Jirí Kout

Martinu: Fantaisies Symphoniques; Fresques

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Somewhat overshadowed in life by his more revolutionary contemporaries, then eclipsed by the avant-garde generation that followed, Bohuslav Martinu is perhaps only now being properly recognized for his prolific output. This CD is a helpful restorative for this composer's reputation, and fortunately for listeners searching for attractive, accessible, and unabashedly tonal modern music, the three works presented here will be more than satisfactory introductions to Martinu's unfairly neglected oeuvre. Tastes have changed and contemporary audiences may better appreciate Martinu's sophisticated blending of twentieth century modernism and rich post-Romantic opulence without fearing the scorn of those who once regarded Martinu as a mediocrity or a lightweight. Indeed, the vibrant orchestration of the Symphony No. 6, "Fantaisies symphoniques"; the stirring, quasi-Mahlerian rhetoric of Les Fresques de Piero della Francesca; and the dramatic scene painting of the orchestral suite from the opera Julietta are qualities that most strongly recommend Martinu. Yet there is enough musical ingenuity, thematic invention, and formal integrity in his works to warrant an intellectual reappraisal. The Symphony Orchestra St. Gallen, conducted by Jiri Kout, are clear and vibrant in all three pieces, and Arte Nova's sound quality is fine.

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