“Martinu: Nipponari, Magic Nights and Czech Rhapsody”
Ceská rapsodie – Cantata for baritone, mixed choir, organ and orchestra H118,
Kouzelné noci – Three songs on Chinese texts for soprano and orchestra H119,
Nipponari – Cycle of seven songs for female voice and small orchestra, H68.
Ivan Kusnjer (Baritone), Dagmar Peckova (Mezzo-Soprano), Lubica Rybarská (Soprano).
Kühn Mixed Choir.
Prague Symphony Orchestra – Jiří Bělohlávek.
All three of these compositions open the imaginative world of the young Martinu to the listener, providing a glimpse into his early works for voice and orchestra. Nipponari and Magic Nights were both inspired by exotic texts. The works of Japanese poets used in Nipponari are infused with a wistful, dreamy mood which is masterfully captured by Martinu’s unusual instrumentation and subtle compositional technique. For his Impressionistic Magic Nights he instinctively chose texts about sorrow in a distant land far from home, unaware that this theme would play a fateful role in his own life. Mahler, incidentally, drew on the same collection of poems for his song cycle Das Lied von der Erde. The general nationalistic fervor of 1918 and the thought of national independence are reflected in the Czech Rhapsody – released here for the first time on CD – particularly in his use of the Hymn “Saint Wenceslas” (patron saint of the Czech nation), and the premiere of this work was a tremendous success for Martinu. It is difficult to imagine a more competent and sensitive interpretation of these works than you will find in these time-tested recordings by conductor Jiri Belohlavek and outstanding soloists.