Martinu: The Epic of Gilgamesh

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WORKS: The Epic of Gilgamesh
PERFORMER: Eva Dešpoltová (soprano), Štefan Margita (tenor), Ivan Kusnjer (baritone), Ludek Vele (bass), Milan Karpišek (narrator); Slovak PO & Choir/Zdenešk Košler
CATALOGUE NO: 8.555138 Reissue (1989)
The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the finest products of Martinu’s rich final decade. Testimony to the composer’s broad literary interests, this oratorio brings to life with mystic intensity one of the world’s most ancient tales of love and the hereafter. If not quite as lyrical as the opera The Greek Passion, Gilgamesh’s hieratic qualities communicate with astonishing directness. This performance of the Czech version, made soon after the work’s original English-language version, has much to recommend it. Characteristically, Zdenek Kosler favours a strong dramatic thread and directs a mostly strong team of soloists splendidly supported by the commitment of his Slovak choir and orchestra. Jan Smaczny