Muzyka Klasyczna The best music site on the web there is where you can read about and listen to blues, jazz, classical music and much more. This is your ultimate music resource. Tons of albums can be found within. Mon, 29 May 2023 19:16:11 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management pl-pl Janacek - From the House of the Dead (1964/2008) Janacek - From the House of the Dead (1964/2008)

CD 1
1.	Overture	00:05:49	
2.	Act 1 - Introduction - Today they´ll bring a gentleman!	00:04:54	
3.	Act 1 - What´s your name?	00:03:52	
4.	Act 1 - Wretched creature! It resists!	00:02:23	
5.	Act 1 - Never again will my eyes behold my birthplace	00:01:34	
6.	Act 1 - I, a maiden, went to a fete	00:04:04	
7.	Act 1 - Alieia, get me a thread!	00:07:44	
8.	Act 2 - Introduction	00:02:42	
9.	Act 2 - My dear, dear Alieia!	00:02:45	
10.	Act 2 - Alexander Petrovich, there will be a holiday	00:03:21	
11.	Act 2 - Eh, I, poor and useless man	00:05:34	
12.	Act 2 - A day passes, two, three	00:02:20	
13.	Act 2 - La - la- la....The Play about Kedril and Don Juan ....	00:06:19	
14.	Act 2 - The pantomime about the miller´s beautiful wife	00:05:02	
15.	Act 2 - Nice plays, weren´t they?	00:05:12

CD 2>
1.	Act 3 - Introduction - Jesus, the prophet of God	00:03:49	
2.	Act 3 - O brothers! That pain is nothing	00:05:16	
3.	Act 3 - Ah, my dear children	00:03:16	
4.	Act 3 - You, said Filka	00:04:10	
5.	Act 3 - And Filka shouts	00:02:27	
6.	Act 3 - And I was drunk right up to the wedding day	00:05:21	
7.	Act 3 - The next day, drunk as a sod	00:09:04	
8.	Act 3 - Hou - hou...."Petrovich, I have offended you"	00:07:10

Alexander Petrovich Goryanchicov - Vaclav Bednar (baritone)
Filka Morozov - Beno Blachut (tenor)
Skuratov - Ivo Zídek (tenor)
Shishkov - Premysl Koci (baritone)
Alieia - Helena Tattermuschova (soprano)
The Commandant - Jaroslav Horacek  (bas-baritone)
Orchestra and Chorus of the National Theater in Prague
Bohumil Gregor - conductor


This is the first CD release of the legendary 1964 production of Janáček's last opera by Bohumil Gregor and soloists of the National Theater. The vinyl release was awarded the prestigious Grand Prix du disque lyrique in Paris in 1978. The cast and direction of the recording reflect the National Theater production which premiered in April, 1964, breaking new ground in the interpretation of this work.

Janáček wrote his last opera towards the very end of his life, and it wasn't premiered until 1930, two years after his death. He sketched out the script and wrote the libretto himself, basing it on Dostoevsky's novel The House of the Dead, which takes place in a Siberian prison camp, describing the fates of individual prisoners. The work is full of immense compassion for human suffering in that each of the stories demonstrates that a harsh environment and poverty were the main causes of the prisoner's crimes.

This well-preserved recording not only presents a period interpretation of Janáček's work and the superior quality of the National Theater ensemble, but also an extraordinary musical experience, thanks to the unforgettable vocal performances. ---

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]]> (bluesever) Janacek Leos Tue, 21 Jan 2014 17:06:03 +0000
Janacek - Sarka (2008) Janacek - Sarka (2008)

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1. Act I		27:13
2. Act II		20:44
3. Act III		17:04

Sarka - Olga Romanko (soprano)
Ctitrad - Stuart Skelton (tenor)
Lumir - Peter Wedd (tenor)
Premysl - Ivan Kusjner (baritone)

Groot Omroepkoor & Radio Filharmonisch Orkest

Vredenburg Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht 28.XI.2008
Direct FM-broadcast Radio 4 (NL)


Šárka, Janácek’s first opera, was completed in piano score in 1888 and partially orchestrated before the composer set it aside, unable to obtain permission to use the libretto. In 1918 the now-famous Janácek was finally given the green light, and with his student Osvald Chlubna embarked on a revision and completion of the work, which was premiered in 1925. It would not be until the year 2000 that Janácek’s publisher, Universal Edition, in a joint venture with Editio Moravia, would publish Šárka in conjunction with this recording project. Although the score clearly shows its late-Romantic-period roots (notably recalling the music of Bedrich Smetana), traces of the mature Janácek already can be heard in the music’s nervous energy, asymmetrical phrases, and syncopated rhythms–not to mention the highly individual approach to harmony.

Julius Zeyer’s libretto softens the brutality of the original Czech legend: Ctirad arrives on a white horse to lead Premsyl and his dispirited soldiers in an attack on the rebellious women warriors of Vlasta. Their leader, Šárka, has vowed revenge on all men, and has herself tied to an oak tree as a lure. Upon discovering her, Ctirad falls in love and frees her, and is subsequently killed by Šárka’s warrior maidens. Realizing too late that she did indeed love Ctirad, Šárka returns his body to his men. After expressing great love and remorse, she throws herself upon Ctirad’s funeral pyre. ---Victor Carr jr.,

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]]> (bluesever) Janacek Leos Thu, 26 Sep 2019 15:41:58 +0000
Janacek - The Excursions of Mr. Brouček to the Moon and the 15th Century (2008) Janacek - The Excursions of Mr. Brouček to the Moon and the 15th Century (2008)

Czech:: Výlety pánĕ Broučkovy

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1. Introduction 03:23
2. Pak verit muzum 03:20
3. Hubo nevymahana 04:48
4. Malinko 04:38
5. Racte nas zas brzo navstivit 07:08
6. Etherea Etherea 03:06 play
7. Des vane od tebe jak od Meduzy 05:38
8. Tuto melodii ale do bombardonu 05:23
9. Tanec Tatrmane 05:27
10. Pros veleducha 05:41
11. Pojd sem 07:24
12. Boure silenstvi mnou smyka 02:08
13. Mezihra Cupriny tve stale vence 06:50

1. Introduction 01:54
2. Byly podzemni chodby 05:05
3. O slunce velkeho dne 05:08
4. Jsi-li dobry stuoj 02:33
5. Zacina se den Pane 04:45
6. Kdybych zde nesedel 05:17
7. Vezmi skorne 02:25
8. Aj kazani Rokyacanovo 10:28
9. Vzhuru Vzhuru 05:18
10. Promena Hejsasa Hejsasa 02:05
11. Ditky v hromadu se sendeme 02:33
12. Hle tu skrcen jeden 03:58 play
13. Sel v nasem siku Promena Ach Ach Ach 06:24
Jan Vacík Matěj Brouček Peter Straka - Mazal/Blankytný/Petřík Maria Haan - Málinka/Etherea/Kunka Roman Janál - Svatopluk Čech/Sakristán/Lunobar/Domšík od Zvonu Zdenĕk Plech - Würfl/Čaroskvoucí/Konšel Lenka Šmídová - Hospodynĕ/Kedruta Martina Bauerová - Číšníček/Zázračné/Žák Aleš Briscein - Malíř/Duhoslav/Vojta od Pávů Václav Sibera - Básník/Oblačný/Vacek Bradatý BBC Singers
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Jiří Bělohlávek - conductor


When it comes to recordings, this is the least-favoured of Leos Janacek's operas: The Excursions Of Mr Broucek. It's effectively two dramas, and two Excursions: one to the moon, one to 15th century Prague…Janacek's operatic reactions to the satirical stories of Svatopluk Cech, which due to various disagreements with librettists, took the composer nine years to complete. So where does it fit? Between Jenufa, and the finale great operatic flowering that began with Katya Kabanova - but Broucek's Excursions are unlike anything that came before or since; comic, yes, but also serious, patriotic, and often wonderfully scored.

Broucek doesn't seem to get out much, either onstage or on disc. It's missing from the Decca cycle of Janacek operas conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras, and this new one is a first for two reasons: it's the first digital recording, and also the first account on disc of a new edition of the opera made by Janacek authority Jiri Zahradka…both of which probably make this a compulsory purchase for committed Janacek-ians. But there's another reason to take it seriously; the recording was made live at the Barbican in February 2007, and if you read the reviews at the time, or heard the broadcast on BBC Radio 3, you'll have gathered that something special happened. It comes across on the CDs as well: Jiri Belohlavek conducting the BBC Singers and BBC Symphony Orchestra, and an almost entirely Czech cast who throw themselves into their roles with vitality, and understanding. Broucek is sung by Jan Vacik, and after his drunken proposal to his tenant's girlfriend, and beer-fuelled flight of fantasy, Vacik is a delicious foil to the lunar luvvies, horrifying them with his enthusiasm for sausage, beer and dumplings rather than high art and flower-sniffing. Belohlavek's handling of Janacek’s gorgeous Interlude as Broucek returns to earth is as magical as it ought to be.

In the second part, to his horror, an earthbound Broucek is transported to the past, caught up in the battle for 15th century Prague: Hussite hymns and heroism, plus bagpipes and an organ adding an edge to the orchestration. Here's heartfelt patriotism, and a celebratory setting of real grandeur from Janacek, and it's greatly to everyone's credit that it doesn’t feel like a concert performance.

This may not be the last recorded word on Broucek, but right now it sounds like a major improvement on what we've had before: the strength and depth of the cast, and most of all the sound quality, and Belohlavek's feel for the tenderness, humour and romance of one of Janacek's least appreciated, yet most original dramas.

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]]> (bluesever) Janacek Leos Tue, 11 Jan 2011 10:34:39 +0000
Janacek – Piano Works (1997) Janacek – Piano Works (1997)

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Disc 1:
01. Tema con variazioni (Zdenka-Variations) – Tema. Andante – Variazioni I – VII
02. On an overgrown path (Po zarostlém chodnicku) – 1. Nase vecery (Our evenings)
03. On an overgrown path (Po zarostlém chodnicku) – 2. Listek odvanuty (A leaf blown away)
04. On an overgrown path (Po zarostlém chodnicku) – 3. Pojdte s nami! (Come with us!)
05. On an overgrown path (Po zarostlém chodnicku) – 4. Frydecká Panna Maria (The Madonna of Frydek)
06. On an overgrown path (Po zarostlém chodnicku) – 5. Stebetaly jak lastovicky (They chattered like swallows)
07. On an overgrown path (Po zarostlém chodnicku) – 6. Nelze domluvit! (Words fail!)
08. On an overgrown path (Po zarostlém chodnicku) – 7. Dobrou noc! (Good night!)
09. On an overgrown path (Po zarostlém chodnicku) – 8. Tak neskonale uzko (Unutterable anguish)
10. On an overgrown path (Po zarostlém chodnicku) – 9. V placi (In tears)
11. On an overgrown path (Po zarostlém chodnicku) – 10. Sycek neodletel! 
12. On an overgrown path (Po zarostlém chodnicku) – 11. Andante
13. On an overgrown path (Po zarostlém chodnicku) – 12. Allegretto
14. On an overgrown path (Po zarostlém chodnicku) – 13. Più mosso
15. On an overgrown path (Po zarostlém chodnicku) – 14. Vivo
16. On an overgrown path (Po zarostlém chodnicku) – 15. Allegro – Adagio
17. Reminiscence (Vzpominka) for piano solo

Disc 2:
01. Piano – 1. Predtucha [Sonata 1.X.1905 (From the street)
02. Piano – 2. Smrt [Sonata 1.X.1905 (From the street)
03. In the Mists (V mlhách) – 1. Andante
04. In the Mists (V mlhách) – 2. Molto adagio
05. In the Mists (V mlhách) – 3. Andantino
06. In the Mists (V mlhách) – 4. Presto
07. Concertino for piano and chamber orchestra – 1. Moderato
08. Concertino for piano and chamber orchestra – 2. Più mosso
09. Concertino for piano and chamber orchestra – 3. Con moto
10. Concertino for piano and chamber orchestra – 4. Allegro
11. Capriccio – 1. Allegro
12. Capriccio – 2. Adagio
13. Capriccio – 3. Allegretto
14. Capriccio – 4. Andante

Rudolf Firkusny – piano
Members of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Rafael Kubelik – conductor


These works, which on closer acquaintance prove to contain almost overwhelming warmth of heart, are in the hands of a pianist who first met Janácek when taken to play to the old master at the age of five, and later studied composition with him.

On these two records are contained Janácek's complete works for piano; and though it would be misleading to suggest that they give anything like a complete portrait of this many-sided composer, they reflect something of his development from the early, almost Dvorákian lyricism to the terse, explosive passion of his last phase. They are in the hands of a pianist who first met Janácek when taken to play to the old master at the age of five, and later studied composition with him: there is an agreeable reminiscence of their meetings on the sleeve, confirming the generosity and the empirical nature of Janácek's teaching which I have heard described by other of his pupils.

The earliest work here is the set of Variations which Janácek wrote for his future wife Zdenka while still studying at Leipzig. Like other early pieces, they reflect a number of influences which have been absorbed remarkably well into a warm and distinctly personal style. Janácek himself called the work "my first completely correct work, my Opus 1", and it is pleasant to have it recorded. But not until the sonata and the two piano suites do we really encounter the full force of Janácek's personality. Firkusny gives a powerful account of the sonata. It was written in memory of a worker killed when German troops put down a demonstration on behalf of a Czech university at Brno, Janácek's home capital; he was doubtful of its worth, for with typical impulsiveness he seized the music of the third movement from the alarmed performer at the final rehearsal, tore it up and burned the pieces. Later he threw the remaining movements into the Vltava; but the pianist, Ludmila Tuelova, had prudently made a secret copy, and later Janácek went so far back on his impulse as to allow publication. Even in its twomovement form, it is a noble work. Firkusny has a strong feeling for the atmosphere of the first movement, "Presentiments", and his very acute understanding of Janácek's tempos and their complex relationships can allow him an expansiveness that again recalls Dvorák without the music ever losing the highly charged, compressed nature of its lyricism.

The demands are in some ways more severe with the two piano suites. The twopart set of pieces Along an overgrown path was begun at the time of Jenufa; some of the numbers date from 1902, others from as late as 1911, and with them a new terseness is shown entering the style of a composer whose tendency was increasingly to the laconic. The title, which a somewhat loosely-written trilingual sleeve-note does not discuss, does not refer to the experiences of nature except in so far as they can stand as metaphor or comment on the real subject of the suite—the re-exploration of the unhappiness caused by the tragic death of Janácek's young daughter Olga. This is the 'overgrown path' ; and with it go reminiscences of his birth-place, Hukvaldy, with sketches of a blown-away leaf, a beautiful little musical ikon of the Virgin of Frjrdek (grave chords contrasted with a flowing, graceful theme), a movement of weeping, finally a grim sketch of steady, calm chords which are continually interrupted by the din of the screech-owl, harbinger of death. The second suite of the set is less specific, though the mood is maintained (it also is without titles: those of the first are given on the record in the clumsy translation of the Hudebni Matice edition).

Here, as in the short suite In the Mist of similar date (1912) which confirms the melancholy mood, the piano writing has become extremely difficult. Technically it makes severe demands upon the performer, which Firkusny meets without trouble; but the real problem is caused by the extreme unpredictability of the music, but its sudden alternations of violent, jagged themes and the heart-easing lyricism of the passages into which they are flung, by the contrast of terse little nuggets of music and very free rhapsodic passages, so free that there is often a problem of notation. Firkusny records that Janácek often changed his mind about his music, and would impulsively alter passages that had long reached print; as he says, candidly, this leaves many questions of interpretation open to discussion. But his own understanding of the way in which the notes must be treated freely yet within a very controlled idiom seems to me wholly admirable; and he has of course the composer's authority for various changes (most strikingly in the fourth piece of the second Overgrown Path set). In the 1920s came the two piano concertos, or the nearest Janácek ever came to piano concertos. The Concertino is weirdly scored for two violins, viola, clarinet, horn and bassoon, and I have nothing but admiration for the way in which DGG have dealt with such oddities. In the first movement, it is the horn alone which appears with the piano, in the second only the E flat clarinet, squealing desperately, until the arrival of the strings near the end. Janácek was, it seems, describing nature scenes: the reiterated horn figure of three notes represents a cross hedgehog trying to get back to its lair, the clarinet a squirrel caught in a cage, and so on, with the whole suite probably originally intended to be entitled Spring. We are back in the world of The Cunning Little Vixen, though it has become more abstract and still more concentrated. With the Capriccio, written for the pianist Otakar Hollmann who had lost the use of his right arm in the war, the scoring is still more eccentric (flute, though not till the end of the second movement, two trumpets, tenor tuba and three trombones). The style is, if anything, still more laconic, with sudden jets of melody from the piano and textures that are as tough as anything in the whole of Janácek's music. Not until the last movement is some kind of reconciliation reached, with the flute sailing over dense, packed brass chords against piano flourishes. It is a fierce little work.

Firkusny is apparently as much at home with the stark manner of these late works as in the earlier solo piano music. Apart from the lack of information in the sleeve-note, the presentation of the record is up to DGG's best standards, and the playing of the Bavarian Radio musicians has clearly gained from the coaching of Rafael Kubelik. His approach to Janácek has often been almost too lyrical; here he has all the sharpness and oddity of the late pieces. I strongly recommend this pair of records of music which is still not well enough known, which sometimes presents a gruff face but which on closer acquaintance proves to contain almost overwhelming warmth of heart. --- Gramophone [6/1972], reviewing the original LP release

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]]> (bluesever) Janacek Leos Wed, 08 Feb 2012 10:20:17 +0000
Janacek – Taras Bulba • Lachian Dances • Moravian Dances (2012) Janacek – Taras Bulba • Lachian Dances • Moravian Dances (2012)

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Taras Bulba, JW VI/15
1 I. Smrt Andrijova (Death of Andrij)	9:17
2 II. Smrt Ostapova (The Death of Ostap)	5:22
3 III. Proroctvi a smrt Tarase Bulby (The Prophecy and Death of Taras Bulba) 10:15

Lasske tance (Lachian Dances), JW VI/17
4 No. 1. Starodavny (Old-Time Dance)	6:02
5 No. 2. Pozehnany (Blessed)	2:16
6 No. 3. Dymak (A Blacksmith's Dance)	2:19
7 No. 4. Starodavny (Old-Time Dance)	4:37
8 No. 5. Celadensky (From Celadra)	1:50
9 No. 6. Pilky (Saw Dance)	3:13

Moravian dances, JW VI/7
10 No. 1. Kozich (Fur Coat)	3:04
11 No. 2. Kalamajka	0:52
12 No. 3. Trojky (Threes) 1:22
13 No. 4. Silnice (Road)	2:07
14 No. 5. Rozek (Little Corner)	1:33

Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Antoni Wit – conductor


The coupling of Janáček’s two late orchestral masterpieces Taras Bulba and the Sinfonietta has long been a favourite programme on disc; Naxos themselves issued a CD of this pairing conducted by old Naxos stalwart Ondrej Lenard with the Slovak Philharmonic (which also included the Lachian Dances). Here Antoni Wit discards the Sinfonietta and instead gives us two much earlier Janáček scores in the shape of the Lachian Dances (again) and the Moravian Dances, of which the latter is a real rarity.

The performance here of Taras Bulba comes into competition not only with Naxos’s old Lenard performance but many others, some of which are among the jewels of the CD catalogue. Among those are an early recording by Simon Rattle with the Philharmonia Orchestra. Currently and disgracefully this is only available as a fill-up for his Covent Garden recording in English of The cunning little vixen; surely a prime candidate for re-release. A comparison with that reading makes it all too apparent what is missing here. The story behind Taras Bulba is a thoroughly unpleasant one of heroic resistance by the Cossacks to the Poles. It centres around three scenes of unnatural death – one in battle, one by torture and one by immolation. Wit and his Polish orchestra sound positively apologetic about this, choosing instead to emphasise the lyric and contemplative episodes in the score. Without the violence being graphically portrayed a whole dimension is missing, and the organ in the last movement sounds positively churchy. The string playing sounds somewhat recessed and lacking in definition in the admittedly fiendishly difficult virtuoso writing. This imbalance is a serious defect in the recording. Although the violins are precise, they do not dominate as they should in the final pages and their trills - which depict the fire in which the hero is burning - sound rather anaemic.

Even better than the Rattle performance is that by Mackerras with the Vienna Philharmonic. This is something else again. Not only do you hear the full viciousness of the orchestral writing given its due by a world-class orchestra but also there’s superlatively great recording quality which comprehensively outclasses Rattle. This recording is variously available at mid-price either coupled with a white-hot reading of the Sinfonietta or as part of a Double Decca release which also includes not only the Sinfonietta but also Huybrecht’s reading of the Lachian Dances and a number of other smaller works. Listen to the stinging violin tone which Mackerras obtains in the opening of The death of Ostap, and the overly precise tone of the Warsaw strings becomes only too apparent; there is no sense of violence here.

Wit’s couplings of the Lachian and Moravian Dances are likewise somewhat polite. The very opening of the Lachian Dances lacks the spring that Huybrechts brings to the score. The rhythmic elements – although crisply delivered – lack the ideal element of bite that the scoring invites.

The Moravian Dances, on the other hand, come up against much less demanding competition. The only other recording in the current catalogue is again from Naxos in a performance by Libor Pešek coupled with the reconstructed Danube Symphony or as part of a general collection of Slavonic music. That recording dates from 1986 - originally issued on Marco Polo. Here comparisons are much more favourable to Wit on this issue. The orchestral playing by the Warsaw Philharmonic is much better than with the Slovak Philharmonic for Pešek. The recording is much rounder and more atmospheric; the 1986 sound is rather astringent. It is surprising that this work is so neglected, for it is far from negligible even if not representative of Janáček at his greatest. It is extremely pleasing to make its acquaintance again. It is emphatically not noticeably inferior to the Lachian Dances from a year or so earlier, and that work has never lacked for performances or recordings.

Those who love the music of Janáček will therefore definitely want this recording for the sake of the best performance currently available of the Moravian Dances, although this only constitutes nine minutes’ worth of music. ---Paul Corfield Godfrey,

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]]> (bluesever) Janacek Leos Tue, 19 Jan 2010 18:06:00 +0000
Leos Janacek - Choral Music (1997) Leos Janacek - Choral Music (1997)

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Ríkadla (Nursery Rhymes) (18) for 9 voices & 10 instruments, JW 5/17
1 Introduction [0'30]
2 The beetroot got married [1'19]
3 There’s nothing better than Springtime [1'04]
4 The mole creeps [0'59]
5 Karel rode off to hell [0'31]
6 Ripped trousers [0'29]
7 Franta the knacker’s son played the bass-fiddle [0'59]
8 Our dog, our dog … [0'34]
9 I’m giving a little talk … [0'54]
10 The old woman was making magic [0'34]
11 Ho, ho, off go the cows … [1'08]
12 My tiny little wife… [0'37]
13 Granny’s crawling into the elder bush … [0'21]
14 A white goat’s picking pears [0'37]
15 German-beetle broke some pans [0'35]
16 A goat is lying in the hay [0'36]
17 Vašek, pašek, the drummer [0'38]
18 Frantík, Frantík [0'22]
19 The bear sat on a tree trunk [1'33]20 Kaspar Rucky [5'51]

21 The 70,000 [5'18]
22 The wolf’s trail [6'31] 
23 Elegy on the death of my daughter Olga [6'42] 

Songs (3) of Hradcany (Hradcanské písnicky), for female voices & instruments, JW 4/40
24 Golden Street [3'28]
25 The weeping fountain [4'07]
26 Belveder [7'42]

27 Ave Maria [4'48] 
28 Our Father [14'33]

New London Chamber Choir, 
Critical Band, 
James Wood (conductor)


Janácek's Nursery Rhymes (Rikadla) sound particularly youthful, but they were written in the composer's final years of glory. The eighteen songs are accompanied by a tiny wind band, including an ocarina, with occasional contributions from double bass, piano, harp, organ, and some delicate percussion. The music is close in spirit to that of The Cunning Little Vixen, and has, if anything, even more charm than that miraculous opera. This presentation is captivating—even more so than that on a Chandos disc reviewed in Fanfare 19:4. There the playing is more virtuosic and the recorded sound fuller, but the net effect is less intimate.

The remaining pieces are more serious, ranging from a humorous tracing of the life and death of the philandering rogue Kašpar Rucký to the patriotic tragedy of The 70,000 and the personal one of Elegy. Clive Williamson is the sensitive pianist in the latter. This is all gorgeous music, none more so than the haunting Hradcany Songs for female voices with minimal accompaniments.

These performances strike me as nearly ideal, although a solo soprano and tenor strain a bit in one number each. Production values are equally high, from recorded sound to the inclusion of complete texts in Czech and English. Although the booklet lists more than forty members of the New London Chamber Choir, most songs are sung by smaller groups; besides the listed soloists, choir members are also given small solo parts. Although I find the singing graceful and convincingly idiomatic, it does not sound especially Czech; I suspect that native speakers will hear a foreign accent, so they might prefer the Chandos disc, on which Rikadla is sung by nine students from a Prague music academy. That is the only possible quibble I can imagine about this enchanting Hyperion disc. ---Fanfare: James H. North,

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]]> (bluesever) Janacek Leos Tue, 29 Mar 2011 08:42:24 +0000
Leos Janacek - From the House of the Dead (Mackerras) [1991] Leos Janacek - From the House of the Dead (Mackerras) [1991]

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1. Prelude - Prelude	Wiener Philharmoniker		5:31	
2. Privedou dnes pána! - Privedou dnes pána!	Jiri Zahradnicek		4:15	
3. Jak te nazy vaji? - Jak te nazy vaji?	Antonin Svorc		5:22	
4. Neuvidi oko jiz kraju - Neuvidi oko jiz kraju	Ivo Zidek	4:56	
5. Aljejo, podavej nitku! - Aljejo, podavej nitku!	Jiri Zahradnicek		7:05	
6. A... A... Mily, mily Aljejo! - A... A... Mily, mily Aljejo!	Zdenek Svehla	4:16
7. Alexandr Petrovic, bude praznik - Alexandr Petrovic, bude praznik	Richard Novak	7:51
8. Presel den, druhy, treti - Presel den, druhy, treti	Ivo Zidek	2:52	
9. Dnes bude muj posledni den! - Dnes bude muj posledni den!	Jaroslav Soucek		5:18	
10. Pantomima o Pekne mlyánrce - Pantomima o Pekne mlyánrce	Jaroslav Soucek	 4:51
11. Pekne hrali, co? - Pekne hrali, co?	Jaroslava Janska	4:30

1. Isaj, prorok bozi! - Isaj, prorok bozi!	Jaroslava Janska	7:12	
2. Má detátka milá - Má detátka milá	Beno Blachut	8:33
3. A já byl, bratricku, az do svatby zpit! - A já byl, bratricku, az do svatby zpit!	Vaclav Zitek	5:40
4. S Filkou jste se opet sprátelili? - S Filkou jste se opet sprátelili?	Zdenek Svehla	6:58	
5. Petrovici! Já isem te urazil - Petrovici! Já isem te urazil	Antonin Svorc

Goryantchikov - Dalibor Jedlicka
Alyeya - Jaroslava Janská
Luka Morosoff - Jiri Zahradnicek
Tall Prisoner - Vladimir Krejcik
Short Prisoner - Richard Novák
Camp Commandant - Antonin Svorc
Old Prisoner - Beno Blachut
Skuratov - Ivo Zidek
Chekunov - Jaroslav Soucek
Prostitute - Eva Zigmundova
Schapkin - Zdenek Sousek
Shishkov - Václav Zitek
Cherevin - Zdenek Svehla
Don Juan - Jaroslav Soucek
Kedril - Zdenek Sousek

Wiener Staatsoper Chorus
Wiener Philharmoniker
Charles Mackerras – conductor


The series of Janacek's operas conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras for Decca has become one of the most exciting gramophone projects of the day, with each issue a major event. The new digital recording of the last opera he composed, From the House of the Dead, is no exception: indeed, for reasons that lie beyond the excellence of performance and recording, and also lie apart from the fact that here is the first version to appear for nearly eight years, this is an historic occasion, a significant contribution to musical knowledge.

Of the excellence of the performance itself, there can be little argument. Sir Charles has long known and understood this music, since his student days in Prague, and his feeling for its style and idiom has deepened with the years. Together with Kubelik, no conductor has done more to establish Janacek in this country as a great composer – which no one experiencing From the House of the Dead in the theatre could doubt that he is. Mackerras conducts the work with a contained passion that totally avoids the sentimental, a quality almost never present in Janâeek, and certainly absent from this astonishing score as here recorded. John Tyrrell, in his long and eloquent essay in the album, points out the influence of Wozzeck on certain features of the score – the night-time sighing chorus of the prisoners, the abrupt, cut-off ending – and Janacek's admiration for Berg does indeed show in these moments, stimulating as they do his own liking for the laconic gesture that can contain so much. His style, always tending to the brief, pregnant idea, was never more succinct than here; and Sir Charles is complete master of it.

Never one to compromise, Janacek set himself in this opera some well-nigh insuperable tasks. Yet the triumphant overcoming of them is part of the work's creative character. An 'easier', more conventionally operatic approach to the subject would have weakened this; it would have diminished the sense of difficulties overcome, of the material forced into expression, of the impossible proved possible. This is essential to the spirit of the opera. Its epigraph is famous: "in every human being there is a divine spark". Out of the ramshackle, desperate life of Dostoyevsky's convicts, Janâcek proposes order. It is man's instinct to shape, his necessity to hope. There are no patterned arias here; the set pieces are surprising to the point of being awkward (the little playlets, the narrations); the plot barely exists. A prisoner (in the original, Dostoyevsky himself) arrives at the camp; finally he is pardoned. Between are set a number of scenes, hardly related, their disparate nature indicating the grim chaos of camp life yet the strength of emotion in each of them justifying the opera's epigraph. Even the Old Prisoner, a gentle, fond old man, has retained independence and character: there is here a touching little performance by Beno Blachut.

Janacek further increased his own problems by the casting. There are only two female roles, the Harlot (who is insignificant) and Aljeja, the touching young man with whom the Dostoyevsky figure, Alexandr Petrovie Gorjancikov, forms a paternal relationship: Aljeja is sung with agreeable simplicity and tenderness by Jaroslava Janska. The rest are men; but almost all of them are cast as high voices. To give them separate character is vital to the structure. As Dr Tyrrell writes, "Janacek has plotted an almost abstract design in which the separate worlds of the prisoners intersect almost at random, and which is dominated by the set-piece plays of Act 2, and the longer narratives of the prisoners, in particular those of Luka in Act 1, Skuratov in Act 2, and Shshkov in Act 3"; and he goes on to point out that the connections between the prisoners lie deeper than superficial contrast of manner, hence demanding much of the singers concerned. Only Sigkov, of those named, is a baritone; and Vaclav Zitek gives him a strong, potent personality expressed in firm, almost rigid tone and phrasing. Luka Kuzmie, who turns out to be the mysterious Filka Morozov of Sigkov's narration, is brilliantly sung by Jiri Zahradnicek, fervent and even strained in his tense phrasing, yet with a strong underlying lyricism that gives sharpness to the sudden bursts of notes that mark his melodic line. Skuratov, also a tense character, is subtly different in Ivo Zidek's performance, for though he too is tense, with a hectic, almost maudlin quality in his singing, the underlying emotion here seems to be a deeper sadness. Sapkin, a firmer character, is sung with more restraint by Zdenek Soucek. Alexandr Petrovie himself is sung with warmth and dignity by Dalibor Jedlicka, and with a suitable note of reserve: we do not learn much about him during the course of the opera, and he is not its hero.

What gives the set its documentary importance is that this is the first time we have heard what Janacek wrote. This is no exaggeration. One of the most valuable contributions to the Nineteenth-Century Musicological Conference in Cambridge last July was a fascinating paper in which Dr Tyrrell showed the stages through which Janacek worked on one selected scene in the composition of the opera, and how his idea gradually took shape (only to be later clouded again by editorial misunderstandings). Dr Tyrrell now tells the full story in his notes, and he it is who has established the authentic version and provided a completely revised score for this recording. The sound is sharper, more spare and more like chamber-music than the version we normally hear, even setting to one side the sentimental additions such as the final hymn to freedom (which are in the Universal Edition vocal score). In this digital recording, the percussion emerges more prominently, rather too much so for my taste in places, though the slow dying away of the side drum at the end of Act 2 is beautifully managed. The solo violin is also forward, but not obtrusively so: the prelude was originally meant for a violin concerto, and the instrument remains important throughout (it is also very well played by the unnamed leader of the Vienna Philharmonic). But this keen differentiation between instruments is certainly true to Janacek's idea, surely more so than the rather more conventional richness of older versions (and the Gregor/Supraphon recording). Scholarship and creative understanding go hand in hand in this whole enterprise, and Decca are to be most warmly congratulated on what is not only a superb performance of a masterpiece but a real contribution to knowledge.-- John Warrack, Gramophone [11/1980]

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]]> (bluesever) Janacek Leos Wed, 30 Dec 2009 00:17:20 +0000
Leos Janacek - Glagolitic Mass – Sinfonietta (1992) Leos Janacek - Glagolitic Mass – Sinfonietta (1992)

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Glagolitic Mass:
1. I. Uvod (Introduction)
2. II. Gospodi pomiluj (Kyrie)
3. III. Slava (Gloria)
4. IV. Veruju (Credo)
5. V. Svet (Sanctus)
6. VI. Agnece Bozij (Agnus Dei)
7. VII. Varhany solo (Organ)
8. VIII. Intrada

9. I. Allegretto
10. II. Andante - Allegretto
11. III. Moderato
12. IV. Allegretto
13. V. Andante con moto

Gabriela Benackova  (soprano)
Felicity Palmer (mezzo soprano)
Gary Lakes (tenor)
Anatoly Kotcherga (bass)
John Scott (organ)
London Symphony Chorus & Orchestra
Tilson Thomas – conductor


It is a tribute to Janácek's genius that we always think of him as a 20th century composer. In fact he was aged 46 when the new century began, but of course he continued to develop and the majority of his compositions of lasting value were written in the final phase of his life.

The Indian Summer that is Janácek's final decade contains his greatest music, indeed some of the finest operas and instrumental works ever written, This is not to deny, however, that prior to that period a few of his compositions, including the orchestral rhapsody Taras Bulba and the opera Jenufa, attain the same high standards.

Composed in 1926, the Sinfonietta uses a large orchestra, the outer movements requiring a complement of extra brass, including fourteen trumpets. Tilson Thomas conducts a performance which enjoys very high standards of playing, as well as a clear and well focused recording. If the results are not quite in the front rank of recorded performances, that is because the rhythmic attack lacks the cutting edge which this music seems to gain in the hands of native Czech performers. (Rafael Kubelik (Deutsche Grammophon) is particularly effective.) But Tilson Thomas does offer compensations, since the more lyrical moments of the work have a poetic beauty which seems hard to match. Any doubts about the more dramatic agenda do not present major problems, though for sheer drama other performances can add an extra dimension.

Performance standards are high also in the Glagolitic Mass, with marvellous playing from the LSO, while the LSO Chorus matches their standard. Make no mistake, this music is fearsome in its technical demands and these things should not be taken for granted, even if the fact of recorded performances can encourage us to expect excellence at the push of a button.

As in the Sinfonietta, the quieter, more reflective aspects of the Mass are beautifully done, and beautifully captured by the recording, too. There is careful attention to dynamic shadings and characterful phrasing.

In this remastered issue the sound is probably better than ever, and there is no lack of impact in the more powerful sections of the score, of which there are many. For example, John Scott's big organ solo expands magnificently, and will be heard to best advantage by those who dwell in detached properties.

The soloists make an effective team, and it is interesting to hear Felicity Palmer take the mezzo soprano part, where previously she was the soprano soloist on Sir Simon Rattle's performance on EMI. Gary Lakes, that fine Wagnerian tenor, is caught in good voice, though he does struggle occasionally with his Czech diction.

Tilson Thomas conducts with a sense of real dedication and commitment, and the dramatic aspects of the work come across with biting clarity and directness. For this is a splendid performance of a choral work which gets becomes more powerful and compelling with each performance one hears. ---Terry Barfoot ,

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]]> (bluesever) Janacek Leos Tue, 07 Sep 2010 22:11:26 +0000
Leos Janacek - String Quartets (2008) Leos Janacek - String Quartets (2008)

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1. String Quartet No. 2 "Intimate Letters"
2. 1 I. Andante Quatuor Diotima
3. 2 II. Adagio Quatuor Diotima
4. 3 III. Moderato Quatuor Diotima
5. 4 IV. Con moto Quatuor Diotima

1. String Quartet No. 1 "Kreutzer Sonata"
2. 5 I. Con moto Quatuor Diotima
3. 6 II. Con moto Quatuor Diotima
4. 7 III. Con moto Quatuor Diotima
5. 8 IV. Con moto Quatuor Diotima

1. String Quartet No. 2 "Intimate Letters"
2. 9 I. Andante Naaman Sluchin & Yun-Peng Zhao, Violins - Garth Knox, Viola d'Amore - Pierre Morlet, Cello
3. 10 II. Adagio Naaman Sluchin & Yun-Peng Zhao, Violins - Garth Knox, Viola d'Amore - Pierre Morlet, Cello
4. 11 III. Moderato Naaman Sluchin & Yun-Peng Zhao, Violins - Garth Knox, Viola d'Amore - Pierre Morlet, Cello
5. 12 IV. Con moto

Quatuor Diotima:
Naaman Sluchin & Yun-Peng Zhao, Violins 
Frank Chevalier , Viola
Pierre Morlet, Cello
Garth Knox, Viola d'Amore 


The versions of Leos Janácek's String Quartet No. 2, "Intimate Letters," heard here are both new. Neither quite delivers the "radical evolution in the character of the work" promised in the booklet (in French and English, with the Alpha label's usual wonderful art-historical essay by Denis Grenier), but both are intriguing. The version concluding the disc uses a viola d'amore, a middle-sized Baroque viol with sympathetic strings that create a sweet, caressing sound entirely appropriate for a work dedicated to the composer's much younger (38 years) mistress. This instrumentation was apparently Janácek's intention, but he gave up on it after rehearsals ran into unspecified problems. Probably players of the rather difficult instrument were scarce indeed in Prague in 1928. Its restoration does draw attention to the active role of the viola part in this constantly expressive quartet, but so does the version played on the first four tracks. This is made from a new edition of the work, drawn from copies of the work used in rehearsals made before Janácek's death. (He never heard it played in public performance.) It differs from the one usually heard in various details, many of them having to do with tempo and tending to emphasize the shifting moods and episodic quality of the work. The String Quartet No. 1, also a product of the composer's old age, is also programmatic; it is based on an episode in a Tolstoy short story. The Quatuor Diotima offers a passionate performance of both quartets that would merit consideration in any case, but sample the viola d'amore's opening utterance at the beginning of track 9, and you may decide, even if you are already a confirmed admirer of Janácek's tense but richly romantic music, that a rehearing of these works is in order. ---James Manheim, Rovi

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]]> (bluesever) Janacek Leos Sun, 02 Jan 2011 10:58:06 +0000
Leos Janacek - The Eternal Gospel (Vecné Evangelium) [1997] Leos Janacek - The Eternal Gospel (Vecné Evangelium) [1997]

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1. The Eternal Gospel. Legend dor Soloists, Mixed Choir and Orchestra 00:21:21
1. Con moto 00:04:03
2. Adagio 00:06:07
3. Con moto 00:07:57
4. Andante 00:03:13
2. Our Father. Chamber Cantata for Tenor Solo, Mixed Choir, Harp and Organ 00:15:35
3. Lord Have Mercy for Soloists, Mixed Choir, Organ, Harp and Brass Instruments 00:03:59
4. Elegy on the Death of my Daughter Olga. Cantata for Tenor Solo,
Mixed Choir and piano
5. Cartak on the Solan. Cantata for Male Choir and Orchestra

Jadwiga Wysoczanska - soprano Beno Błachut - tenor Miroslav Svejda - tenor Ludmila Solarowa - organ Marie Mrazova - contralto Ivo Zidek - tenor Jan Panenka - piano

Prague Symphony Orchestra
Prague Philharmonic Choir
Jiri Pinkas - conductor


By the time Janácek sat down to compose the Eternal Gospel in 1914, the composer had completed several very significant works, but had not quite achieved the notoriety he was just about to recieve. The Brno premiere of Janácek's Jenufa produced few tangible results. But a May 1916 National Theatre production put new life into the opera and gave the composer international recognition. Works composed before the composer's first major success were taken out of obscurity and given multiple performances. The Eternal Gospel was one such work allowed to see the light of day, partly due to the Jenufa success.

Janácek's Eternal Gospel comes close to an oratorio, though the composer never referred to it as such. Based on a poem by one of Janácek's favorite poets, Jaroslav Vrchlicky, the text's theme is universal love. Some of Janácek's closest associates believed that the war in the Balkans may have given impetus to the idealistic work, because of the pacifist attitude of the composer.

The central character in Janácek's miniture drama is the prophet Joachim da Fiore, sung by a tenor. Fiore the prophet appears before the people (represented by a mixed chorus) to proclaim the dawning of a Golden Age told to him by an angel.

The work is in four movements, and depict stages in human understanding. In the first movement, (con moto) the prophet simply intones the brightest day for all mankind is dawning, a phrase taking up only four bars. The orchestral part here introduces a few key motifs and establishes a basic mood. In the second movement, (adagio), the prophet Fiore continues the revelation after a brief orchestral introduction. Who can see the Angel flying through the clouds? Spirit from above, he's hidden by stars. The chorus enters forcefully in response singing, the Angel flies over the bottomless depths, holding the Eternal Gospel in his hand. He will proclaim it over seas and mountains, in every language known to mankind. The prophet reenters to speak of the revelation in terms of a book. At midnight, my gaze rises to Heaven. I see the Book's clasp, flashing in the clouds. With the arrival of expanding consciousness comes a familiar restoration theme. Leaves that had withered are revived with new sap--a line that is repeated several times by the tenor and chorus.

In the third movement, the prophet chronicles three Empires, each describing a stage in humanity. One Empire was the fear of the law, a reference to the Old Testament and Mosaic law. The second Empire is the Christian Empire, characterized as an epoch of faith, virtue and grace. The text says that, at this point, both Empires have passed, and now the third comes. It's glory in the East is already shining. This is the Empire of the Spirit, and is led by Francis, the rock of the Third Empire, who, according to the text was dedicated to the birds and to the beasts. The prophet exchanges lines such as these with the chorus. With each successive reference to the Empire of the Spirit, a series of alleluias bring the movement to a triumphant close, wherein the man with nothing will be rich in spirit.

The fourth movement of Janácek's Eternal Gospel has the prophet Joachim Fiore officially announcing the inauguration of Love's Empire, the eternal or final empire of the human spirit. The work ends impressively after a series of shimmery chords, harking back to the first movement. The Eternal Gospel ranks as one of Janácek's finest accomplishments. In it can be seen traces of his Glagolithic Mass, which occupied a social place in Janácek's world view. ---Franklin Stover, Rovi

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]]> (bluesever) Janacek Leos Fri, 19 Feb 2010 21:43:01 +0000