Jiří Bělohlávek / Frantisek Jilek

Martinu: Spalícek; The Spectre's Bride; The Romance of the Dandelions; The Primrose

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AllMusic Review by

Though this two-disc set is clearly only for the hardcore Martinu fan, its diversity, individuality, and high spirits are a thrill. The biggest work is the Spalicek, a ballet with singing in three acts scored for soprano, tenor, and bass soloists; children's choir; women's choir; and orchestra lasting an hour and a half. Variously translated as "The Chap-Book" and "The Czech Year" and described by the composer as a "ballet from folk games, customs and fairytales," Spalicek resists easy characterization. Imagine a Technicolor version of Stravinsky's Les Noces based on Czech rather than Russian folk songs with catchier tunes and more buoyant rhythms and you'll have some idea of what to expect. Also included here are The Specter's Bride, a ballade for soprano, tenor, and bass soloists and choir and orchestra; The Romance of the Dandelions, a chamber cantata for soprano and mixed chorus; and The Primrose, five duets on folk songs for soprano and alto with violin and piano. Although the performances of all four works are more than acceptable, Jirí Belohlávek and the Prague Symphony outshine the work of Frantisek Jilek and the Brno Philharmonic. That unevenness aside, these were the only recordings of these works available when the disc was issued (and may be still), and so they will all have to do. Recorded in digital in the mid-'80s, Supraphon's sound is bright, colorful, and a bit shallow.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Spalícek (The Chap-Book), ballet, H. 214
1
3:34 Amazon
2
2:06 Amazon
3
0:57 Amazon
4
1:23 Amazon
5
3:30 Amazon
6
1:33 Amazon
7
1:32 Amazon
8
0:41 Amazon
9
2:44
10
2:26 Amazon
11
1:17 Amazon
12
0:36 Amazon
13
1:26 Amazon
14
0:25 Amazon
15
0:44 Amazon
16
0:32 Amazon
17
0:25 Amazon
18
0:16 Amazon
19
0:57 Amazon
20
0:37 Amazon
21
0:52 Amazon
22
2:06 Amazon
23
0:38 Amazon
24
1:11 Amazon
25
0:44 Amazon
26
1:56 Amazon
27
1:14 Amazon
28
1:51 Amazon
29
1:03 Amazon
30
0:28 Amazon
31
2:08 Amazon
32
0:35 Amazon
33
3:57 Amazon
34
1:11 Amazon
35
0:53 Amazon
36
1:26 Amazon
37
2:18 Amazon
38
2:41 Amazon
39
3:17 Amazon
40
1:38 Amazon
41
1:28 Amazon
42
2:23 Amazon
43
8:47 Amazon
44
3:40 Amazon
45
3:06 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Spalícek (The Chap-Book), ballet, H. 214
1
1:20
2
6:09
3
0:53
4
1:04
5
1:32
6
1:10
7
0:53
8
2:39
9
2:43
10
27:17
11
13:11
Petrklíc (Primrose), duets (5) for soprano, alto, violin & piano, H. 348
12
0:52
13
1:08
14
2:14
15
1:27
16
0:54
blue highlight denotes track pick