Martinu: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 6; Memorial to Lidice
If you were trying to get a single disc to see if you like Bohuslav Martinu, try this one. If you were trying to get a single work to see if you like Bohuslav Martinu, try the final work on this disc. Because if Martinu's solemn, sorrowful, and sublime "Memorial to Lidice" as performed by Karel Ancerl leading the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra doesn't do it for you, nothing ever will. This is not to say that Ancerl and the CPO's recordings of Martinu's "Fifth" and "Sixth" symphonies are not both the most compelling recordings of either piece ever made, they are. And this is not to say that Martinu's gloriously lyrical "Symphony No. 5" and his gorgeously mysterious "Symphony No. 6" are not the twin peaks of his symphonic art, they are. But the "Memorial to Lidice," Martinu's heartfelt response to the Nazi's razing of the village of Lidice, is in another class altogether. Stark, solemn, and sublime, the "Memorial to Lidice" is arguably Martinu's masterpiece and while its gravitas is unlike most of Martinu's light and colorful music, its depth and profundity make it his most overwhelming work. Supraphon's remastered sound is a bit distant but honest.