forgot this one which John (MI) mentioned. Great recording and performance of Symphony 4. Probably my favourite modern recording. A fine disc in my view as I like all three works :

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: You did it on November 07, 2017, 01:13:12 AM
The third symphony is an interesting one, the first movement is quite simplistic (rhythmically) but has some really awesome textures created by the orchestration (such as the part with the harp and piano crossing each other). There are some great little crescendos, the 2nd movement is where the true action starts though  :D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: You did it on November 07, 2017, 01:15:10 AM
So far the double concerto and the third symphony stand well against Stravinsky and Messiaen, there have been a few lesser interesting pieces but I've still got several dozen to go!   ;D ;D
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 07, 2017, 06:48:13 AM
Actually I forgot this one which John (MI) mentioned. Great recording and performance of Symphony 4. Probably my favourite modern recording. A fine disc in my view as I like all three works :



Yes, that’s a fine recording. I think Belohlavek is obviously a fine Martinu conductor, but I seem to turn to him for works that you can’t find anywhere else like, for example, the song cycles Nipponari, Magic Nights, the orchestral work Estampes (there’s also a Walter Weller performance that’s pretty good), ballets like The Butterfly that Stamped, Who is the Most Powerful in the World?, and The Revolt and not to mention operas like The Voice in the Forest and The Miracles of Mary.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 07, 2017, 07:09:21 AM
So far the double concerto and the third symphony stand well against Stravinsky and Messiaen, there have been a few lesser interesting pieces but I've still got several dozen hundreds to go!   ;D ;D

I edited this post for you. :)

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 07, 2017, 07:14:33 AM
Listened to Thomson's recording of Martinu's 4th symphony. It is thrilling to hear this music is good modern sound, where all the things that Martinu does with the orchestra can be clearly heard. But my earlier impression is confirmed, I feel that Thomson sacrifices some of the grace and rhythmic subtlety of this music to create the greatest possible dynamic impact. The third movement, in particular, suffered from uncontrolled orchestral balances, in my opinion. It made me appreciate what a magnificent job Turnovsky did with this music, despite the limitations of the audio. The rhythmic energy of Turnovsky's second movement is amazing to hear.

In any case, it is wonderful music and a great pleasure to hear it in different interpretations.

I won’t argue you with you about Turnovsky. ;) Since revisiting it, it’s now my favorite 4th. 8)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: SurprisedByBeauty on November 07, 2017, 07:26:26 AM
I won’t argue you with you about Turnovsky. ;) Since revisiting it, it’s now my favorite 4th. 8)

So happy about all this life in the Martinů thread. Yes, Turnovsky has long been the classic Fourth -- and unlike many classic Martinů recordings, it holds up well. Other Über-Martinů accounts I have found to be at least somewhat overrated. As if only Ancerl et al. were capable of performing these works.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 07, 2017, 07:44:30 AM
So happy about all this life in the Martinů thread. Yes, Turnovsky has long been the classic Fourth -- and unlike many classic Martinů recordings, it holds up well. Other Über-Martinů accounts I have found to be at least somewhat overrated. As if only Ancerl et al. were capable of performing these works.

Indeed! I wish Turnovsky would have recorded a whole cycle of the symphonies!
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Parsifal on November 07, 2017, 07:52:43 AM
Actually I forgot this one which John (MI) mentioned. Great recording and performance of Symphony 4. Probably my favourite modern recording. A fine disc in my view as I like all three works :



Yes, I find myself in possession of all three of Belohlavek's recordings of Martinu 4 (on Chandos, Supraphon and Onyx). I should listen to one of them, although I also want to revisit the Turnovsky. If only time permitted me to give all of these recordings their due (which begs the question of why I buy them all). Someday.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 07, 2017, 08:41:09 AM
So happy about all this life in the Martinů thread.

I am, too! I can’t think of a composer more deserving of this kind of attention. He should be performed more often and not just in the Czech Republic. ::)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on November 07, 2017, 12:44:19 PM
I am, too! I can’t think of a composer more deserving of this kind of attention. He should be performed more often and not just in the Czech Republic. ::)

Yes, this is a very nice thread. I must revisit Symphony 3. There was a Martinu festival at the Barbican in London a few years ago. I went to a concert but am ashamed to say that I cant remember what I heard - which is terrible!  ::)

Yes, would have been great if Turnovsky had recorded a Martinu cycle but I'm eternally grateful for his legendary account of Symphony 4. The Frescoes of Piero della Francesca rate very high in my estimation too.

Martinu article:
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/martinu-and-me-6874857.html
Includes 'essential Martinu collection' at end.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on November 07, 2017, 04:21:41 PM
So happy about all this life in the Martinů thread.

I am, too! I can’t think of a composer more deserving of this kind of attention. He should be performed more often and not just in the Czech Republic. ::)

Yes, this is a very nice thread.

Yes, good to see it alive and kicking. The new Honeck Gilgamesh is definitely on my want list now: I saw this work performed at Grant Park a couple of years ago, and they sensibly used the English text (as Honeck does).

No, Martinu doesn't get performed as often as I'd like, but the situation is definitely better than it was when I first started listening to him in the late 1990s.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 07, 2017, 06:02:29 PM
Yes, this is a very nice thread. I must revisit Symphony 3. There was a Martinu festival at the Barbican in London a few years ago. I went to a concert but am ashamed to say that I cant remember what I heard - which is terrible!  ::)

Yes, would have been great if Turnovsky had recorded a Martinu cycle but I'm eternally grateful for his legendary account of Symphony 4. The Frescoes of Piero della Francesca rate very high in my estimation too.

Martinu article:
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/martinu-and-me-6874857.html
Includes 'essential Martinu collection' at end.

Jeffrey, Symphony No. 3 is right up your alley. It’s eerie and turbulent atmosphere reminds me of the moods he explored in his Double Concerto and later his Symphony No. 6, “Fantaisies symphoniques”. Such a masterful work.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 07, 2017, 06:03:52 PM
Yes, good to see it alive and kicking. The new Honeck Gilgamesh is definitely on my want list now: I saw this work performed at Grant Park a couple of years ago, and they sensibly used the English text (as Honeck does).

No, Martinu doesn't get performed as often as I'd like, but the situation is definitely better than it was when I first started listening to him in the late 1990s.

Who conducted this performance of The Epic of Gilgamesh? Kalmar? I bet it was great seeing this work live.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on November 07, 2017, 07:26:17 PM
Who conducted this performance of The Epic of Gilgamesh? Kalmar? I bet it was great seeing this work live.

Yep. Here's a review of it:

http://chicagoclassicalreview.com/2016/07/on-a-cool-night-grant-park-festival-serves-up-cool-czech-rarities/

There's been other Martinu in Chicago recently (Oboe Cto. with Muti/Klein/CSO, and Frescoes of Piero della Francesca with Ludovic Morlot/CSO a few years ago, to name a couple), but I didn't get to those.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 07, 2017, 07:29:16 PM
Yep. Here's a review of it:

http://chicagoclassicalreview.com/2016/07/on-a-cool-night-grant-park-festival-serves-up-cool-czech-rarities/

There's been other Martinu in Chicago recently (Oboe Cto. with Muti/Klein/CSO, and Frescoes of Piero della Francesca with Ludovic Morlot/CSO a few years ago, to name a couple), but I didn't get to those.

Excellent. Sounds like a great concert. Good to see the CSO performing Martinu. 8) I hope that ever major American orchestra performs more and more of his music.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Alek Hidell on November 07, 2017, 07:42:18 PM
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?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 07, 2017, 07:45:50 PM
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?

Hopefully, when my set arrives, I can provide a symphony-to-symphony critique of the set, but judging from the estimated delivery time via Amazon UK, it won't be in my hands until next week.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: kishnevi on November 07, 2017, 08:30:52 PM
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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on November 07, 2017, 08:52:14 PM
As far as the symphonies, the Belohlavek/BBC set sits firmly in the top spot for me. Wonderful drive, plenty of color, and more three-dimensional than the others I've heard.

Next in line is probably Neumann, but that's not a knock. Neumann scores highly when it comes to poetry and introversion. And he's very colorful.

Thomson I think could benefit from taking a little from the Czech's playbook. Not enough color for me, a la Neumann, and not enough drive, a la Belohlavek (although I only have Thomson's 2 and 6).

Belohlavek's Czech PO 3 & 4 I have also rank high, but not higher than the above.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: You did it on November 07, 2017, 08:58:30 PM
The Piano Trio no 2 instills a very particular feeling but I can't pin down what exactly
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 07, 2017, 09:07:41 PM
As far as the symphonies, the Belohlavek/BBC set sits firmly in the top spot for me. Wonderful drive, plenty of color, and more three-dimensional than the others I've heard.

Next in line is probably Neumann, but that's not a knock. Neumann scores highly when it comes to poetry and introversion. And he's very colorful.

Thomson I think could benefit from taking a little from the Czech's playbook. Not enough color for me, a la Neumann, and not enough drive, a la Belohlavek (although I only have Thomson's 2 and 6).

Belohlavek's Czech PO 3 & 4 I have also rank high, but not higher than the above.

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. :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 07, 2017, 09:08:45 PM
The Piano Trio no 2 instills a very particular feeling but I can't pin down what exactly

Would love to know what feeling it is you’re thinking about?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: You did it on November 07, 2017, 09:15:23 PM
Would love to know what feeling it is you’re thinking about?

A kind of melancholy nostalgia that seems almost kind of bitter, sprinkled in some lovely melodies? well, that's the best way I can describe it.

The String Trio is jamming  8)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 07, 2017, 09:16:27 PM
A kind of melancholy nostalgia that seems almost kind of bitter, sprinkled in some lovely melodies? well, that's the best way I can describe it.

The String Trio is jamming  8)

That sounds lovely. I’ll have to revisit this work (Piano Trio No. 2).
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: You did it on November 07, 2017, 09:20:50 PM
The String Trio though  :D

It figuratively goes between heavy-era Bartok to lyrical Brahms quite a bit, it's awesome  8)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: vandermolen on November 07, 2017, 11:18:22 PM
A kind of melancholy nostalgia that seems almost kind of bitter, sprinkled in some lovely melodies? well, that's the best way I can describe it.

The String Trio is jamming  8)

Yes, melancholy nostalgia definitely appeals to me too.
 8)

I do know Symphony 3 but a while since I've heard it. That will be rectified soon.  :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: SurprisedByBeauty 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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian 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. :)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image 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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image 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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Parsifal 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...
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image 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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: SurprisedByBeauty 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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Alek Hidell 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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image 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?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Alek Hidell 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?)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image 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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mahlerian 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).

Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image 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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image 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

(https://i.pinimg.com/736x/c7/98/b4/c798b417fa5d8b1b10f046747fbf2a67.jpg)

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?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo 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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: SymphonicAddict 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

(https://i.pinimg.com/736x/c7/98/b4/c798b417fa5d8b1b10f046747fbf2a67.jpg)

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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image 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)
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image 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:

https://www.youtube.com/v/zbtmsZfpjwA
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr 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
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Brian 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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image 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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image 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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image 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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: SurprisedByBeauty 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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: ritter 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:

(https://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_500/MI0001/107/MI0001107772.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)

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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image 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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image 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:

(https://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_500/MI0001/107/MI0001107772.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)

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.
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 17, 2017, 07:16:45 PM
Compositional Spotlight:

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

(https://i.pinimg.com/originals/dd/0b/eb/dd0bebb3c498480d43b33d2b676ed18f.jpg)

https://www.youtube.com/v/6nEo7oKJcsw

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

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?
Title: Re: Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Post by: snyprrr on November 17, 2017, 07:36:28 PM
Compositional Spotlight:

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

(https://i.pinimg.com/originals/dd/0b/eb/dd0bebb3c498480d43b33d2b676ed18f.jpg)

https://www.youtube.com/v/6nEo7oKJcsw

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

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 favor