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Surprised by Beauty: Bohuslav Martinů – Recommended Recordings

One by one, I am updating (cleaning, linking, adding) the Recommended Recordings sections from Surprised By Beauty as they appear on the SBB-Website. Here's the latest section given this treatment:

Bohuslav Martinů – Recommended Recordings

Recordings of Martinů have exploded over the last 15, 20 years, leaving the intrepid Martinů-explorer with an embarrassment of riches to choose from.

The Symphonies

A magician is needed to conjure the magic in Martinů’s music. Martinů is such an idiosyncratic composer that the right performance is vital to bringing out its special character. Czech conductor Karel Ančerl made Martinů’s music not only tremendously exciting but almost dangerous.

His interpretations with the Czech Philharmonic reveal the sense of menace in this music (as in the crepuscular murmurings at the beginning of the Sixth Symphony). Despite its age, Ančerl’s 1956 recording of the Sixth Symphony (Supraphon), is indispensable. Once you hear it, you will understand how other performances fall short. Currently the Sixth is conveniently coupled with the Fifth and Memorial to Lidice on Supraphon’s “Ančerl Gold Edition”. Ančerl’s interpretations of The Parables and Les Fresques de Piero della Francesca are just about as incomparable and occasionally available on Supraphon. Broadcast tapes of Symphonies nos. 1, 3, and 5, again with the Czech Philharmonic, have once appeared on the Multisonic label and can occasionally be found second-hand. Their sound is dim, but Ančerl’s fire burns through... (continue)

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