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Martinu: Symphonies 1-6
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Genre: Classical Music
Media Format: Compact Disk
Release Date: 21-JUN-2005
Martinu's blend of the neo-classic and Romantic in his symphonies is fascinating listening. All six works have solid musical interest, and several are truly outstanding. The Third, a response to the carnage of World War II, with a muted, almost anti-climactic ending is moving; the optimistic Fourth, with its radiant Largo, is among his finest, and the energetic Fifth make his "war" symphonies unmissable. The Sixth, subtitled "Fantaises symphoniques") is remarkable in its free form but coherent approach. The first two symphonies are notable for their handling of orchestral sonorities and his typical rhythmic inventiveness and energy. While one's instinct is to favor conductors and orchestras from Martinu's native Czechoslovakia, Thomson and his Scottish band play with an idiomatic tang and drive that makes this the preferred complete symphony cycle. The orchestra's biting brass, colorful winds, and exuberant strings are first-rate. Thomson's firm grip on Martinu's elusive style means that even his interpretive liberties are convincing, like his flowing tempo for the Third's Largo movement which is usually taken much more slowly. He builds Martinu's symphonic frameworks so that however wayward they may appear at first, they wind up making sense. Other performances of some symphonies may have an edge, like Ancerl's near-miraculous Fifth and Sixth, but with its excellent sonics, playing, and conducting, this one sweeps the boards. --Dan Davis
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- Product Dimensions : 5 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches; 4.83 Ounces
- Manufacturer : Chandos
- SPARS Code : DDD
- Date First Available : July 27, 2006
- Label : Chandos
- ASIN : B0009F66PY
- Number of discs : 3
Best Sellers Rank:
#50,043 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
- #1,086 in Symphonies (CDs & Vinyl)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Though the Sixth Symphony, appropriately labelled, *Fantaisies Symphoniques*, is arguably the composer's best known work (having been introduced to listeners in the 1950's via a BSO recording under Charles Munch), I found myself responding more readily, indeed quite viscerally, to the motoric rhythms and ecstatic lyricism of the Second and Fourth. But all six works hail from Martinu's maturity, and may rightly be regarded as masterworks of the genre.
I deliberated quite awhile before resolving upon purchase of this Chandos set. Other complete Martinu cycles exist (including at least two with Czech forces and conductors), and most have received positive reviews by Amazonians, as well as in the critical literature. I ended up choosing the Bryden Thomson cycle for two reasons: the SNO always sounds gorgeous as recorded by the Chandos engineers (cf. Gibson's splendid Sibelius cycle), and the cost was appropriately modest for one exploring this repertoire for the first time. Though I still have no standard of comparison, I cannot imagine finer performances, even by Czech ensembles, Under Byrden Thomson's direction, the SNO play with fervor, vivid orchestral colors, and stunning collective virtuosity. This must be extremely difficult music to play, and even more difficult to co-ordinate from the podium, and on both counts Bryden Thomson and his Scottish ensemble provide terrific musicianship. The engineering is also first-rate; it affords a spacious ambiance in which the robust sonorities of Martinu's scoring can expand and display to full effect their enchanting, chimerical textures.
So an A+ on all counts: the music is unforgettable, the playing gorgeous, and the engineering everything it needs to be.
The first symphony is lively, driving, and a tad stringent in the manner of Arthur Honegger's symphonies. The second symphony is a delight! It starts with a streaming flow of strings and woodwinds. There's a magical undercurrent of piano throughout. The following four symphonies are just as rewarding. The sixth symphony ("Fantaisies symphoniques") was originally to be titled "Une Nouvelle Symphonie Fantastique," because Martinu was inspired by the music of Berlioz. He later backed off the title, but there is no denying that this work is as fantastical as that of Berlioz.
These symphonies aren't long by Mahlerian or Brucknerian standards. They fit snugly within the 30-minute range. There is not a hint of pretension or grandstanding in the music. Martinu doesn't endeavor to imitate or outdo Beethoven, Brahms, or Mahler. He is his own voice. These works are fresh and accessible. I would suggest, however, turning up the volume for maximum enjoyment.
These performances bring out all the fantasy and excitement that these works need in an interpretation. Many thanks to Bryden Thomson's excellent vision and the Royal Scottish Nat'l Orchestra's superb playing.
1 & 5 - 2 & 6 - 3 & 4.
Perhaps this is the sequencing of the discs as sold individually.
I have found all six of Martinu's symphonies to be immediately accessible from the very first hearing, refreshingly modern and thoroughly enjoyable. I can compare his style to bits of Copland, Hindemith and Bartok.
Bryden Thomson has provided a spirited, engaging and clearly affectionate reading of Martinu's six symphonies in this boxed set. I heartily recommend this set to any aficionado of serious music.
Top reviews from other countries
Bryden Thomson m'avait beaucoup séduit dans des enregistrements de musique anglaise (Vaughn-Williams dans un anthologie des concertos, Bax en autres) : y prédominent : clarté du trait et vivacité du phrasé, sans recherche du spectaculaire. J'ai donc tenté...
L'écoute de ces disques est un plaisir. Cette musique moderne se rapproche parfois du mode concertant (grosso). La couleur des différents pupitres, l'énergie et le rythme sont bien là. D'un chef anglais de tradition (pas traditionaliste) on pouvait attendre une interprétation soignée mais dépourvue de la force aux accents pathétiques et slaves de l'écriture de Martinu.
Et bien non, ce grand chef disparu nous livre un Martinu de fougue et de feu ; ce qui montre une fois de plus qu'un artiste habité sachant motiver un Orchestre hors "star system" peut nous offrir un niveau musical de grande qualité.
Beaux enregistrements à la dynamique marquée. Une réussite totale.