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Martinu: Symphony 5 & 6

Album Summary

>Martinu, Bohuslav : Symphony no 5
>Martinu, Bohuslav : Symphony no 6 ("Fantaisies symphoniques"), H. 343
Conductor Ensemble
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Notes & Reviews:

This eagerly awaited CD, the second in a planned complete set, presents the composer's last two symphonies, both written during his post-war sojourn in America. Symphony No. 5 was finished in 1946 and reflects Martinu's doubt and disenchantment over developments in Czechoslovakia, the homeland to which he would never return. His last symphony, dedicated to his friend Charles Munch, then conductor of the Boston Symphony, was written during the years 1951-53. The wideranging and colorful orchestration of the "Symphonic Fantasies", as Martinu himself titled it, marked a return to the symphonism and traditions of the late-Romantic music of the late 19th/early 20th centuries. On this album, Jiri Belohlavek leads the Czech Philharmonic in a tribute to a composer on whose works he has been focusing for decades.

" Martinu's final two symphonies sit, Janus-faced, across his later orchestral output. The Fifth (1946) was the culmination of the symphony-a-year series begun in 1942 although its outward demeanour and internal structure and processes are very different to its predecessors. Its tripartite format, however different in design to that of No 3, is the precursor to those of the Sixth (1951 53) and its successors Les fresques de Piero della Francesca and Parables.

Nos 5 and 6 also inhabit radically different sound worlds to each other, the Fifth more outwardly abstract - although there is no doubting the unalloyed joy achieved at the finale's climax - while the Sixth, as its subtitle suggests, explores deep veins of fantasy. The performances are rather unalike as well, even though both were recorded in Prague's wonderful Rudolfinum, No 5 live at the 2007 Martinu Festival while No 6 followed last May without an audience.

Both works are splendidly rendered with No 5 best of all, a vivid interpretation benefiting from the buzz of a live performance. Belohlávek gets the balance in the tricky finale just right, letting the mood progression of sadness-joy-determination flow organically and logically.

Much as I love Nos 4 and 6, this is the type of performance that convinces me that the Fifth is the greatest of the symphonies. By comparison, No 6, fantastical though it is, seems a mite deliberate and clinical. Both recordings strike me as superior to his previous outings and have better sound than the classic Ancerl. Järvi's somewhat un-Czech No 6 still edges the top recommendation for me, though in No 5 honours now are even. A richly rewarding disc." -Gramophone Awards, 2010 / Orchestral nominee

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Rudolfinum, Prague.


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Works Details

>Martinu, Bohuslav : Symphony no 5
  • Conductor: Jirí Belohlávek
  • Notes: Rudolfinum, Prague (12/14/2007-12/15/2007)
  • Running Time: 29 min. 8 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 02/1946-05/1946
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Martinu, Bohuslav : Symphony no 6 ("Fantaisies symphoniques"), H. 343
  • Conductor: Jirí Belohlávek
  • Notes: Rudolfinum, Prague (05/04/2009-05/07/2009)
  • Running Time: 28 min. 36 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern