The high point is a Glagolitic Mass that feels perfectly liv
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 06/19/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Supraphon is overselling by calling all of is recorded output gold, but there are many arresting performances in the series. This one of the Glagolitic Mass, released in 1964, is one of them. It wasn't in Ancerl's nature to be as raw and fierce in this score as Kubelik and others have been. He is often lyrical and tender. Fortunately for him, he has a soprano and tenor who encompass their treacherous parts without screaming. The Czech chorus is the best-sounding, most idiomatic and comfortable that I've ever heard. The Czech Phil. is more rustic -- or is it ragged? -- than several of the international orchestras who have recorded the work, but they too sound completely at home. I agree with the original Gramophone critic who found the organist too tame for his wild obligatto outburst. The same reviewer compared the late Mass with the Sinfonietta written just before it when Janacek was 72 and entering his miraculous late phase, which he called a "new jet from my soul": The Mass displays "the same brightness and pungency of timbre, the same fertile, vigorous way of building whole movements from a single motif."
Supraphon's sound has come up well in remastering, with clarity from orchestra, soloists and chorus. This recording has a you-are-there presence that immediately captures your attention, and it never loses its musicality in the midst of Janacek's impassioned exclamations. Only some strained, wobbly singing here and there is a drawback; otherwise, this reading is a standout in the catalog. As for the filler, Taras Bulba, I've been very little focused on Janacek's orchestral productions. The idiom of this three-movement Rhapsody for Orchestra combines diffuse, almost easy-listen romanticism with enough mystery and tangy dissonance to tell us immediately who the composer is. It dates from 1918, when the composer was 64; the great flood of late operas was two years away, Jenufa was 14 years behind. I've never quite gotten this disjointed work, but Ancerl gives it a piquant, sharply etched reading."
Ancerl at his very best.......
Timothy Mikolay | Pittsburgh, PA | 04/20/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A recording of any mass by a great composer should stand on its own BEFORE one purchases it. This is easily said of this performance of Janacek's Glagolitic Mass. From its least interesting moments - the well registered but pedantic organ playing of Jarolslav Vodrazka - to its most exciting - the work of the Prague Philharmonic Chorus at every moment they're singing - Ancerl has assembled a stellar ensemble and offers us an exceptional reading.
Though less energetic and certainly not as frantic as Kubelik's classic recording on DG (just listen to the artery clogging ending to 'Slava'), Ancerl evokes a certain power from his players which draws me to the music every time. As far as soloists go, this foursome is unmatched on disc and will probably remain so. Soprano Domaninska is stunning in her diction and intonation and tenor Beno Blachut expertly manages to power through the cataclysmic 'Slava' without ever sacrificing musicianship.
I think the sound of the disc is amazing considering it was made nearly 50 years ago. This is a welcome addition if not initial investment into a Janacek collection."