This mid 1970s recording of Gilgamesh, a cantata in three parts lasting nearly an hour, sounds wonderful even today and the performance for the young Belohlavek is 100% from all concerned. I haven't had the pleasure of reading the book, if that is the proper word, but the events chosen by Martinu (from Tablets 1-2, 7,8,10 & 12) are the story of a friendship between the natural man, Enkidu, and the great king, Gilgamesh. It starts with a contest of strength and then moves to grief at Enkidu's illness and death, before the wonder of wonders, the uprising of Enkidu's spirit at Gilgamesh's command, for one final (chilling) embrace. At first I found the conclusion unsatisfactory, but not so much anymore. What is certainly true is that when Martinu's inspiration is as fulsome as this, the emotional impact of his music is more than a match for any of the other more widely admired Czech composers.
I don't know if Jiri has programmed Gilgamesh in London but I hope he does sometime soon. Be sure to get a copy of this CD and then afterwards meet your friends and give them all a hug while you still can.