Bohuslav Martinů - Ariane. A lyrical opera in one Act, H 370 (1958); Double Concerto for two string orchestras, piano and timpani, H 271 (1938)
Simona Šaturová (Ariadne), Zoltán Nagy (Theseus), Baurzhan Anderzhanov (The Minotaur), Abdellah Lasri (Burun, Guard), Tijl Faveyts (Old Man), and others, Ivo Kahánek - piano, Essener Philharmoniker, conductor: Tomáš Netopil
"I am writing a new small opera, a one-acter, as I would also like to have a rest from the grand-scale opera, The Greek Passion, which has taken its toll." Martinů composed Ariane within a mere month, in the summer of 1958. The Greek myth of Ariadne, the daughter of Minos, King of Crete, who helps Theseus slay the Minotaur, has been set to music by a number of renowned composers. Martinů was captivated by Georges Neveux's drama Le Voyage de Thésée, on which he based his own libretto. Theseus is portrayed as a split personality, struggling with himself and overwhelmed by love for a woman. Tomáš Netopil and his Essener Philharmoniker have made a new recording of the opera some 30 years after the one created by Václav Neumann and the Czech Philharmonic. An extraordinary account of the title role is given by Simona Šaturová, whose final lament as the abandoned Ariane is simply breathtaking. Besides the opera, the CD also features the Double Concerto, a work representing the apex of the composer's French period and written amidst dramatic circumstances. Martinů began sketching it in the summer of 1938, at a time when a tense atmosphere dominated Europe, and this omnipresent fear and discomposure are also reflected in the piece: "... I have the impression that the tragic events, which we still remember … and this fraught atmosphere is engraved on these very pages." Martinů duly imbued it with his strong emotions relating to the fate of his homeland: "It is a piece lived through under difficult circumstances, yet it possesses neither despair nor gloom, but implies revolt, courage and an unshakable faith in the future, expressed by means of abrupt dramatic surges, a current of notes that does not stop for a second …"
A great story within a single Act - the dreamy Ariane of Simona Šaturová and Tomáš Netopil.
“This “light-hearted comedy” on the well worn subject of the Minotaur myth owes more, perhaps, to French baroque than to “grand” opera…The cast is entirely non-French…but Simona Saturova sings the title role with bright, penetrating, occasionally strident tone and has excellent support from Zoltan Nagy (Théseus), Baurzhan Anderzhanov (Minotaur) and Abdellah Lasri (Bouron, Guard)…Netopil conducts with complete conviction.” The Sunday Times, 14th August 2016
“This recording, made live in 2014 in Essen, is the first in around 30 years – and it’s very much worthwhile, thanks to a strong, idiomatic cast, conductor Tomáš Netopil’s sympathy with the score, and the Essen orchestra’s flowing, characterful performance.“ The Guardian, 18th August 2016
“Netopil and the Essen Philharmonic find a lot for the listener to dive into: cool, glassy edges (prominent piano and glockenspiel), pulsing strings and ritualistic rhythms that hint at Ancient Greece. Best of all are three chewy orchestral interludes that give the piece a baroque flavour, in mood if not harmony.“ The Times, 19th August 2016
“Netopil leads a fine performance, taut and finely detailed, and his players respond in kind. Šaturová absolutely inhabits the title role – her final aria is astounding – and the other parts are perfectly cast.“ Agora Classica, September 2019