Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bohuslav Martinů – String Quartet No. 7 and opera fragments

   The first and still most comprehensive presentation of Bohuslav Martinů’s oeuvre was series of records published by Panton label. Fifth and last record program has character of additions - it comprises String Quartet No. 7 and fragments of last two operas Greek Passion and Ariadna. As a kind of bonus producers placed recording of Martinů’s voice made in May 1946. This recording features composer talking about his escape from Europe and first steps in US artistic life is nice. The series of records with selected Martinů’s music was starting level for next recordings in eighties. Of course the leadership has been lead by Czech artists. 
   Bohuslav Martinů was one of most consequent composers of neo-classical style in 20th century. Basing on ideas of Igor Stravinsky he started to develop his own style in thirties and shortly he became one of key neo-classical composers. Unlike Stravinsky who was permanently experimenting with various styles, Martinů didn’t turn out of his style so his later compositions were almost always in deep relations with neoclassicism. And he achieved interesting results also in his late works. In his chamber music this direction was clear and presented to his last works. In 1947 Bohuslav Martinů composed last of his seven string quartets and dedicated this work for his wife. Subtitle of String Quartet No. 7 given by composer is Concerto da camera. In three-part construction he concluded brilliant formation and compact exposure of neo-classical ideas with modern harmonic substance. 

Bohuslav Martinů – String Quartet No. 7 (1979)

   String Quartet No. 7 interpreted by Talich Quartet (Petr Messiereur, Jan Kvapil, Jan Talich and Evžen Rattay) is perfect example of highly inspired, perfectly outfitted work of mid 20th century modern music. Fragments from last two Martinů’s operas are hardly different although still related to neoclassical ideas. Composed in late fifties Greek Passion (1956-1959) and Ariadne (1958) are presented in short fragments – duo of Katharina and Manolios from Greek Passion and Ariadne’s Lament are presented by Alena Miková, Ivo Židek and Nad’a Šormová with Prague National Theatre Orchestra conducted by Václav Neumann. The cover art of whole series were paintings of Czech artists who were friends and coworkers of composer. This album exposes The Return of Theseus by Josef Šima, painting connected by subject with suitable Ariadna fragment.

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