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This CD is a delight. Martinu’s four chamber cantatas form a loose cycle of stories pertaining from the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands to poems by Miloslav Bureš. Blending folk poetry, ethnic customs and the natural cycle of the seasons, this sequence drew from Martinu a straightforward, folk-inspired musical language. While at first hearing the cantatas seem innocent enough, at least one of them – The Legend of the Smoke from Potato Tops, which depicts the Virgin Mary descending from an altar to move among the villagers – forms the composer’s protest at the quashing of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956. All four cantatas are charming and deserve to be better known. The performance on this CD from the Prague Philharmonic Choir will surely win new friends for Martin ˚u and, indeed, for themselves, such is the quality of their contribution. All the instrumentalists and singers give authentic and committed readings.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica

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