Here, on this invaluable
disc, are three composer-conducted performances.
All are from live concerts freed of
the emotional constipation of the studio.
These are mono recordings - surprising
given the 1970 Radio Suisse Romande
provenance of the Symphonie and
the Triptychon. It is perhaps
understandable in the case of the Berlin
There is no shortage
of recordings of the Petite Symphonie.
My reference is the LPO/Bamert on Chandos.
The Jecklin version is rather treble-blunted
by comparison. While perfectly respectable
this is not the sort of top-flight sound
you may have heard from BBC Radio 3
transcriptions of the same era. The
intensity of atmosphere is however incomparable.
The work emerges as more likeable and
emotionally colourful than in any version
I have heard previously. The sense of
profound depths, dark reefs and the
sort of chasmal fear eloquent in Martinů's
Concerto for Piano, Strings and Timpani
is almost tangible; it was
written in 1944. There is hardly a cough
- there are some in the second movement,
around 5.50. This is music that proclaims
integrity but has no surface glamour
- a Protestant eloquence.
is a work of almost a quarter
century later. There is an Ave Maria,
a Magnificat and a Stabat
Mater. The Magnificat came
first - written for Schneiderhan and
Seefried. It was premiered by them in
Lucerne in 1968 with Haitink conducting.
The composer realised the work was too
short and then composed the flanking
Ave Maria and Stabat Mater.
Martin's language has not changed. His
integrity and sincere engagement is
never in doubt. If you enjoy the works
of Alan Rawsthorne or Peter Racine Fricker
then I am sure you will appreciate this
powerful and at time beautiful and devout
piece. The Stabat Mater's unremitting
stabbing pain across seven minutes is
well captured by Seefried's mezzoish
soprano voice and Schneiderhan's classically
pure tone. The Triptychon is
a work of unwavering conviction - surely
one of Martin's finest works alongside
In terra Pax and the Requiem.
is an arrangement of a piece
first written for organ solo in 1944.
In 1952 Martin made an arrangement for
string orchestra for Karl Münchinger.
Ten years later he made this version
for full orchestra and the present recording
is of the composer-conducted Berlin
premiere. Once again there is no surface
dazzle; that is not Martin's way. The
music has a grandeur of concentration
and again that word 'integrity' - Martin
discovered his own radiance in integrity.
This work acts as an orchestral epitome
of his life's message blended with a
Bach-like spirit. There are a few transient
moments of distortion but nothing to
put off the earnest seeker after Martin's
The Triptychon poems
are printed in the booklet in the full
German text with English and French
The notes tend towards
technicality although including some
biographical background and are by the
The whole product breathes
authenticity and authority in putting
across Martin's sincere devotion to
his Truth. The recordings present incomparable
testimony direct from the composer at
the age of eighty and seventy three.
I wonder whether these performances
would have had such tense and grave
poise had they been recorded when he
was forty or fifty?
for all Martin devotees.