DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Martinu: Ariane (Supraphon)

By Norman Lebrecht on August 19, 2016

Martinu: Ariane; Double Concerto; Simona Saturova, Essener Philahrmoniker,  Martinu (Composer), Tomas Netopil (Conductor) — Supraphon
Martinu: Ariane; Double Concerto; Simona Saturova, Essener Philahrmoniker, Martinu (Composer), Tomas Netopil (Conductor) — Supraphon

Martinu: Ariane (Supraphon)

★★★★ (out of five)

I am beginning to wonder if posterity will ever place Bohuslav Martinu where he justly belongs, as the last in a quartet of Czech geniuses, after Smetana, Dvorak and Janacek. With each passing year, Martinu (1890-1959) seems to recede further into the mists, his 16 operas unstaged, his six symphonies unperformed. Czechs find him too cosmopolitan — he lived most of his life in France and the US — while others are daunted by his mountainous output. There are more than 400 recorded works by Martinu, all of high proficiency. When the innocent ear catches Martinu for the first time, it recognises a  sound world that is at once distinctive and entirely approachable, ever the mark of a great composer.

The present disc consists of a frivolous, one-act French opera based on an over-used Greek myth, and a concerto for extraordinarily unusual forces. I saw 11 of the Martinu operas around the time of his centennial, and I wouldn’t rank this 40-minute shortie among the top three. Written in his last year of life, as light relief from the heavy labours of his Greek Passion, Ariane makes few exceptional demands on either singers or listeners while offering consistent surprise and delight. The coloratura soprano Simona Saturova sings the title role in this concert performance from Essen, conducted with dancing flair by Tomas Netopil. It is all over much too quickly, and you can’t say that of many modern operas.

The concerto, written for two string orchestras, piano and timpani in 1938, is a glorious exercise in spatial awareness, a test of your friends’ ears as to which speaker is producing what. Crisp, catchy, subtly emotional, it is — I guarantee you — unlike anything written by any other composer, dead or alive. That’s why you need to hear it. Except on Wikipedia, it hardly matters whether Martinu was as ‘great’ as Smetana, Dvorak or Janacek. He was a true original and an immensely appealing one. There are never enough of those to go around.

Martinu: Ariane (Supraphon) is available for at Amazon.co.uk and Presto Classical.

#LUDWIGVAN

Want more updates on Toronto-centric classical music news and review before anyone else finds out? Get our exclusive newsletter here and follow us on Facebook for all the latest.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.

Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

LEBRECHT LISTENS | New Album By Anastasia Kobekina Is The Record Of The Year (So Far)

By Norman Lebrecht on April 5, 2019

This recording with cellist Anastasia Kobekina almost slipped by unnoticed, but whatever happens in the next eight months, this is the record of the year for 2019.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

LEBRECHT LISTENS | New Boston Symphony Shostakovich Tugs At The Heart

By Norman Lebrecht on March 29, 2019

The Nelsons cycle is proving epochal, a must-have guide to the works of this great master. The present pairing comes with a bonus — his 1939 incidental music to Shakespeare’s King Lear, richly evocative and enjoyable.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

SCRUTINY | Richard Goode Was Good Beethoven, Most Of The Time

By Arthur Kaptainis on April 8, 2019

The ingredients, Sunday afternoon, were there: Koerner Hall, a big crowd, a program of late Beethoven and an American pianist of high repute, Richard Goode, who had the wherewithal to realize the glories of this special repertory. Most of the time.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.