Music and Vision homepage



Martinu & chamber ensemble



Record Box


The capacity for composition within the Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu was vast. Once his early dabblings with a stylistic language to suit his musical predilections were over he set forth within the generous boundaries of neoclassicism. Unlike many composers who have nervously tried this with little conviction, Martinu appeared to have found his metiér. His mastery of the neoclassic vocabulary was soon secure and the flood barriers were swept away. His swollen compositions list tells its own tale with the inevitable outcome of good and inferior music rubbing shoulders.

Martinu: Piano Quintets and String Quartet No 'zero'. Copyright (c) 1999 Supraphon a.s.His two piano quintets are from 1933 and 1944 respectively, thereby separated in time and place: his Paris days for the first [click to listen], his American exile for the second [click to listen]. The usual assurance attends both works, which also submit to conventional padding at times. Martinu has a dashing way with fast movements, especially when delicacy is required and there's glitter in the air. Taken as a whole, both quintets maintain interest initially. It is in subsequent hearings that your musical detection quivers with touches of irritation as some of the gloss wears thin.

The early quartet has movements that give promise for the future, but I hear too much that speaks stiffly and gives the ear and mind little nourishment [click to listen]. Strangely, the underlying thematic basis is the evangelical tune to Nearer my God to thee.

Worthy of note is the excellence of the playing from strings and piano: an ensemble with real rapport.


Copyright © Basil Ramsey, November 24th 1999 


 << Music & Vision homepage              Medieval motets >> 

Download realplayer G2 

To listen to the aural illustrations in this review,
you may need to download RealNetworks' realplayer G2.

Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Wednesday series of shorter CD reviews