Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) - Madrigals for soprano solo and mixed chorus, H 380; Primrose for female chorus, violin and piano, H 348; Czech Madrigals for mixed chorus, H 278; Three Sacred Songs for female chorus and violin, H 339; Four Songs about the Virgin Mary for mixed chorus, H 235; Five Czech Madrigals for mixed chorus, H 321
Martinů Voices, Lukáš Vasilek - conductor, Grażyna Biernot - soprano solo, Jakub Fišer - violin, Karel Košárek - piano
"You know I am not a 'chorus' composer … although I may have made a few good choral pieces, I always somewhat hesitate whether I should plunge into them." Notwithstanding his humility, Bohuslav Martinů truly loved choral singing. When composing, he mainly drew inspiration from traditional music. He kept returning to the texts from František Sušil's collection of Moravian folk songs, a copy of which he always kept with him during his travels. In addition to their rhythmicity and modality, he was fascinated by the archetypal themes they treated, their grace and conciseness, as well as the directness, devoid of "metaphysics and pathos", and, above all, the subject of love in a variety of forms - happy and ill-fated, unrequited, betrayed …
The present recording features the complete choral works Martinů intended (according to a number of sources) for chamber formations. Even though created over a great time span, between 1934 and 1959 (the composer only completed the Madrigals shortly before his death), all the pieces attest to the genius and sensitivity with which Martinů was able to handle the folk texts and furnish them with a new musical form - simple, spirited and majestic alike. Lukáš Vasilek and Martinů Voices have made the best of the autograph scores, getting as close as possible to the composer's intentions, in all the articulation and dynamic nuances. Following the highly acclaimed CD of the cantatas (Supraphon SU 4198-2), the current recording provides yet another insight into Bohuslav Martinů's fascinating universe.
Bohuslav Martinů's complete chamber choral works, recorded in uncompromising quality.
“Performances are outstanding throughout. The voices are fresh and responsive, and Lukáš Vasilek once again proves that he is a true master of choral conducting. There is also an excellent, detailed booklet note by Vít Zouhar.” Gramophone, March 2018
“I discovered these delightful, quirky miniatures with Manfred Honeck’s recent observation that Martinů ‘remained passionately in love with Czech folk music throughout his life’ ringing in my ears.” Presto Classical, January 2018
“This splendid set is performed with consistent stylistic identification and address. The chorus’ clarity does not compromise its warmth and the tempi are spirited and ensure full passion. With an excellent recording and a full multi-language booklet, and full texts, this is a splendid achievement.” MusicWeb International, April 2018
“Chacune de ces vinght-neuf saynètes s'anime comme un petit théâtre, que le chef-metteur en scène illumine de l'intérieur. Lever de rideau sur la dernière fournée (H 380), recueil bigarré mené avec beaucoup d'entrain (Et tu t'imagines) pour mieux en reveler la saveur (De l'autre côté du Danube). Ce piquant, on le retrouve partout, jusque dans l'évocation de la Nativité du premier des Trois chants sacrés H 339. Lukáš Vasilek sait aussi jouer sur l'articulation et l'étagement des plans pour ciseler le mot. Un travail d'orfèvre qui supplante la concurrence, Kühn compris (Supraphon).” Diapason, May 2018
“The pitch-perfect singing of Lukáš Vasilek's Martinů Voices is always companionable, and I imagine there must be a special pleasure for native Czech speakers. But this is a treasury for everyone.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2018
“Dans cette succession rapide de scènes où le sentiment amoureux se manifeste de façon variée, les contrastes sont rendus avec grâce et élégance.” Classica, October 2018
“An attractive recording of some almost unknown music, and a must for Martinu lovers” All Music, January 2018
“Die Martinů Voices unter der Leitung von Lukáš Vasilek singen eindringlich, mit mitreißendem musikalischen Instinkt und artikulatorisch einwandfrei… Jakub Fišer auf der Violine und Karel Košárek am Klavier sorgen für eine stimmungsvolle Begleitung. Nicht nur für Begeisterte von Chormusik eine reizvolle und unerwartet erfreuliche Begegnung.” Online Merker, February 2018
“The Martinu Voices dance like an English madrigal group, but there’s no mistaking that they hail from further east. It’s an engaging (and rare) combination of dexterity and heft. This is the fourth release from Supraphon’s evolving Martinu series that I’ve reviewed in the past couple of years, and no one has had a bad day at the office in any of them — not the performers, not the engineers, not the annotators and translators (who have been brilliant), and certainly not the composer.” American Record Guide, June 2018
“The singing of the Martinů Voices under the secure leadership of conductor Lukáš Vasilek is a joy to hear. The intonation and blend of this 13-member choir is spot on, and they bring across these songs with utterly infectious enthusiasm.” Fanfare, October 2018