Cookie Control

This site uses cookies to store information on your computer.
I am happy to proceed
Image

MARTINU: Piano Music (Complete), Vol. 2 (Giorgio Koukl) (Naxos: 8.557918)



Shipping time: In stock | Expected delivery 1-2 days | Free UK Delivery
Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)


Complete Piano Music • 2



 



Bohuslav Martinů was born in a church tower in Polička, a small Bohemian town about eighty kilometers north of Brno, in what is now the Czech Republic. His composing began precociously at the age of ten, after beginning his study of the violin two years earlier. Although he attended the Prague Conservatory, he failed to complete his courses. While a young man, he worked as an orchestral violinist in Prague before moving to Paris in 1923 in order to study with Albert Roussel. He moved to the United States at the beginning of the 1940s to escape the spreading Nazi occupation of Europe.



Martinů was a prolific composer. He wrote over four hundred pieces of music, some eighty of which were for the piano. Even though they constitute such a large portion of his work, the reputation of his works for solo piano has typically been overshadowed by that of his orchestral and chamber music.



This second disc of Martinů's music for solo piano begins with his three sets of Puppets (Loutky), written between 1912 and 1924. The three sets, however, are named in reverse chronological order. Puppets III (H. 92) was written first, completed in 1914, then Puppets II (H. 116) in 1918, both composed in Polička. The last to be written, Puppets I (H. 137) was begun there and completed in Paris in 1924.



While these three Puppets sets are considered as a whole Martinů's "first viable work," (Nadace Bohuslava Martinů, 2004) it was not the first to be influenced by marionettes. Like Debussy, Fauré, and Schoenberg, Martinů's imagination had already been captured by the puppet plays of the Belgian dramatist Maurice Maeterlinck, and in 1910 he wrote a prelude for large orchestra inspired by Maeterlink's short drama for marionettes, La mort de Tintagiles (Death of Tintagiles). The character names in various movement titles of Puppets, however, go back to the stock characters of commedia dell'arte which inspired much of traditional European pantomime and puppetry, while the music is that of stylized dances. To take one example, in the third set The New Puppet (Nova loutka) is represented by a "shimmy," a dance movement in which the body is mostly held still, but the shoulders are alternately moved back and forth. Flappers of the 1920s would make this modern novelty dance popular, and the name "shimmy" had been mentioned in American popular music at least as early as 1908, although the specific movement itself has earlier folk-dance origins. This kind of "new" transcontinental cultural influence in the early twentieth century would continue to affect the music of Martinů and many of his compatriots.



The bold, jazzy and propulsive Film en Miniature of 1925 is another example of Martinů's early interest in the popular media, song and dance styles of this modern transcontinentalism. The six-movement cycle opens with an energetic Tango, a nimble Scherzo, gentle Ukolébavka (Czech cradle-song), a Valse, a Chanson, then concluding with a sunny, ringing Carillon.



The original manuscript for the four short children's games, Spring in the Garden, has been lost along with information about their first performances. The cycle, which was written in Prague in 1920 and finally published there in 1948 only after Martinů had settled in the United States, has since enjoyed availability in multiple print editions. Similarly, information about first performances of Butterflies and Birds of Paradise, another "garden" cycle of the same year, is unknown, but in this case a manuscript is found in the Czech National Museum's music archives, published posthumously. Its origins are clear, however, composed during a visit to the Czech artist Max Švabinský, who owned a collection of rare butterflies and birds. His fame second only to Alfons Mucha, Švabinský primarily produced drawings in pencil, charcoal and pen and ink, but as a graphic illustrator is best known for his more than seventy designs of Czechoslovak postage stamps.



The two final pieces included here are in great chronological contrast to the preceding body of early Martinů, both composed in New York in the year 1948. The tender, emotionally fragile and sentimental The Fifth Day of the Fifth Moon, with its pentatonic scale and its permutations, is dedicated to Hsien-Ming Lee-Tcherepnin, the Chinese pianist and wife of the Russian composer Alexander Tcherepnin, who spent a number of years teaching in the Far East; the two met in Shanghai, where they quickly fell in love. The Tcherepnins' concert tour of 1948 may well have instigated the composition, but the work also draws inspiration from the poetry of Su Tungpo (aka Su Shi, or Su DongPo) as found in Lin Yutang's book, The Gay Genius: The Life and Times of Su Tungpo which was published in New York the previous year. The phrase "fifth day of the fifth moon" is more commonly understood as referring to a long-established holiday in the Chinese lunar calendar which commemorates the suicide, by drowning, of the esteemed Chinese poet Qu Wan of the fifth century B.C. in protest at government corruption, remembered today by the annual Dragon Boat Festival. Su Tungpo and other Chinese poets often wrote verse in honour of Qu Wan.



Dedicated "to my wife Charlotte," the Poulenc-like Les bouqinistes du Quai Malaquais is another kind of book-related short musical snapshot, one of Martinů remembering his lucky years in Paris where he often searched for interesting used books from second-hand booksellers along the embankments of the Seine. Although he found many benefits in his move to the United States at the beginning of the 1940s, Martinů often longed for the cafés, shops, and culture of his beloved Paris.



Mark Gresham



 

Facts
Item number 8557918
Barcode 747313291823
Release date 29/01/2007
Category Instrumental | Classical Music
Label Naxos Classics | Naxos Records
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Performers
Artists Giorgio Koukl
Composers Bohuslav Martinu
Disc: 1
Puppets I, H. 92
1 Pierrot's Serenade
2 The Sentimental Puppet's Waltz
3 Columbine
4 Puppet Ball
Puppets II, H. 116
5 Puppet Show
6 Harlequin
7 Columbine Remembers
8 The Sick Puppet
9 Columbine Sings
Puppets III, H. 137
10 Columbine Dances
11 The New Puppet (Shimmy)
12 The Shy Puppet
13 Fairy-Tale
14 The Puppets Dance
Film en miniature, H. 148
15 Tango
16 Scherzo
17 Berceuse
18 Valse
19 Chanson
20 Carillon
Spring in the Garden, H. 125
21 What shall we play now? Tag?
22 I think I should go to sleep now
23 Why shouldn't we play soldiers?
24 It isn't bad, is it, to pick a few flowers
Butterflies and Birds of Paradise, H. 127
25 Butterflies in Flower
26 Butterflies and Birds of Paradise
27 Birds of Paradise above the Sea
The Fifth Day of the Fifth Moon, H. 318
28 The Fifth Day of the Fifth Moon, H. 318
Les bouquinistes du quai Malaquai, H. 319
29 Les bouquinistes du quai Malaquai, H. 319
Write your own review
You must log in to be able to write a review
If you like MARTINU: Piano Music (Complete), Vol. 2 (Giorgio Koukl) (Naxos: 8.557918), please tell your friends! You can easily share this page directly on Facebook, Twitter and via e-mail below.

You may also like.....

Image
£6.99
Martinu: Piano Concertos Vol.2 (Piano Concertos 2: Nos. 1/ 2/ 4) (Arthur Fagen/ Giorgio Koukl) (Naxos: 8.572373)
Image
£6.99
Martinu: Sonata For Flute (Sonata/ Sextet) (Fenwick Smith/ Haldan Martinson/ John Ferrillo/ Rhonda Ryder/ Richard Ranti/ Sally Pinkas/ Suzanne Nelsen/ Thomas Martin) (Naxos: 8.572467)
Image
£6.99
Martinu: Piano Concertos 1 (Piano Concertos Nos. 3 & 5/ Concertino) (Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Orchestra/ Giorgio Koukl/ Zlin Arthur Fagen) (Naxos: 8.572206)
Image
£3.49 (£6.99)
Martinu: Piano Music Vol.7 (Giorgio Koukl/ Koukl Chiara Solari) (Naxos: 8.572025)
Martinu: Complete Piano Music Vol.6 (Giorgio Koukl) (Naxos: 8.572024) 8572024 01/06/2009 £6.99
MARTINU: COMPLETE PIANO MUSIC 5 (Giorgio Koukl) (Naxos: 8.572175) 8572175 02/02/2009 £6.99
MARTINU: Complete Piano Works, Vol. 4 (Dario Muller/ Giorgio Koukl) (Naxos: 8.570215) 8570215 26/11/2007 £6.99
MARTINU: Complete Piano Music, Vol. 3 (Giorgio Koukl/ RSI) (Naxos: 8.557919) 8557919 30/07/2007 £6.99
MARTINU: Complete Piano Music, Vol. 1 (Dario Muller/ Giorgio Koukl) (Naxos: 8.557914) 8557914 30/10/2006 £6.99
MARTINU: Songs (Jitka Cechova/ Olga Cerna) (Naxos: 8.557494) 8557494 03/10/2005 £3.49 (£6.99)
My account
My cart: 0 items