Album detail
Catalogue number: SU 4198-2

When, in 1955, the poet Miloslav Bureš sent to Bohuslav Martinů his Song of the Rubínka Spring, he managed to strike a deep chord with the composer. The poem was set in the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands, where Martinů had spent his childhood, a region to which he felt great affection. He must have identified himself with the character of an ageing wayfarer returning to his birthplace. Martinů composed The Opening of the Spring within nine days. Later on, he set to music another three poems by Bureš, finishing the final one, Mikeš of the Mountains, half a year before his death.

The cantatas represented for Martinů a significant link to his homeland at the time when the political situation, as well as, later on, his ailing health were diminishing his hopes for coming back home. What did he feel in January 1956, when at Schönenberg, Switzerland, he learnt about the premiere of The Opening of the Spring in his native Polička, when he was listening to the first Supraphon recording, or when he was reading the reports from his friends, describing the Czech premieres of his other pieces?

The new recording of the four Bohuslav Martinů cantatas (SU 4198–2) has been made for Supraphon by the Prague Philharmonic Choir, led by its chorus master Lukáš Vasilek, who said about the project: “Our account of the Martinů cantatas featured on the album is based on their new critical edition, currently under preparation. It has made it possible for us to perform them more in line with the composer’s in­tentions, as well as to rectify the long-time deposits of errors and aberrances, which were contained in the initial edition. The cantatas are far more challenging to perform than they may appear at first sight, hence we worked on the recording for a long time, paying attention to every detail. I firmly believe that this effort will be evident from the result.”

Bohuslav Martinů’s cantatas are now being released 60 years after their first recording, made for Supraphon by the Czech Choir and the Czech Philharmonic Children’s Choir, headed by the chorus master Jan Kühn. The new account of the pieces on the album, supported by the Bohuslav Martinů Foundation, meets the highest performance requirements and encompasses the composer’s original conception. Besides the Prague Philharmonic Choir, conducted by Lukáš Vasilek, it features a number of soloists, including the soprano Pavla Vykopalová, the baritone Jiří Brückler, the pianist Ivo Kahánek, the Bennewitz Quartet and the narrator Jaromír Meduna.

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