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Unknown Martinu


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Author Topic: Unknown Martinu  (Read 525 times)
M. Yaskovsky
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« on: November 26, 2017, 11:54:19 am »

Attention please for this interesting release. Premiere recording of 3 very early Martinu scores by Toccata Classics https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B077MQC5YY/ref=ox_sc_act_image_1?smid=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&psc=1
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2017, 01:40:21 am »

Interesting indeed!

I have not investigated the two previous releases in this series. Has anyone else done so??
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Gauk
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« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2017, 11:14:20 am »

I have listened to volume 1. The performances with Sinfonia Varsovia and Ian Hobson are fine. The pieces are none of them profound, but pleasant listening, and some show very interesting pre-echos of Martinu's later style.
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2017, 02:21:01 am »

I am an idiot  I do have Volume 1 in my collection. Another of those cds bought, listened to once and promptly forgotten.

Reading about the works in Volume 3 however suggests that they will be very interesting indeed.
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2018, 10:02:35 pm »

The new disc is magnificent!

Glorious, rich, dark romantic music in a style which the composer largely abandoned: Straussian with the influence of Debussy. But music well worth revival.

Warmly and enthusiastically recommended Smiley
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Demetrius
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« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2018, 12:17:53 pm »

It sounds fascinating. I do like Martinu a lot, although I haven't listened to any of his music for a good while. And I've never really heard any of the early stuff. I'll have to add that to my shopping list for when I have some spare dosh.

Of course, I now feel like I have to buy Vols. 1 & 2 as well, if only for completism's sake as it'll annoy me having a disc labelled Vol 3 in my collection on its own!  Grin

Thanks for the feedback.
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Expi
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« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2018, 09:01:08 am »

Nice disk. Vanishing Midnight is really a wonderful romantic piece with impressionistic influences, worth hearing. The other two pieces are not on that level, actually redundant and not relevant.  Roll Eyes
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Here is a short list of relevant british composers:
Dundonnell
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« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2018, 03:23:11 am »

Nice disk. Vanishing Midnight is really a wonderful romantic piece with impressionistic influences, worth hearing. The other two pieces are not on that level, actually redundant and not relevant.  Roll Eyes

I am delighted that you are obviously impressed by "Vanishing Midnight".

You may be less taken by the other pieces on the disc and that is of course a perfectly "proper" response. Once again however you persist in using the phrase "not relevant" (to which you now add the word "redundant").

If you have read the responses from other members to your previous posts you should be aware that the use of the phrase "not relevant" is inappropriate (or, more directly, nonsensical). Relevance by definition requires a relationship, ie relevance to what. In the context of early Martinu-the music he was writing before the influences of Stravinsky and of jazz brought about a change of musical direction-these early orchestral works, influenced by Strauss and Debussy, are exceptionally "relevant" (which is why Toccata decided to record them).

Repeatedly describing particular music as "not relevant" has irked other members, is annoying and-if continued out of some sense of amusement-is decidedly unfunny.
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the Administration
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« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2018, 08:36:01 am »

you

Please remember our second rule and stick to Martinů, about whose music it is assuredly possible to say a great deal more. Thank you members.
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jidlomonster
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« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2018, 07:06:43 pm »

It's nice to see that a CD I helped prepare has stirred a little controversy!  I thought it might be of interest if I included a short description of the main work on this CD, Vanishing Midnight.  It's adapted from notes I contributed to another forum and I hope no-one minds the duplication.

Vanishing midnight has before never been recorded - indeed, only the central movement has ever been performed, and that just twice in the 1920s.  In this work Martinů seems to be summing up his achievements to date, before moving on to new territory in his next ballet Who is the Most Powerful in the World?.  The first movement begins with suggestions of his recent ballet Istar, but for the most part is an elaborate symphonic waltz gaining steadily in speed, rhythmic vitality until a dramatic collapse brings back the sounds of the opening.

The central movement has two distinct sections - the first is slow, unveiling an innocuous theme which will inflate to terrifying proportions when it reappears in the finale.  The textures are very complex, with the strings often divided into nine parts - but Martinů's characteristic luminosity of sound is present throughout.  The faster section brings rhythms reminiscent of Debussy - e.g. Fetes from his Nocturnes - stirring brass fanfares and dazzlingly bright orchestration.  Once more the music seems to collapse under its own momentum - the movement ends on a chilling note as two solo violins spiral upwards over eerie bitonal harmonies.

Despite the riches of the first two movements, I feel it is the finale ('Shadows') which will be the main talking point of this CD.  It depicts the disquiet that can arise in the human soul in the hours after midnight and sounds like nothing else Martinů ever wrote (with the possible exception of The Angel of Death, but we are a long way from being able to hear that  early symphonic poem).   Frantically billowing strings, sinister chromatic motives and tangled contrapuntal lines jostle for attention - like the soundtracks of horror films yet to be produced.  At the centre of the movement, harp and pizzicato violins suggest the ticking of a clock counting down to some unspecified disaster - and for me, one of the most impressive sections follows, as this material is developed and accelerated at length, opening out into a restatement of earlier material.  The conclusion is, unusually for Martinů, brutally pessimistic.

I hope many of you will come to enjoy this CD (and, indeed, the previous two volumes in the series).

Michael Crump
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2018, 11:36:45 pm »

Thank you very much indeed for your analysis of "Vanishing Midnight". It is an extremely impressive, indeed compelling work and adds a fascinating further dimension to one's appreciation of a composer whose music is heard far too seldom in the concert hall. At least, mainly but by no means exclusively thanks to Supraphon, we can hear virtually everything Martinu wrote from the mid 1920s onwards.

Sometimes the early works of a composer find him struggling towards a mature style.The works on this disc are, I think, more than that. They represent a mastery of a style from which Martinu would move away yet incorporate elements once again in the last orchestral works written in the 1950s.

Could I also acknowledge and applaud the wonderful booklet notes you contribute to this Toccata series. They are marvellous exemplars of superbly detailed, informative and instructive essays which so enhance the attractions of the music and the value of the disc. Toccata (and a very few other specialist labels) put others to shame in this regard. Magnificent Many thanks!
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jidlomonster
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« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2018, 09:28:24 am »

Thanks very much - I am indeed fortunate that Martin Anderson of Toccata Classics does not impose any limit on me.  I find it much more difficult to write a short essay than a long one and I'm usually surprised, when I get to see the final booklet, how much space I've managed to take up.

There is still plenty of Martinů to get onto disc, though.  Even among works written after his move to Paris (and therefore outside the scope of our project) there are some stragglers, notably among the operas.  I'd love to see the following emerge at some point:

  • The Soldier and the Dancer
  • Larmes de couteau (in French as he composed it)
  • Les trois souhaits (in French and without any cuts)
  • Divadlo za bránou(from as late as 1935)
  • What Men Live By(Bělohlávek did this in concert and I hope something will be issued eventually)
  • The Strangler (ballet)

As for our project, I am working on the 1914 ballet Noc and will be finishing that soon.  It will be extremely difficult to record, as it has a massive orchestra with an off-stage female chorus, and poses immense technical challenges.  A fascinating piece, though!  We would like to do the whole of the ballet Istar but do not yet know whether adequate performing materials are available.  There are also two early symphonic poems - I have yet to approach the publisher to get permission to work on them.  Potentially, there is still plenty to do!
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M. Yaskovsky
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« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2018, 10:28:52 am »

Facinating. I admire Martinu since the first composition - on radio - I ever heard from him: the first cello concerto. It's a pity, as far as my memory goes back, and as an example, that in my home town, the local symphony orchestra, never performed a single note of Martinu since 1945.......
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jidlomonster
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« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2018, 10:59:25 am »

in my home town, the local symphony orchestra, never performed a single note of Martinu since 1945.......

I envy the fact that you at least have a symphony orchestra in your town!  What town is it?  Have you brought this ghastly omission to their attention?  Perhaps if they knew there was some interest, they might consider playing Martinů.  But probably you've done that already.
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M. Yaskovsky
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« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2018, 02:52:36 pm »

Residentie Orkest, aka The Hague Philharmonic. Under Van Zweden we got a Dvorak symphony now and then; under Svetlanov we only got the Russians and his Brahms, yek, under Jarvi we only got Bruckner and again Brahms; under Vonk we got Mahler and Bruckner and hey Brahms. The most interesting times were 1950 - 1970, with van Otterloo doing much French repertoire, Maderna visited The Hague etc. But Martinu? No way!
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