A momentary opening of the heavens. Two symphonies by Bohuslav Martinů performed by the Czech Philharmonic
For three days late this March, Prague’s Rudolfinum was almost exclusively devoted to Bohuslav Martinů. Besides a rendition of Arnold Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto Op. 42, Jakub Hrůša, President of the International Martinů Circle, led the Czech Philharmonic through two of Martinů’s symphonies – Symphony No. 3 and Fantaisies symphoniques (Symphony No. 6). The performance was part of a project to record the symphonic works of Martinů for Supraphon and to create a complete audiovisual series of his symphonies. Read the enthusiastic reviews of the concert published in Harmonie, Opera Plus, and iDNES.cz.
Harmonie: Martinů and Schoenberg, a night for Jakub Hrůša and Mitsuko Uchida
“The innate, familial understanding that Jiří Bělohlávek had for the symphonic oeuvre of Bohuslav Martinů was always highly appreciated – his integral recording of the complete six symphonies, whether with the BBC Symphony of the Czech Philharmonic, are telling evidence of the fact. To say that Jakub Hrůša conducted both symphonies – in the best of the phrase – in the shadow of his mentor and friend, would perhaps be quite accurate and yet somewhat demeaning. I would even say that the energy, nerve-wracking tension, and drive of his approach was reminiscent of Bělohlávek’s vehemence at the helm of the BBC. All the more admirable is how he managed to imbue – not enforce – his conception into the Czech Philharmonic. The overall sound gave an utterly balanced and remarkably solid impression. It was a magnificent tribute to one of the greatest symphonists of the twentieth century.”
Opera Plus: Total Martinů
“Two symphonies by Bohuslav Martinů in one evening, that is an uncommon serving, but the music is so exquisite and Jakub Hrůša and the Czech Philharmonic gave it such a unique rendition that there was beauty and joy in abundance, yet certainly not as to be excessive. […] The third symphony is one of the composer’s most accomplished and most beautiful works. […] The lyrical tranquillity [of the third movement] was that proverbial “momentary opening of the heavens” that is in some way present in each of the symphonies of Bohuslav Martinů.”
iDNES.cz: Baroque hits versus modern experiments. And one conciliator
“Under Hrůša’s baton, the orchestra developed the enchanting music into its full glory. And, as is so often the case with Martinů, I was left thinking that this composer is something of a conciliator in the history of “modern” music, offering his own bridging link between intellectual sustenance and audience interaction.”