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Martinu - Syms.3 & 4 [CD]

Jirí Belohlávek Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: £14.61 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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 : Includes FREE MP3 version of this album.
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Product details

  • Conductor: Jiri Belohlavek
  • Composer: Martinu
  • Audio CD (17 Nov 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Supraphon
  • ASIN: B00008UEFJ
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 499,392 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
If you are not familiar with the six Symphonies of Bohuslav Martinu, this is probably the place to start, with the dark and brooding Third, and the sunny Fourth, a work which spills over with a simple and pure lust for life, infectious joy! If the closing pages don't get you dancing, inside at least, then I suggest you are missing something!

I do believe there are few, if any, conductors who know Martinu like Belohlavek, and these two performances are intense, beautifully played, and comparable with the best. The Czech Philharmonic may have this music in their blood, but their playing is out of this world here.

But so it was with Belohlavek's recording for Chandos of the Fourth, and I prefer that earlier version, for one reason only, and that is the sound quality. I suspect part of the problem comes from the recording venue (Prague's Rudolfinum), but there have been dozens of recordings made there where detail is not lost and where loud passages don't come close to greyness. Or is it just my rubbishy hi-fi? (No it isn't!)Part of the problem is also the composer himself - he was sometimes prone to over-scoring, but other CDs do allow the orchestral detail to breathe more, even Neumann's under-rated set from the same label (and same recording venue!)

Martinu was a fine composer and a natural symphonist, and there are few finer examples of the 20th century Symphony than his cycle of six. You will not hear better performances than these; you will hear better recordings!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Idiomatic Martinu 1 May 2012
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Martinu's Third and Fourth benefit from genuine experience in these recordings. There is no doubt that both Orchestra and Conductor know the music and can make sense of its complex rhythms and strange harmonies. All four movements are well paced, though it is possible to imagine even more drive and fire at the close of the finale (though the greater control exhibited when compared to Jarvi in Bamberg is very welcome indeed!).

Just occasionally the sound can seem a little raw - my ears suggest that fairly close miking has been used to tame a very reverberant acoustic - but the sheen and beauty of the orchestral playing is impossible to ignore. The Czech strings have a density of sound that's just right for Martinu, and the brass have a noble quality that supports the whole canvas securely. Woodwinds are silky and refined.

The Third seems to be a good deal more driven, and that's perfectly valid in my view. There is an underlying tragedy, yet no lack of fantasy when appropriate. I particularly love the bassoon solo near to the start of the first movement. It's just full of magic.

Although I prefer (just) the Chandos version with the same forces (mostly for the goergous recording and sheen of the strings) but would happily live with this as my only version. It's certainly Martinu in its most genuine and sincere form.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Starting Point 6 April 2010
By Ed Luhrs - Published on
If you already have Belohlavek's Chandos recording of the Fourth, I don't think you need to break the bank. This version is more refined and has more drive, but the other version has a lyricism of its own. If you are new to Martinu and his symphonies, though, I hope you get the opportunity to hear this recording. It is indeed among the best available, and the Third and Fourth are two great symphonies. The Czech Philharmonic has made many great recordings on the Supraphon label with Belohlavek, Neumann, and others conducting. Most Martinu recordings on Supraphon are excellent. This one happens to be especially good. The transparency of detail contributes really well to the building drama.

Martinu speaks in an orchestral language all his own - tonal, at moments dark and ominous, but more often than not brimming with sunlit optimism. It is a pleasure to hear, and I am confident more and more listeners will come to know it. Thanks again to Amazon for the MP3 download.
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