Netopil’s Fine Martinu Explorations Continue

Review by: David Hurwitz

MartinuNet

Artistic Quality: 10

Sound Quality: 9

Supraphon has very good recordings of all of this music, and their lack of availability hitherto was concerning; but if the idea is to replace those older versions with excellent new ones such as this, we should be fine. This release features the lion’s share of Martinu’s last major orchestral works, all composed between 1953 and his death in 1959. The brief, neo-baroque Overture was written in 1953, after which the composer forgot about it completely. He literally had no recollection of it at all, and it’s delightful, but it’s the four bigger works that really seal the deal.

The Frescoes of Piero della Francesca, The Rock (as in Plymouth and the Pilgrims), The Parables and the Estampes (“Prints”) are all cut from the same cloth. It doesn’t matter what the alleged “program” is. They are by turns dreamy, rhythmically energetic, lyrical and somehow disturbing. Just listen to them as pure music. Martinu had a gift at writing in a style that features a mesmerizing, hallucinatory quality that nevertheless moves with a kind of hypnotic, irresistible energy. All four of these pieces share this special atmosphere.

Happily, they are all splendidly played and recorded here. The Frescoes, in particular, has been recorded numerous times, but this version stands with the best. Netopil takes his time over the first movement, only to permit us to revel in its lush proliferation of tiny coloristic details, but the finale has plenty of excitement. In other words, Netopil charts a knowing and confident path through these haunting and evocative pieces; and as a perfect introduction to music of the composer’s last decade, this release is tough to beat.



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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Parables and Estampes: Ancerl (Supraphon)

  • MARTINU, BOHUSLAV:
    Overture; The Frescoes of Piero della Francesca; The Rock; The Parables; Estampes

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