Sir Roger and the Stuttgart Radio SO do well by Martinů’s final two Symphonies, respectively recorded in 2008 and 2003. (Part of a complete cycle, I wonder? Norrington was due to conduct the Fourth in Berlin in October last year, http://www.colinscolumn.com/a-great-symphony-martinus-fourth-1945-premiered-in-philadelphia-under-ormandy-walter-weller-who-recorded-the-work-in-liverpool-and-brussels-conducts-the-spanish-radio-television-orchestra/, which suggests he might have performed them all in Stuttgart.)
Symphony 5 (1946) is dedicated to the Czech Philharmonic, Martinů’s local orchestra (so to speak), which gave the premiere the following year conducted by Rafael Kubelík. It’s a piece of striking ideas, not least rhythmic ingenuity and sporting colours that are the composer’s own, suffused with a tension that perhaps owes to the recent World War, yet there can also be a playfulness that might be heard as a response to ceased hostilities. This music of serious purpose finds Norrington and his then orchestra very much in the music’s groove, especially the intensely tragic opening to the Finale, a movement that soon becomes joyous if edgy, alternating with sad hymn-like reflection before spikily dancing to an upbeat conclusion, here relished. Fantaisies symphoniques (Symphony No.6) was completed in 1953 for Charles Munch and the Boston SO (recorded by them), a vernal masterpiece also in three movements lasting half-an-hour, music that blossoms, buzzes, strides and soars in characteristic fashion, mosaics and chorales not least, a lust for life before reaching a satisfied if poignant quiet ending; journey’s end.
Once again Norrington is a sympathetic and perceptive interpreter, the players in top form, captured in good sound. Applause is retained, if too much of it. SWR Classic SWR19119CD. More Martinů from SWR please.
This is very welcome news. All attempts to record Martinu’s beautiful world of symphonic thought is to be seen as a sign of its entry into the mainstream repertoire not yet achieved in London at least.
The Fourth was performed a couple of seasons ago to acclaim. So when next please?
I bought the ten inch LP of 5 in Prague in 1968. Ancerl rules supreme even in mono. A simply life enhancing work where Beethovian rhythms come to dominate the finale.
No 6 seems to be the favourite for recording and performance but it does not necessarily mean it is the best in the cycle.
So please let’s grab this opportunity from RN and hope for more.
I also bought and still have the 10″ Lp by Ancerl. It is re-issued on a Supraphon Gold Edition CD, also with the 6th, which I bought in Prague. Now I have the wonderful BBC SO complete set of 6 symphonies with Belohlavek and the set with Neeme Jarvi/Bamberg SO. I can’t get enough of this wonderful composer. Only heard very few live performances in the UK, in Northampton, Bedford and London. Never in Birmingham where I thought Rattle might be persuaded to programme something. His time will come???