Friday, 28 April 2017
Well chosen, BBC Music Magazine
I wasn't able to be at the BBC Music Magazine awards this year - too busy Snow Maidening in Paris - but at the end of my write-up of last year's ceremony, I pointed out that the Smetana Trio's disc of Martinů Trios was already on my shortlist for best of the year already (pictured above, violinist Jiří Vodička, pianist Jitka Cechová and cellist Jan Pálenícek) . It won the chamber music category at the 2017 awards, and Czechia has been going wild with excitement. What it probably doesn't know is the golden thread that led to the nomination - my Czech friend Jan sending me the disc, my pressing it on reviews editor Rebecca Franks so that it made the pages as another glorious Supraphon issue that might have been in for an award, of Martinů's Ariane and Double Concerto mentioned here, didn't.
As a Martinůmaniac, I'm of the opinion that Maxim Rysanov's disc of sonata, duos and Rhapsody-Concerto could also have won the previous year, and this absolutely delicious tetralogy of cantatas ought to do so in 2018 (that review isn't found on the hopeless BBCMM search engine).
Golden times for the reassessment of the last towering figure of the 20th century not to be widely acknowledged as such. And on 9 May you can hear Nicola Said reprise her Ariane in the final scene from that little masterpiece at this year's Europe Day Concert in St John's Smith Square. That's all I'm saying on the subject for now.
Frankly I'd have chosen the trios disc as the top award over Vasily Petrenko's Tchaikovsky Symphonies 1, 2 and 5, though I'm proud that I enthused over that one, too, in the pages of the magazine (again, the search engine on the BBCMM website doesn't locate it). The May issue had a riven choice over raves - which should be Recording of the Month, Paavo Järvi's Strauss Heldenleben and Don Juan with the stunning NHK Symphony Orchestra, or 87-year-old Bernard Haitink's latest Mahler 3? Rebecca went with Paavo in the end. And in the June issue there's going to be a spotlight on another stunner, leader of the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra Terje Tønnesen's transcriptions for string orchestra of the two Janáček quartets, the First also to be heard in the context of a thrilling adaptation of Tolstoy's The Kreutzer Sonata read in both English - brilliantly - and Norwegian by the actor Teodor Janson. It's the luck of the draw - months can pass with only three-star-max discs, and then all these glories come along at once.
Anyway, I'm proud that the magazine continues to flourish in difficult times. And now, on the BBC front, we have the Proms to get excited about - for me, it's one of the best seasons on paper for years. The launch is always fun, and that was another one I had to miss last week. A single highlight for me? Jakub Hrůša's all-Czech variations on a Hussite chorale with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on 26 August. On 13 August, before a double whammy of Rachmaninov's Second Symphony in the main Prom and the Vespers sung by the brilliant Latvian Radio Choir in the late-nighter, I'll be talking about the composer's use of Russian Orthodox chant in his orchestral music.