Martinu: Cantatas (CD)

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Bennewitz Quartet & Prague Philharmonic Choir, Lukas Vasilek

Pavla Vykopalova (soprano), Ludmila Hudeckova (contralto), Martin Slavik (tenor), Jiri Bruckler (baritone), Petr Svoboda (baritone), Jaromir Meduna (recitation) & Ivo Kahanek (piano)

Members of the Bennewitz Quartet & Prague Philharmonic Choir, Lukas Vasilek

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When Miloslav Bureš sent his first poem Song of the Ruby Spring to Bohuslav Martinů in 1955, he seemed to have touched the deepest spot of the composer’s heart. The poet set his verses into the landscape of the Czech Highlands, the region of Martinů’s childhood and a rich source of his memories. The composer must have identified strongly with the character of the pilgrim returning to his birthplace, because he wrote The Opening of the Springs within nine days. Later he set to music three more poems by Bureš, finishing the last one, Mikeš of the Mountains, half a year before his death. For Martinů, the cantatas represented an important link to his homeland at a time when the political situation and later also his poor health were diminishing his hopes of coming back home. One can only imagine what he felt when he was sitting in Schönenberg, Switzerland, listening to the vinyl record with the first recording of his Opening of the Springs published by Supraphon, or when his friends were sending him reports about the Czech premieres of his works...

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“The Prague choir gets the balance right: vivid character and resonant voices but never saccharine and rhythmically taut. This is the ensemble that premiered three of the cantatas (in a previous guise) and it’s hard to imagine singing of more authority in Martinů’s music.” The Guardian