Thursday, March 22, 2018

Martinu, Saltimbanques, Songs 5, Jana Hrochova, Giorgio Koukl

One surprising thing about the songs of Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959). They show a very different side of the composer as compared with, say, his orchestral works. I have reviewed volumes in the song series on Naxos (type his name in the search box above) and now there is a fifth, Saltimbanques, Songs 5 (Naxos 8.573823). Mezzo-Soprano Jana Hrochova and pianist Giorgio Koukl do the honors on this volume, and they sound just right for it all.

What this volume has in abundance, as much or even more so than the Volume 4 I reviewed here, is an intimate Martinu that is modern yet almost completely outside of the Martinu style of his larger ensemble pieces. The music is more direct and at times very Eastern European-Czech folk oriented.

Some of the music here is quite rare, unrecorded, some believed lost until recently. None of it is ephemeral or ancillary. And it brings to us a Martinu we may not know well, but in its unpretentious way is essential, as essential as the more famous and spectacular works.

Get this if you value Martinu.

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