Tomáš Netopil, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra

Martinů: Les Fresques, The Parables, Estampes

Catalogue Number: SU 4295-2
Published: 10th September 2021
Genre: Classical
Format: 1 CD
This album has received following awards:
  • Classical Album of the Week, The Sunday Times (2021)
Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) - Overture, H 345 (1953); Les Fresques de Piero della Francesca, H 352 (1955); The Parables, H 367 (1957); The Rock, H 363 (1957); Estampes, H 369 (1958)

Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Tomáš Netopil

"And the sculptor fixes the likeness of a face in clay. And you walked by and passed before his work, and you glanced at the face and then walked on your way. And then it happened that you were not quite the same. Slightly changed, but changed." The motto Bohuslav Martinů chose from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Citadelle for one of his Parables also poetically defines the transformational power of his final orchestral opuses. Following the six symphonies composed in the USA, he wrote them in Europe, much closer to his homeland. The orchestral triptych Les Fresques de Piero della Francesca was inspired by the work of the Italian Renaissance master. As Martinů himself put it: "The frescoes harbour a peculiar kind of solemn and rigid tranquillity, abounding in strange, serene and moving poetry; it is the darkened coloured atmosphere I strove to express in music." The Parables is another piece in which Martinů reflected his philosophical ideas, with each of its three movements treating an allegory of life and human quest in the world. The symphonic prelude The Rock refers to the landing place of the English settlers who came to North America in 1619, as well as Martinů's own fate as a homeless pilgrim. Martinů's very last symphonic work, Estampes, comes across more as a fine drawing interwoven with silence than an impasto, as is the case of his previous orchestral pieces. These brilliant, extraordinary Martinů works are yet to gain the recognition they so richly deserve. The new Supraphon recording, made by the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra under the renowned conductor Tomáš Netopil, affords hope that this will be set right. It would be a pity to miss out on such beauty.

Bohuslav Martinů's late pinnacles - beauty and profundity yet to be discovered


“The performances under Tomáš Netopil are obviously idiomatic – these major scores are more or less repertory pieces for the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra… These are fascinating works, especially for British listeners, who don’t often get the opportunity to hear this music in the concert hall. The other pieces on the disc – an Overture from 1953, the symphonic prelude The Rock of four years later, and the three Estampes, the last orchestral work Martinů completed, in 1958 – are genuine rarities.”
The Guardian, October 2021

“These Prague performances, conducted with dedication and flair by Martinu’s com­patriot, Netopil, deserve to win more friends for this still underplayed music.”
The Sunday Times, October 2021

“There’s no direct competition – past or present – for this disc’s programme and it’s a useful and attractive one. To Netopil’s credit, this disc channels the composer’s self-declaratory DNA which strides fluently through each of these works… The music – and the artists’ making of it – is confident and imaginative. A familiar name (Jiři Gemrot) is in charge of the well-judged recording.”
MusicWeb International, November 2021

“Martinu had a gift at writing in a style that features a mesmerizing, hallucinatory quality that nevertheless moves with a kind of hypnotic, irresistible energy. All four of these pieces share this special atmosphere. Happily, they are all splendidly played and recorded here. The Frescoes, in particular, has been recorded numerous times, but this version stands with the best… Netopil charts a knowing and confident path through these haunting and evocative pieces; and as a perfect introduction to music of the composer’s last decade, this release is tough to beat.”, November 2021

“Avec le même orchestre que Mackerras (Supraphon, 1997), Tomas Netopil tisse une fine dentelle contrapuntique, raffine jeux de timbres et de lumière, déploie de très belles lignes lyriques.”
Diapason, December 2021

“Tomas Netopil and the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra succeed very well in their interpretations. Netopil does not complicate matters and offers honest and vital interpretations that bring the great symphonic frescoes to life with breadth and freshness.”
Pizzicato, October 2021

“Tomáš Netopil et son orchestre magnifient les deux ultimes chefs-d’œuvre symphoniques : le flamboiement des Paraboles est irrésistible, et la beauté sensuelle du Jardin réussie comme jamais.”
Artalinna, November 2021

“Netopil und das tschechische Orchester musizieren ohne Fehl und Tadel, können aber die fehlende innere Dramatik der Ouvertüre dadurch nicht ausgleichen. Von da an, also ab Track 2, herrscht aber eitel Sonnenschein: Vor allem in den ‚Fresken‘ brillieren Dirigent und Orchester mit einer expressiven Wucht, die einen Vergleich mit Mahler und Strauss nicht scheuen muss… Nicht vergessen werden soll schließlich, dass zu den Vorzügen dieser Silberscheibe – neben einem bestens aufgelegten Orchester – auch ein exzellentes Klangbild zählt. Besser, differenzierter, kann man diese Stücke kaum darbieten.”, December 2021

“Bei der tschechischen Plattenfirma Supraphon, wo man sich schon lange um den Landsmann hingebungsvoll kümmert, ist jetzt eine fein produzierte, sehr hörenswerte Neueinspielung mit späten, fast abgeklärt klassisch klingenden Orchesterwerken aus den Fünfzigerjahren erschienen. Tomáš Netopil leitet sehr könnerisch, umsichtig und farbensatt auffächernd das Prager Radiosinfonie­orchester.”
Rondo, January 2022

“I find all of these performance to be idiomatic and wonderfully recorded in Studio 1 of the Czech Radio in Prague. For those who enjoy the music of Bohuslav Martinů, this is another successful release under the compelling baton of Tomáš Netopil.”
Fanfare, March/April 2022

“Le point fort du disque reste pourtant les deux autres cycles, les Estampes (magnifique Andante initial) et surtout les Paraboles, où les cuivres obscurcissent le lumineux tissu symphonique, où les trilles de trompette répondent à ceux des bois dans D'une sculpture, où la finesse de touche de Du jardin convoque les textures du dernier Debussy.”
Classica, May 2022

“Les Fresques de Piero della Francesca might be his best-known orchestra piece… It glows and shimmers, sometimes like a will o’ the wisp, sometimes like a flaming sword. It is sensuous and mystical; its colors are strange but never garish… It’s still enjoyable and beautifully played.”
American Record Guide, May 2022

Bohuslav Martinů
1. Overture H 345 06:46
Bohuslav Martinů
Les Fresques de Piero della Francesca H 352
2. Andante poco moderato 07:37
3. Adagio 05:45
4. Poco allegro 05:04
Bohuslav Martinů
5. The Rock H 363 10:24
Bohuslav Martinů
The Parables H 367
6. The Parable of a Sculpture. Andante pastorale 05:40
7. The Parable of a Garden. Poco moderato 06:30
8. The Parable of a Labyrinth. Poco allegro 08:00
Bohuslav Martinů
Estampes H 369
9. Andante 05:13
10. Adagio - Allegro moderato 06:35
11. Poco Allegro 04:58

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