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Martinu: Songs, Vol. 1 - A Wreath Of Carnations / Wallingerova, Koukl

Martinu / Wallingerova / Koukl
Release Date: 05/31/2011 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8572588   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Jana WallingerovaGiorgio Koukl
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 18 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Martin?'s immense imagination keeps everyone on their toes with a constant supply of unexpected chords, leaps and other musical twists and turns.

Naxos have been good to Bohuslav Martin?: Giorgio Koukl has recorded his complete solo piano music in seven volumes and his five piano concertos in two; the Martin? Quartet have recorded his seven string quartets on three discs; Arthur Fagen and the Ukraine National Symphony Orchestra have recorded the six symphonies on three more; and Naxos have published seven other discs of chamber music, plus one of choral ( The Epic of Gilgamesh). 

Naxos also issued a CD of songs by Martin? back in 2005 - but then seemingly either had a change of heart or
Read more forgot about it, because this new release is billed as "Songs, volume 1". These are, however, new soloists, and all the pieces are different. Martin? wrote about 100 songs in total, so this is quite likely the first of three volumes.
 
There are forty-one separate songs in this recital. Though at a fraction under 80 minutes the disc is packed to the rafters with music, that still means an average of well under two minutes per song - in other words, these are not by any stretch substantial pieces, and it is fair to say that they are not among Martin?'s most important or profound works. Indeed, around thirty per cent of these songs were written before Martin? was even 23.
 
There are four songs in French - three anonymous, one by composer Gustave Charpentier - and three in German, to texts of Goethe's. All the rest are in Czech, from a variety of sources - anonymous or folk texts, Czech poets and foreign writers in translation. Subject matter is extremely varied, and Martin? reflects that in his music, with humour, irony, tragedy, whimsy, bliss and melancholy, without ever resorting to cliché.
 
This is Czech mezzo-soprano Jana Wallingerová's debut CD. She has an agreeable, flexible voice which she controls well. She sings the three Goethe-Lieder with a little bit of an accent, whereas her French is more wayward - an acute-accented 'é' here and there, for example, where none should be - though not disastrously so. She is naturally most comfortable in Czech, and although none of the songs is fiendishly difficult, Martin?'s immense imagination keeps her, Koukl and listeners all on their toes with a constant supply of unexpected chords, leaps and other musical twists and turns - all of which and more can be sampled together in the amusing Czech Riddles, H.277bis.
 
The song texts are not included in the booklet, but are downloadable for free as usual from the Naxos website. The translations are reasonably rendered on the whole, although some are less poetic than one might wish: "Tell me, Mother, what is it with people that they speak so ill of Friday? You are wise, so tell me, why do people shun the priest like doom?" "'Tis then we go tripping through woodland and grove." "Tell him he's stayed behind to water his lovely little horse."
 
The elaborate diacritics of Czech are present and correct in the booklet and the song texts, though the Naxos website itself remains a resolutely diacritic-free zone. There are some genuine mistakes in the song text file that should have been noticed by Naxos, however; not so much the odd typo, such as 'kioness' for 'lioness', but for example, in the third Goethe song, the adjective "holde" has been left untranslated, giving the rather dubious rendition: "Stay with me, holder stranger, sweet love". Likewise, the phrase "lebt der Himmel" ('lives the sky', i.e. 'the sky lives') has clearly been machine-translated to give "lives of the heavens", the German "der" having been nonsensically interpreted as a genitive plural form when it is obviously a masculine singular nominative. The second Goethe song has been wilfully mistranslated in order to make it rhyme in English - alders become willows, "murmuring streams" and "woodland and grove" appear from nowhere, a simple "dream" becomes a "midsummer night's dream".
 
Finally, there is a minor problem with the track numbering. The first 29 songs on the CD are listed correctly, as are those from 38 to the end. But what the back cover and song text file label as track 30, 'Song of November the First', is actually track 37 on the CD, so the CD is out of synch with the documentation for eight songs, with CD track 30 listed as track 31, CD track 31 listed as track 32 and so on. Sound quality is reasonably good.

-- Byzantion, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. Simple Songs (6), H 110 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano), Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
2. Lullabies (3), H 146b by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano), Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
3. Small Songs (2) in Folk Idiom, H 14 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano), Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
4. Songs (2) on Russian Folk Poetry by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano), Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
5. Goethelieder (3), H 94 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano), Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
6. Children Songs (3), H 146 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano), Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
7. Dead Love, H 44 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano), Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
8. Songs (2), H 31 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano), Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
9. Walk, I Walk Among The Hills, H 74b by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano), Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
10. How Dear To Me The Hour, H 106 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano), Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano)
11. Blissfulness, H 81 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano), Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
12. Tears, H 41 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano), Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
13. Mood Drawing, H 29 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano), Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
14. A Song of 1st November, H 72 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano), Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
15. A Girl's Dreams, H 22 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano), Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
16. When We are Both Old, H 10 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano), Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
17. Before You Know It, H 6 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano), Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
18. Night After Night in Dreams I See You, H 57 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano), Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
19. Songs (3) on French Texts, H 88: no 3, Night by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano), Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
20. Life's Over for Me, H 43 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano), Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
21. At Night, H 30 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano), Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
22. Old Song, H 74 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano), Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
23. Song On An Old Spanish Text, H 87 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano), Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
24. A Song About Kissing, H 27b by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano), Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
25. I Know A Nice Green Grove, H 273 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Jana Wallingerova (Mezzo Soprano), Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 

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