WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Martinu: The 6 Symphonies / Belohlavek, BBC SO (3 CDs)

Martinu / Bbc Sym Orch / Belohlavek
Release Date: 09/13/2011 
Label:  Onyx   Catalog #: 4061  
Composer:  Bohuslav Martinu
Conductor:  Jiri Belohlávek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  
On sale! $73.98
CD:  $64.49
In Stock



Notes and Editorial Reviews

There are two great Martinu symphony cycles: Thomson on Chandos, and Fagen's on Naxos (a real "sleeper" that one, that seldom gets the mention that it deserves). Jirí Belohlávek started two cycles, one on Chandos, another on Supraphon, both with the Czech Philharmonic, neither complete (though rumor has it that the Supraphon cycle will be finished). Still, it won't be better than this one because, curiously, this conductor's previous efforts have been compromised to some degree by less than committed playing, so-so sonics, or both.

You would think that Belohlávek would be ideal in this repertoire. He's basically a gracious and elegant conductor, just as Martinu is a gracious and elegant composer.
Read more Take a look at any of his scores: fortissimos are rare. The dynamic range is classical, the tempo markings full of qualifiers such as "poco". The heavy brass are reserved for big climaxes, but the textures are usually very full, the colors luminous, the perpetually syncopated rhythms unflaggingly vital. This time, happily, everything goes right.

The BBC Symphony plays with impressive conviction and rhythmic acuity. There's a trick to this music: you have to hit the syncopations with enough snap to prevent the staggered entries from sounding like bad ensemble (the opening movement of the First symphony is particularly tough in this respect), but at the same time keep the music flowing over the bar lines. These players do just that. The performances are so consistent, and so consistently fine, that there's no need to single out specific performances. They are all of a piece.

If I had to pick, I'd single out this incredibly life-affirming Second symphony, or the equally dynamic but much darker Third. But as I said, they are all excellent. Perhaps the conditions of live performance account for the extra lift that Belohlávek gives to the exciting climaxes in the finales of the First and Sixth symphonies. The sonics are a bit dry in the bass, but that's life in the Barbican, especially with an audience present. At least the listeners are totally silent. If you want a complete Martinu symphony cycle, you can't do better than this.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Symphony no 6 "Fantaisies symphoniques" by Bohuslav Martinu
Conductor:  Jiri Belohlávek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951-1953; USA 
2. Symphony no 5 by Bohuslav Martinu
Conductor:  Jiri Belohlávek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; USA 
3. Symphony no 4 by Bohuslav Martinu
Conductor:  Jiri Belohlávek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945; USA 
4. Symphony no 3 by Bohuslav Martinu
Conductor:  Jiri Belohlávek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; USA 
5. Symphony no 2 by Bohuslav Martinu
Conductor:  Jiri Belohlávek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; USA 
6. Symphony no 1 by Bohuslav Martinu
Conductor:  Jiri Belohlávek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; USA 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook