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This album with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and its artistic director, Neeme Järvi, features two mature works by Martinů, recorded in the splendid acoustic of the Estonia Concert Hall in Tallinn.
One of the most wide-ranging composers of music for the stage, Martinů was also enthusiastic about the theatrical possibilities of including new media in his operas. Špalíček
in many ways belongs to this experimental tendency. Although it was published and billed at its first performance as a ballet, it might best be described as an opera-ballet, as alongside the many dances there are extensive roles for chorus as well as tenor, soprano, and bass soloists. Martinů described the work on his manuscript as deriving from folk games, customs, and fairytales.
The lyrical Rhapsody-Concerto was written in 1952, at a time when Martinů was fighting homesickness and depression, worsened by the political situation in his native Czechoslovakia. The work is a marked move toward a more romantic sound world. The soloist here is Mikhail Zemtsov, principal violist of the Residentie Orchestra The Hague since 2001 and a prize winner at the first International Viola Competition (Vienna) and the Elisa Meyer String Competition (Hamburg).
The exploration by Järvi and the ENSO of hidden gems from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries has proved highly successful, their recent recording of works by Suchoň (CHAN10849) awarded the Choc de Classica.
Bohuslav Martinů: Špalíček Suite No. 1, H. 214a
I. Predehra (Prelude)
II. Tanec se zajicem (Dance with the Hare)
III. V palaci cernokneznikove (In the Magician's Palace): Tanec stinu (Dance of the Shadows)
III. V palaci cernokneznikove (In the Magician's Palace): Tanec lva (Dance of the Lion)
III. V palaci cernokneznikove (In the Magician's Palace): Tanec krahujce (Dance of the Sparrow-hawk)
III. V palaci cernokneznikove (In the Magician's Palace): Tanec male mysky (Dance of the Little Mouse)
Spalicek (The Chap-Book) Suite No. 1, H. 214a
III. V palaci cernokneznikove (In the Magician's Palace): Promena a tanec Kocoura v botach (Change of Scene and Dance of Puss in Boots)
Špalíček Suite No. 1, H. 214a
IV. Popelcin ples na zamku (Cinderella's Ball at the Palace)
V. Svatebni Polka (The Wedding Polka)
Bohuslav Martinů: Špalíček Suite No. 2, H. 214b
I. Tanec certu (Dance of the Devils)
II. Sevcova rozmarna zakaznice (The Shoemaker's Capricious Patron)
III. Trh - Tanec cmelaka (The Market - Dance of the Bumble-bee)
IV. Vysvobozeni princeznino (The Rescue of the Princess): Cerne mesto (The Black City)
IV. Vysvobozeni princeznino (The Rescue of the Princess): Nestastna princezna (The Unhappy Princess)
IV. Vysvobozeni princeznino (The Rescue of the Princess): Zapas motyla s obrem (The Struggle between the Butterfly and the Giant)
V. Tanec dvornich dam a venkovskych devcat (Dance of the Ladies-in-waiting and the Country Maidens)
VI. V zakletem zamku (At the Enchanted Castle)
VII. V kouzelne mosne (In the Magic Bag)
Bohuslav Martinů: Rhapsody-Concerto, H. 337
II. Molto adagio - Allegro
“The Estonian strings sing their hearts out…the woodwind solos are very lovely, too. Viola-player Mikhail Zemtsov impresses with the sheer beauty of tone”
“Järvi conducts with bags of panache and charm…Zemtsov plays with dark, moody lyricism throughout. The orchestra strings sound very plush…an affecting performance”
3rd June 2016
“Martinů is always entertaining and delightful and this is a useful coupling”