sun 09/08/2020

Classical CDs Weekly: Martinů, Muhly, ELF | reviews, news & interviews

Classical CDs Weekly: Martinů, Muhly, ELF

Classical CDs Weekly: Martinů, Muhly, ELF

Czech treasures, breezy Americana and entertaining arrangements for horn trio

Belohlávek: matchless in MartinuClive Barda

A young American composer's work is showcased by a major label and doesn't disappoint. A classy British horn player enjoys teaming up with a pianist and a flautist. And an impressive cycle of 20th-century symphonies gets a welcome airing, thanks to a hard-working London orchestra and their principal conductor.

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The author of the review poses a question "You do find yourself asking why these pieces aren’t better known..." I have been a great fan of Martinů for several decades and can only repeat what several Czech artists have said repeatedly about Martinů presentation abroad... it is very difficult to push his music through, as the dramaturges have always considered his music somehow lesser, too ecclectic, not original enough, not fitting into their concept how good music should be written. On the other hand (they said) the audiences always loved it...

...and children too. I took an eight-year-old to a Prom two years ago (or was it one?) expecting him to be bowled over by Stravinsky's Petrushka. Which he was, up to a point (shame Belohlavek chose the truncated ending when I'd explained all about the ghost on the roof, which didn't happen). But what he loved most was the Martinu Concerto for Two Pianos. Partly it was the visual aspect, no doubt, but I reckon children can follow Martinu, like Mozart, without in this instance asking too many questions as adults do about the form. Martinu seems to me to be inspired in every second in his best pieces, so if you live in the moment you'll never worry where you're going next. On the other hand I won't be inflicting Nico Muhly's longwinded piece for electric violin on anyone I know, kids or otherwise, any time.

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