One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
 

 

International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger              Founding Editor: Rob Barnett              Contact Seen and Heard here

Some items
to consider

  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
  • Mozart Flute Quartets
  • Schubert complete piano works
  • Sammartini: 6 Concerti grossi
  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
 
Tudor



CD and Blue-ray Audio


CD and Blue-ray Audio


CPE Bach Cantatas
a revelation


Biber: Sacred Choral Works
Don't miss it


Jonathan Dove


Tommie Haglund
Unique and Powerful music


Organ Fireworks


Highly Entertaining


A triumphant performance


Bruckner Symphony 4
One of the finest I have heard


A most joy-inducing recording


A winning partnership


A Lohengrin to treasure.

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959)
Ariane, lyric opera in one act, H 370 (1958) [43:29]
Concerto for Two String Orchestras, Piano and Timpani, H 271 (1938) [22:29]
Ariane - Simona Šaturnová
Théseus - Zoltán Nagy
The Minotaur – Baurzhan Anderzhanov
Burun, Guard – Abdellah Lasri
Old Man – Tijl Faveyts
Youths of Athens – Aalto-Theater Essen Choir soloists
Ivo Kahánek (piano)
Essener Philharmoniker/Tomáš Netopil
rec. August 2014 (Double Concerto), October 2015 (Ariane)
SUPRAPHON SU4205-2 [65:58]

Martinů wrote the one-act opera Ariane in the year before his death. Given its late date, the work seems something of a throwback to earlier neoclassical conventions. Martinů used a story from ancient Greece, which he set to music that is both austere and consciously imitating styles of the Seventeenth Century. It resembles Stravinsky's 1927 Oedipus Rex. But Martinů’s slighter work is a chamber opera, without the massive choruses of Oedipus.

Although Ariane is diminutive in scale, its musical qualities are substantial. Martinů’s terse retelling of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur is melodic, fast-paced, and demands considerable virtuosity from its singers. Martinů told his wife that he was thinking of Maria Callas as he wrote Ariane’s part. That story may place an unfair burden on Simona Šaturnová in this new Supraphon recording, but she is quite impressive. Her final lament, which takes 9 minutes of this brief opera, recalls Purcell’s Dido, but with greater fire. Zoltán Nagy is a fine Theseus, responding to the libretto’s demands for both courage and confusion.

This is a surrealist version of the Greek myth. Theseus and the monster he kills look the same, and are perhaps halves of a divided personality. Martinů’s other surrealist opera, the 1937 Julietta, was also to a text by his friend Georges Neveaux, and both works share a mood of stressful ambiguity. Martinů composed this work in a month, taking a break from the much larger project of The Greek Passion, his final opera. This new recording replaces Václav Neumann’s version in the Supraphon catalogue. That 1986 recording features tauter conducting, but a less splendid Ariane.

The other work on this disc is Martinů’s 1938 Concerto for Two String Orchestras, Piano and Timpani. The wonderful Double Concerto features antiphony and bleakness in equal measure, capturing the tension of Europe on the verge of war. It was commissioned by Paul Sacher, the Swiss conductor, patron, and pharmaceutical baron who had sponsored Béla Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta in 1936. On first hearing, listeners might well imagine this to be a sequel to Bartók’s work, with its searing strings and insistent rhythms. Perhaps Martinů was inspired by Bartók, or perhaps Sacher was explicit in telling Martinů what he wanted. In any event it is a glorious piece, here enhanced by the fine playing of pianist Ivo Kahánek.

Supraphon seems to be turning frequently to Tomáš Netopil as it makes new recordings of the great Czech orchestral repertory, including works by Suk, Dvořák, and Janáček. Compared to Karel Ancerl, Václav Neumann, Jiří Bělohlávek and the honorary Czech Charles Mackerras, Netopil often seems flaccid and relaxed, when his great predecessors conveyed tense urgency. Perhaps this is some sort of generational reaction to an earlier modernist way of interpreting these works. Perhaps I unreasonably expect all Czech conductors to honor Ancerl’s aesthetics. Netopil’s performances here are certainly good, but lack the edginess that Mackerras brought to the Double Concerto, for instance.

But I do not want to complain too much about a very enjoyable pair of performances of outstanding Martinů pieces, recorded in fine sound. If you do not know these works, this disc offers a welcome way of making their acquaintance.

Richard Kraus

 

 




Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical



Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger