Janková and Král Sing Martinů


MARTINŮ: Dew.* Unlocked by a World.* + Riding to See My Love.+ The Footpath.+ At My Mother’s.* Dream of the Virgin Mary.* Rosemary.* The Moravian Girl.+ The Neighbor’s Stable.* Hope.* The Night Watchman.* Secret Love.*+ The Wayside Cross.+ The Lads of Zvolen.*+ My Mother, My Mother.* Tell Me, Tell.* What Are You Doing, Hanka?*+ Hey, Ye Hill.*+ There’s Rain Coming From the Orava Region.* Tell Me, My Most Beloved.* I’ve Got Yet Another Sister.* I Had a Blouse.* The Evening Star.+ Hey, You Can Tell.+ I’ve Got Married.+ Eat Me, Wolves.*+ A Lass is Standing by the Tap.*+ Up the Váh River.+ Up the Hron River.* At the Trenčin Barracks.* God, oh God, What Am I to Do?+ Little Hana.*+ Whose Sheep Are These?* A Man is All Right.+ Don’t You Trust Him.* She Was Digging a Well.*+ She’s Got Seventy Skirts.*+ Lo, Meadow, Meadow.*+ Lo, I Had a Lass.+ The White Dove.+ From Behind the Black Hill.* The Folk Say.* I Kept Waking Up.+ The Lass from White Mountain.*+ The Rich Sweetheart.*+ The Abandoned Lover.+ The Longing.* The Inquisitive Lass.*+ The Merry Lass.* The Sad Lover.+ The Prayer.* The High Steeple+ / *Martina Janková, sop; +Tomáš Král, bar; Ivo Kahánek, pno / Supraphon SU 4235-2

This is an utterly delightful  album of (mostly) short songs by Martinů, all quite lyrical and tonal and mostly based on folk music, and one of the reasons it is so delightful is that both Martina Janková and Tomáš Král have attractive voices without wobbles and with wonderfully musical styling and excellent diction.

The song texts are generally as simple as the melodies; even the piano accompaniments tend to be relatively simple, mostly consisting of block chords and not very challenging for the performer, although in the second set (titled “Slovak Songs”) Martinů introduces more unusual chords based on Czech and Slovak folk music and the accompaniment sometimes becomes more challenging. In these, too, Martinů often repeats lines of text in order to extend the songs, creating long-lined melodies. If I don’t say a lot about the music it isn’t because I don’t like it, only that the essential simplicity of each song, though expertly crafted, is not as complex as most of Martinů’s music.

I should also point out that, except for the fact that it doesn’t indicate which singer is performing on each song, the booklet is outstanding, including full texts and English translations of every song. It is also a surprisingly long CD, running 82 ½ minutes, so it’s a good bargain. If you enjoy Martinů in general and folk-based songs as a rule, you’ll love it!

—© 2019 Lynn René Bayley

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