Jiří Bělohlávek / Czech Philharmonic Orchestra / Bohuslav Martinu

Martinu: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 6

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Supraphon's Martinu: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 6 features Jirí Belohlávek and the Czech Philharmonic, recorded at the Rudolfinium in Prague; Symphony No. 5 is live. This is at least the second time around for Belohlávek and both of these symphonies; he also recorded them in 1990 with the same orchestra, but in Smetana Hall in the Municipal House in Prague, rather than in the Rudolfinium. These performances are thoroughly professional and straightforward readings that are nevertheless a little underwhelming in their lack of inspiration, and the Czech Philharmonic does seem to have a little trouble with some of the rhythm in the third movement of the Fifth. If one favors Martinu's high register writing in these symphonies, then these readings will be considered "good" as they are balanced toward high frequencies; while the width of the Rudolfinium is well represented, the low end of the sound is kind of mushy and indistinct. At one time, Martinu's symphonies were regarded as specialist literature, but in the twenty first century this is simply not the case, particularly in regard to Symphonies No. 4, No. 5, and No. 6. There are plenty of choices for these works available, and a little bit of research will likely lead one to a more satisfying option than this one, though overall it is not a bad recording and transmits the basic content of Martinu's music.

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