Strange-seeming twins, gloriously played
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 01/06/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No, in real life there was never a concert that paired Janacek's Glagolitic Mass, with its hair-raising outcries in Old Chruch Slavonic, and Strauss's paean to Moliere, the suite from Le bourgeois gentilhomme. But it's wonderful to have them on this CD, which continues BBC Legend's posthumous tribute to Klaus Tennstedt, a conductor who looms larger every year as more live concerts are released.
The Janacek is a stupenouds performance, dating from 1985, in good-enough stereo from the acoustincally notorious Royal Festival Hall. This gigantic work can make the finest condcutors struggle to manage traffic, but Tennstedt imbues it with real style and makes the most cumbersome parts sound free and easy. Among the very good vocal soloist, the veteran Robert Tear throws himself into the grueling, high-flown tenor part with remarkable passion. I can't think of a better, more exciting performance all around, and the excellent London Phil. Choir adds to the boisterous, festive air.
The Strauss suite can come off as an arch exercise in 18th-century style, but Tennstedt's affection for the music makes Le Bourgeois gentilhomme's nine numbers sound fresh and sparkling, with touches of Viennese melancholy -- let's not fool ourselves into thinking we are anywhere near Paris. The reading is from 1986, again in Royal Festival Hall. The recording is so successful because the engineers had a smaler ensemble to work with. For the first time, I can say that I was thoroughly captivated.
All told, this strange duo deserve their place on this CD for being so uniformly inspired as performances."