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ON 4061
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ON 4061

Martinu: The Six Symphonies

The Classical Shop
release date: January 2012

Originally recorded in 2009


BBC Symphony Orchestra

Jiri Belohlavek


Barbican Hall, London


Ann McKay

Matthew Cosgrove



Philip Burwell

(No. 4)

Susan Thomas

(Nos 2, 3 & 5)

Neil Pemberton

(Symphonies 1 & 6)

Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 182:03
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Symphony No. 1

1 I Moderato - Poco più mosso 9:59
2 II Scherzo: Allegro - Trio: Poco moderato 7:25
3 III Largo 10:01
4 IV Allegro non troppo 9:23

Symphony No. 2

5 I Allegro moderato 6:31
6 II Andante moderato 8:38
7 III Poco allegro 4:42
8 IV Allegro 5:07

Symphony No. 3

9 I Allegro poco moderato 9:05
10 II Largo 9:46
11 III Allegro - Andante 11:33

Symphony No. 4

12 I Poco moderato 6:54
13 II Allegro vivo - Trio: Moderato - Allegro vivo 9:30
14 III Largo 9:47
15 IV Poco allegro 7:37

Symphony No. 5

16 I Adagio - Allegro 8:21
17 II Larghetto 8:29
18 III Lento - Allegro 10:42

Symphony NO. 6

19 I Lwento - Andante moderato - Allegro - Lento 9:32
20 II Poco allegro 8:07
21 III Lento - Poco vivo: Adagio - Allegro - Allegro vivace - Lento 10:54
 Jiri Belohlavek
  3 October (Symphony No. 1) and 9 October (No. 2), 19 February (No. 4), 19 March (No. 5), 17 April (No. 3) and 8 May 2010 (No. 6)  

Recorded live at the Barbican in London, these recordings represent the first complete CD cycle of Martinu’s symphonies conducted by Jirí Belohlávek. The critically acclaimed concerts were given to mark the 50th anniversary of Martinu’s death in 2009. Martinu’s six symphonies are a major contribution to 20th-century symphonic literature, and yet are still undervalued. Spanning the years during and after the Second World War, they capture the turmoil, hopes and fears of the composer and his homeland.

               Recording of the Month - Editors Choice

’Instant benchmark’

’....these are not Belohlavek’s first Martinu symphony recordings but I would assert that they are his short are now my top recommedation for the Martinu Symphonies. ...the ONYX set also has the benifit of Mike Crump’s excellent booklet notes’.

Rob Cowan - Gramophone magazine - October 2011

                     Performance *****           Recording****

"Jiri Belohlavek’s performances - recorded live at the Barbican in 2009 and 2010 - stand up very well by comparison with other complete recordings. As a whole, they are much to be preferred to those by Brydon Thomson and Neeme Jarvi, and also compare very favourably with Vaclav neumann’s much admired set with the Czech Philharmonic from the late 1970s. Belohlavek and the orchestra are superb in the first three symphonies. he captures Martinu’s shimmering, luminous orchestral textures and invests the pervasive ’sprung’ rhythms of the faster movements with an infectious bounce. Belohlavek’s emotional engagement is always complete, in particular in his deeply moving performance of the slow movement of the Second Symphony. he is equally good at capturing the storm and stress of the Third Symphony and throughout the set , Belohlavek’s grasp of the trajectory of the symphonic argument is at all times apparent....this very well recorded set is the strongest available to date

Jan Smaczy - BBC Music Magazine - October 2011      


"...Martinu’s six symphonies were played to mark fifty years since the Czech composer died, it’s terrific that these first-rate performances are now available. Jirí Belohlávek knows these works intimately and indentifies with them totally. He persuades the BBC Symphony Orchestra to a response of great sensitivity and vigour, as well as the necessary point and polish, to reveal music that is so distinctively melodic and rhythmic, superbly and exclusively orchestrated – kaleidoscopic and mosaic-like in effect – and which moves and inspires in equal measure...Don’t miss."

HiFi Critic - August 2011

"Martinu’s symphonies tend to divide opinion and have not enjoyed anything like the same exposure as those of his Czech predecessor, Dvorak. But if anyone can find the key to their language, it is Jiri Belohlavek. These fine-tuned, dynamic performances by the BBC Symphony Orchestra stem from a 2009-10 series at the Barbican. Doubters about the music perhaps need not apply, but there is plenty of freshness, verve and expressive wisdom on this set. " ****

Geoffrey Norris - The Daily Telegraph - 6 August 2011

"You won’t find a more persuasive champion than Belohlavek who has the music in his blood. his skill at unravelling Martinu’s rhythmic and textural knots - evidenced time and again in these live performances by the BBC Symphony Orchestra - is such that you immediately sense the stature of the music. the best place to start is 4th Symphony. In Belohlavek’s hands it sizzles - especially the Allegro vivo, a motorised march that generates fabulous momentum." ****

Andrew Clark - The Financial Times - 30 July 2011

"...These are performances that I will want to go back to again and again – something I never thought I would say about music by Martinu. This is unquestionably a major recording event." - 28 July 2011


"...anyone looking for a set of Martinu’s symphonies shouldn’t hesitate."  ****

The Guardian - 22 July 2011

"These BBC recordings represent a personal triumph for Jiri Belohlavek, who studied the symphonies of his fellow Czech as a student in Prague and rightly believes they represent a major contribution to the development of 20th - century European symphonic music. Those lucky enough to have heard his Martinu cycle at the Barbican in 2009/10 can now revisit his incisive and revealing interpretations and enjoy again the thrilling playing of this world-class BBC orchestra. Written within the space of only 10 years, each symphony employs Martinu’s thoroughly characteristic musical language to convey very different moods and emotions, from the epic first to the experimental, fantastic sixth. Recommended."

Stephen Pritchard - The Observer - 24 July 2011

"...massive, momentous and muscular..." ****

The Sunday Times - 11 July 2011

"Magic always happens when Belohlavek conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Czech works. No surprise then , that this set of Martinu’s six symphonies, taken from Barbican concerts last season, overflows with the same qualities that make the music so endearing; heart-warming ebullience, visionary fantasy, soaring passion, the most piquant orchestra colours.The BBC orchestra show full mastery of Martinu’s capering melodies, abrupt transitions and swirling textures. The  performances sparkle..." ****

Geoff Brown - The Times - 15 July 2011

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