Janá ek

BBC Music Magazine - - Choral & Song Reviews -

Glagolitic Mass; Sin­foni­etta, Taras Bulba; The Fid­dler’s Child

Hi­bla Gerz­mava (so­prano), Veronika Ha­jnová (alto), Stu­art Neill (tenor), Jan Mart­iník (bass), Ale Bárta (or­gan); Prague Phil­har­monic

Choir; Czech Phil­har­monic Or­ches­tra/ji í B lohlávek

Decca 483 4080 100:18 mins (2 discs) This col­lec­tion of Janá ek’s most pop­u­lar or­ches­tral mu­sic along with the Glagolitic Mass dates from be­tween 2013 and 2017, the last be­ing the Sin­foni­etta which is also one of the last record­ings B lohlávek made. The per­for­mance

of the Mass is based on the 1927 pre­miere and has a rather more an­gu­lar char­ac­ter than the ver­sion usu­ally recorded. Along­side the strength of B lohlávek’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion is su­perb singing from the Prague Phil­har­monic Choir and the so­prano Hi­bla Gerz­mava who com­bines an un­forced ra­di­ance at the start of the Glo­ria with grip­ping drama later in the move­ment. With an ab­so­lutely in­tox­i­cat­ing ac­count of the fi­nal In­trada, over­all this ren­di­tion must count as one of the most ap­peal­ing per­for­mances of the Mass avail­able.

The open­ing of the Sin­foni­etta shows an earthy, no-non­sense ap­proach. B lohlávek’s read­ing blends an in­fec­tious at­ten­tion to or­ches­tral de­tail with mo­ments of pen­e­trat­ing vi­sion that com­ple­ment Janá ek’s volatile por­trait of the Mo­ra­vian cap­i­tal, Brno, su­perbly. The or­ches­tral play­ing, while vivid through­out, is not al­ways per­fect, but the pun­gency of his in­ter­pre­ta­tion has an au­then­tic­ity that is com­pelling at ev­ery stage.

The sense of sto­ries be­ing told in Taras Bulba and The Fid­dler’s Child is al­most un­ri­valled in my ex­pe­ri­ence of the recorded his­tory of these two works, and the Czech Phil­har­monic, play­ing mag­nif­i­cently, en­ter into the drama at ev­ery stage.

As a whole, this ex­cel­lently-recorded col­lec­tion is pow­er­ful tes­ta­ment to B lohlávek’s depth of un­der­stand­ing of reper­toire close to his heart along with his char­ac­ter­is­tic in­tegrity and brac­ing lack of sen­sa­tion­al­ism. Jan Smaczny



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