^ Posted 8 September 2017
Reviews: BBC Symphony Orchestra, Jakub Hrůša (conductor), Svatopluk Sem (baritone), BBC Singers
"This was playing of an exactness so fine that at times it felt beyond human. Hrůša assumed rarely heard, rarely popular Czech works with a conducting that transplanted them onto another level of interpretation; an unearthly one. The repetition of a single, brisk motif underwent transformation with every new utterance. This was interpretative stylistic choices at an advanced level; a feat to which only maestri with inarguable taste and intuition can climb. In a time when most great 20th-century maestros have already passed, Hrůša lends a definition to sublime performance for this current era."
Bachtrack (Sophia Lambton)
> Prom 56: Jakub Hrůša raises Czech music to celestial Bohemian heights
"In Martinů's Field Mass, the choir acts as foil to the soloist, voices in hushed unison, mass (in every sense supporting the individual. Though their music is relatively straightforward Miserere, Kyrie and psalm, this simplicity enhances the idea of mutual support, reflecting the relationship between piano with harmonium, voices and soloists surrounded by atmospheric percussion and brass. The version we heard at this Prom is the new edition by Paul Wingfield."
Opera Today (Anne Ozorio)
> Jakub Hrůša : Bohemian Reformation Prom
"[Field Mass] was given a first-rate performance, its astringent harmonies, unusual orchestral textures, and almost-Orthodox choral homophony providing a balance to some of the lusher elements of pieces programmed either side of it."
Music OHM (Barry Creasy
> Prom 56: The Bohemian Reformation @ Royal Albert Hall, London
Jakub Hrůša. Photo: Andreas Herzau
"The highlights were Suk’s lush, atmospheric orchestral portrait Prague, which mixed the mad fervour of Tchaikovsky’s Manfred with the suave sensuality of Richard Strauss, and Martinu’s weird but gripping Field Mass. Written in 1939 to boost morale in the Czech army, it juxtaposed martial trumpets and drums, a wheezy harmonium, an anguished baritone declamation (Svatopluk Sem, masterful) and exquisite close harmony for the male chorus."
The Times (Richard Morrison)
> Proms review
"The highlight came before the interval with a revival of the Field Mass that Martinů wrote for Czech forces in France after the Nazi invasion. Less liturgical service than sacred cantata, its fusion of patriotism and prayer leaves an impression as singular as its scoring, and baritone Svatopluk Sem impressed in the monologues at the heart of this uniquely affecting concept.“ Independent (Richard Whitehouse)
> Prom 56: BBC Symphony Orchestra / Hrůša, Royal Albert Hall, London, review: Suffused with heady Czech sentiment.
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