MusicWeb International reviews more Classical recordings than any one else.

53,555 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere
Normal service resumed


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas


Recordings of the Month


Beethoven String Quartets

Produzioni Armoniche

Seven Symphonic Poems

Shostakovich VC1 Baiba Skride
Tchaikovsky Symph 5 Nelsons

Vivaldi Violin Concertos



Beethoven Piano Concertos

Stradal Transcriptions

LOSY Note d’oro

Scarlatti Sonatas Vol 2

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959)
The Symphonist
Double Concerto for two string orchestras, piano and timpani H 271 (1938) [22:21]
Tre Ricercari, H 267 (1938) [15:11]
Les Fresques de Piero Della Francesca (1955) H 352 [18:18]
Fantaisies Symphoniques (Symphony No.6) H 343 (1951-53) [25:28]
Symphony No.4 H 305 (1945) [31:58]
Toccata e Due Canzoni, H 311 (1946) [26:23]
Paraboly (The Parables), H 367 (1958) [20:01]
rec. stereo studio recordings, 1956-2000
PRAGA DIGITAL PRD/DSD250389 [81:42 + 78:30]

It's one of Praga Digital's 'trademarks' to harvest vintage and classic recordings and repackage and reprocess them at an approachable price. There's no change here and the orchestras and conductors in a set dubbed "Bohuslav Martinů - The Symphonist" have their roots deep in the Martinů seething mulch. The performances are not here presented on hybrid SACDs, despite what the rear cover indicates (my thanks to fellow reviewer Dave Billinge for identifying this error).

While the exultant Fourth Symphony is the 'other' Turnovský version it scores highly for vigour and vim; a notch down from the Supraphon early 1960s version which can be had on Warner Apex. The Jan Panenka/Karel Šejna Supraphon version can be heard in all its tense and intense doom-laden glory. As a recreation away from the storm-clouds, and from the same fateful year, try Jiří Bělohlávek's Tre Ricercari. Relaxation indeed. Praga then migrate to EMI/Warner sources and give us Rafael Kubelik's spry and refulgently impressionistic Les Fresques de Piero Della Francesca. Last seen by me as part of a mid-price Kubelik collection and a mixed Martinů celebration - both twin CD sets. As I have written previously this version has "an irrepressible zest for life and a pleasing tension." Not content to leave things there, Praga move to another work from Martinů's fruitful years in the USA: his last Symphony. The Sixth Symphony was for quite a few years known only though this lovingly done Boston version and another contemporaneously on Supraphon from Karel Ančerl.

In the Toccata e Due Canzoni there's a tension familiar from the Double Concerto - two works that gaze at each other across the dividing gulf of the Second World War and are products of two contrasting continents. The latter work is also magnificently hypnotic in a way similar to Allan Pettersson's much later Seventh Symphony. In this extremely fine work I still lean in favour of Zdenĕk Hnát and the conductor-less Prague Chamber Orchestra on an LP from Supraphon which was never issued on CD (Supraphon ‎– 1110 1619). The recording engineer for that neglected LP was Pavel Kühn. Hnát seems lost in the work in a way that Jaroslav Saroun vies with but does not equal. The last work on this generously packed set is The Parables and this, as John Quinn reminds us, is a late work written in the penultimate year of the composer's life. These three Parables are inspired by two writers Martinů thought very highly of: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (such a pity Martinů did not live long enough to consider tackling an opera based on this writer's The Little Prince) and Georges Neveux, the writer behind the opera Julietta (all the relevant texts are printed in the booklet). This Ančerl performance, imbued, as John says, with "a valedictory ecstasy" is kaleidoscopically impressionistic.

The notes for this set are fulsome and have a shorter French version alongside the much longer English essay. The recordings are not the last thing in sophistication but they do not sell the music or the music-making short. The sound has the amicably belligerent power to induce meditation and enthusiasm.
Rob Barnett

Jan Panenka (piano), Josef Hejduk (timpani), Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Karel Šejna (concerto)
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Jiří Bělohlávek (ricercari)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Rafael Kubelik (fresques)
Boston Symphony Orchestra/Charles Munch (sy 6)
Prague Symphony Orchestra (FOK)/Martin Turnovský (sy4)
Jaroslav Saroun (piano), Prague Chamber Philharmonic/Jiří Bělohlávek (toccata)
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Karel Ančerl (parables)



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

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: See what you will get

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