Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Bohuslav Martinu - Kammermusik - Phantasie for Theremin, Oboe, String Quartet & Piano - Mazurka-Nocturne for Oboe, 2 Violins & Cello - Quartet for Oboe, Violin, Cello & Piano - Duet for Violin & Viola - Duet for Violin & Cello Nos. 1 & 2 - Bayer Records 2007

There isn't exactly a ton of great repertoire for the theremin. Indeed, aside from the "Turangalila" Symphony by Messiaen, a bit of Radiohead, and "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys, most listeners would be hard pressed to name any pieces written for the electronic instrument once pithily described as "that woo-woo machine." But imo the best piece of chamber music for the instrument is surely Bohuslav Martinu's obscure "Phantasie for Theremin, oboe, string quartet, and piano". The theremin can often sound "spacey" (as in the cosmos) and almost always strange; here however it is seamlessly and masterfully incorporated, at times almost sounding more like a recorder, to these ears anyhow. Written by the expatriot Czech composer in 1944 for renowned theremin virtuoso Lucie Bigelow Rosen, Martinu's Phantasie expertly integrates the instrument into a classical ensemble by using the plangent tone of the oboe as the glue to hold the work together. This is quite the soulful performance with the theremin player Valerie Hartmann-Claverie, the Stamitz-Quartet, oboist Lajos Lencses, and pianist Helena Sucharova. One of Martinu's most delightful chamber works I think!

Unfortunately I have to run to work, and thus I have no time to comment on the rest of this recording
for now... I do hope everyone enjoys...

Martinu_ Kammermusik-Tzadik.zip



Toon van Dijk said...

Many thanks and regards from The Netherlands.
Veel dank en groeeten uit Nederland.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks I haven't seen this recording before. Just as a small comment the Ondes Martenot is the instrument in Turangalila, Radiohead etc and is the instrument played here. The theremin is a different instrument. From what I have read Martinu sanctioned the use of the Ondes as an alternative as apparently the Fantasy was very difficult for the Theremin.

Joan Tallada said...

This is wonderful, thank you so much!

Scraps said...

Martinů was my first favorite composer (twenty odd years ago), and I think I still have the most CDs by him. Especially the chamber music. (My old favorite classical CD was the one by the Nash Ensemble, the one with the Nonet on it.) And I don't have this. Excited! (And two pieces for oboe!)

Johannes R. Becher said...

The first anonymous is right, the eerie sound in the Turangalila comes from an Ondes Martenot and not a Theremin. There are quite a few Theremin pieces out there, the most famous being perhaps the Spellbound Concerto by Miklós Rózsa. Not long ago BIS published a Theremin Concerto by Kalevi Aho.

I think some time ago I downloaded an album featuring Clara Rockmore on the Theremin that I didn't find particularly appealing. It's comprised of adaptations of pieces not originally composed for Theremin.

This album is quite nice, not only because of the Theremin. I usually find Martinu quite hard to digest, but these chamber works are accessible.

By the way, so far you haven't told us what your favourite viola pieces are.


Tzadik said...

You are welcome Toon!


Tzadik said...

Hello anon No. 1, well, "guilty as charged" am I.....however, actually I'm guilty "with an explanation"!
I know this recording features the ondes Martenot, however as it's listed as for theremin, and indeed was initially composed for the theremin-I lazily listed it as such. It has been performed both ways although yes the o.m. is a much more practical choice. As for Radiohead, they have employed both; I saw them in concert three years ago and it was indeed the theremin on stage.



Tzadik said...

Hey there Scraps

I love Martinu's chamber music, practically all of it. The Nash double disc on Hyperion is one of my favorites too! Impeccable from start to finish. Hope you love this one here-sure you will!


Tzadik said...

Hey there Johannes

Well I already confessed my laziness above so I will spare you from the technicalities of my legal argument ;)

The Aho I know of but haven't heard, however I like Aho and assume I'd like the concerto!
The score for Spellbound I know but it didn't cross my mind; last time I heard it was on the radio
in a program that also featured works by Skinner, Elmer Bernstein, and the great Bernard Herrmann.

The Clara Rockmore album I bought when it came out, and I too was not terribly impressed
by it; adaptations are best left for almost any other instrument, no matter how novel a theremin
disc may be.

Favorite viola works...I have so many! (yes, that's an "a" at the end, not "in")

I cannot try to list them all, so hear's a bunch off the top of my head (including your already mentioned favorites-who wouldn't agree?):

RVW - Flos Campi, Suite for Viola & Orchestra

Hovhaness - "Talin" for Viola and Orchestra, "Chahagir: for Solo Viola

Martinu - Rhapsody-Concerto

Oedoen Pártos - Viola Concerto No. 1 (songs of praise)

Hindemith - Trauermusik, Kammermusik No.5, Konzertmusik (Op.48 I think) Der Schwanendreher, and everything else!!

Walton - Viola Concereto

Nancy Van De Vate - Viola Concerto

Arnold Bax - Viola Sonata (in G?)

Britten - Lachrymae

Shostakovich - Sonata

Walter Piston - Viola Concerto

Jacob Druckman - Viola Concerto

Ernest Bloch - "Suite hebraique", "Suite" "Concertino for viola, flute & string orchestra" and others

Frank Martin - Ballade

Telemann - Viola Concerto in G (can't resist it)

K.M. Von Weber - Andante and Rondo Ungarese

Johann Nepomuk Hummel - "Potpourri"/Phantasy for viola and orchestra

Christoph Graupner - Concerto for viola, viola d'amore and strings

Vincent Persichetti - "Parable" for solo Viola

Max Reger - Suite in D Major

John Harbison: Viola Concerto

Honegger - Praeludium, Arioso & Fughetta on the name Bach

Cecil Forsyth - Concerto in G

Holst - Lyric Movement (Viola & small Orchestra)

Dello Joio - Lyric Suite

Max Bruch - Dbl Concerto (Viola and Clarinet)

Lars Erik Larsson - Concertino

Arthur Benjamin "Romantic Fantasy" (Violin, Viola, and Orchestra)

Harald Genzmer - Viola Sonata

Paul Chihara - Viola Concerto (also a chamber work for viola & percussion, can't recall title)

Richard Rodney Bennett - "After Ariadne" (viola and piano)

I will stop here, there really are too many good works out there!


Tzadik said...

Hey Joan-I knew you would enjoy this one :) Had you heard the theremin/o.m. work before?



Joan Tallada said...

Yes, but basically on YouTube. I think this is the first time I hear it in a proper recording. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Are these M4a files lossless like FLAC? I can hear slight compression/congestion in this recording so I suspect not.

Anonymous said...

Are these M4a files lossless like FLAC? I can hear slight compression/congestion in this recording so I suspect not.

Tzadik said...

Great to hear Joan, more Martinu is good for one's health!


Tzadik said...

John H,

These particular m4a files are lossy @ 320 abr. I do sometimes post lossless, which I choose
to use also m4a (same quality as flac, but the file sizes of m4a lossless are significantly smaller) as doing wav files or similar are huge and superfluous.