Martinu: Bouquet of Flowers; Symphony No. 3

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WORKS: Bouquet of Flowers; Symphony No. 3
PERFORMER: Libuse Domanínská (soprano), Son×a Cervená (alto), Lubomír Havlák (tenor), Ladislav Mráz (bass); Czech PO & Chorus/Karel Ancerl
CATALOGUE NO: PR 254 061 ADD mono
Between June and December 1944 – a period that marked the completion and first performance of Martinu’s Third Sympony – Karel Ancerl’s parents, first wife and son perished in the gas chambers at Auschwitz. Twenty-two years later Ancerl took to the rostrum for a performance of that same symphony: powerful, defiant yet with a redeeming nobility that makes each encounter more moving than the last. This is a 1966 live broadcast and the sound, although perfectly clear and surprisingly dynamic, is in mono. Likewise, Bouquet of Flowers, an irresistible folk cantata that opens with a heavily accented Overture and then goes on to feature an especially beautiful idyll for orchestra, a polka-style ‘Intrada’ and a disquieting finale, ‘Man and Death’. So, if you liked our July Gilgamesh cover-CD, you’ll love the Bouquet; and if you admire Ancerl’s 1955 Supraphon recording, you’ll certainly recognise this one on Praga. Why? Because they’re the same. Praga gives the recording date as 13 September 1967, Supraphon as 2 May 1955. As to choices, it depends whether you want the Third Symphony (Praga) or the Fifth (Supraphon). Praga’s sound is marginally warmer. Robert Cowan