like Dvořák and Tchaikovsky before him Martinů pursued
operatic success like the quest for Grail. Success on the scale
of Rusalka and Onegin eluded him almost completely
with only The Greek Passion making a strong bid.
present collection of suites provides as sampling from his many
operas. Concert hall suites drawn from operatic material feed
the commissioning appetite, act as a persuasive ‘calling card’
for the opera and appease the composer's need to unlock music
that would otherwise stay firmly imprisoned in the full stage
Julietta suite created by Zbynĕk Vostĕk, is vivid
with the delightful woodwind sounding out for more than in the
1965 Krombholc recording of the complete opera. The three movements
of the suite include a bassoon-crowing echo from Le Sacre and
a Debussy-like wash of sound in the second movement with the stormy
onomatopoeia of Sibelius's Tempest prelude in the finale.
This work looks forward to Martinů's final impressionistic
phase of the 1950s: Estampes and Parables. Tender
and voluptuous playing from the Czech Phil. I do not recall these
tracks being issued previously.
22 minute five movement suite from the opera Theatre Behind
the Gate dates from the two years before the completion of
Julietta. The work is affected by Parisian jollity and,
it must be said, superficiality. The music is flighty and heart-warming
as befits the ‘commedia dell'arte’ plot and the Debureau dumb-show
spectacles. The reference points include Petrushka, Pulcinella,
Foulds' Le Cabaret (also Debureau-inspired), Prokofiev's
Classical Symphony and even Warlock's Capriol. Pleasing
music nicely rendered by the Supraphon engineers who give accustomed
emphasis to the woodwind.
Little Suite from Comedy on the Bridge is from 1937.
The music gibes and jabs with affectionate toyshop vitriol at
the armies face off across the bridge occupied by the opera's
five core characters. Sounds like an ideal Peter Ustinov vehicle.
the stern catastrophic atmosphere of Le Départ from
the opera The Three Wishes comes the post-war Saltarello
from the opera Mirandolina, a work headily and unmistakably
radiant with the play of light and the intersection of rhythm
of the Fourth Symphony.
is the first of a pair of discs in which the flagship Czech classical
recording company re-couples and reissues material from their
recent back catalogue. Supraphon have more. I hope they will release
everything for Martinů’s popularity is on the increase.
good cross-section then although for my taste there is an excess
of Parisian brilliance. The Saltarello and Julietta
suite as well as the grim Le Départ more than