Magazine article Gramophone

Martinu: 'Madrigals'

Magazine article Gramophone

Martinu: 'Madrigals'

Article excerpt

Martinu [G] 'Madrigals' Madrigals, H380. Primrose, H348. Czech Madrigals, H278. Three Sacred Songs, H339. Four Songs about the Virgin Mary, H235. Five Czech Madrigals, H321 Martinu Voices / Lukas Vasilek Supraphon (F) SU4237-2 (60' * DDD * T/t)

This is a delight. Martinu's chamber choral music is hardly well known even among specialists, so this beautifully performed anthology of music spanning the years 1934-1959 is a genuine revelation. The title 'Madrigals' is used as a generic name for the disc: while much of the music here is secular, there are also two devotional cycles, and while most of it is unaccompanied, one cycle includes violin, and another violin and piano.

The disc opens with the composer's latest cycle, Madrigaly, for soprano solo and mixed choir, of which the most remarkable is certainly the third, the lamenting 'Na tom svete nic staleho' ('Nothing lasts in this world'), but the cycle Petrklic ('Primroses'), from five years earlier, is consistendy ear-catching in the interplay between female voices, violin and piano. No mere salon music, this is a colourful and absorbing distillation of Moravian folk song.

The Czech Madrigals date from 1939 and are thus contemporary with the Field Mass. The composer was not entirely satisfied with them but they were nonetheless given a first performance by the extraordinary Prague Madrigalists under the indefatigable conductor Miroslav Venhoda in 1965; the chamber approach of Martinu Voices is certainly more congenial to them than the vast resources of the Madrigalists but Venhoda's spirit hovers beneficently over them nonetheless. …

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