Gramophone (UK) ..the disc is greatly impressive
June 5, 2018
Ivan Moody, Gramophone, June issue
This is an intriguing programme. Though one might initially think that it is simply inspired by the juxtaposition of the composers´ names, in fact they are both born in 1890 and their careers were both singular enough to make a comparison of their work a project of considerable interest.
Martin´s Mass has gone from a work hardly performed to a stable of the choral repertoire, and justly so: it is a composition of tremendous luminosity and great variety. This performance is not the most engaging I have heard – for that one would need The Sixteen, Westminster Cathedral Choir or the Vasari Singers – but the choral sound is rich and warm. There is something a little perfunctory, for example, about the Kyrie, and especially the Christie, which sounds rushed, but the choir´s response to the later movements of the work is deeply affecting.
In any case, the rest of the disc is greatly impressive. Martin´s wonderful Songs of Ariel are given a virtuoso rendition that brings out every nuance and are alone worth the price of the disc. But the addition of the choral works by Martinú creates a wholly unusual and effective balance in the programming. The Four Songs of the Virgen Mary are works of tremendous subtlety, and beautifully sing: while are peaks of the Czech choral repertoire, I do hope performances by non-Czech choirs, especially of this standard, will bring these works into greater international circulation. The Romance of the Dandelion is also a thing of beauty, and while possibly more difficult to programme, if you have a soprano like Klaudia Kidon, you are surely guaranteed success. Ivan Moody, Gramophone, June issue 2017