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.