Not a bargain
Gregory M. Zinkl | Chicago, IL | 03/30/1999
(2 out of 5 stars)
"In theory there probably really is nothing much wrong about this performance, but then again, there isn't that much that is exceptional either. What IS noteworthy is the lousy engineering (Naxos has done MUCH better). The woodwinds are in your lap, the percussion, especially the timpani, are hiding behind a thick velvet curtain, and the strings are muffled under water. Janacek's music is there, but you can hardly hear it. Lenard doesn't pay that much attention to details, and tends to homogenize the spiky textures of Janacek's orchestration; he also phrases so that the motifs are choppy and not well-connected. However, the clarinetist is worth hearing in V for his/her big melody line, although the piccolo s/he is paired with is well below par. Your bargain CD dollars are spent better elsewhere. Even well-engineered mono recordings would outclass this one."
One of the best Janacek SINFONIETTA recordings, and a bargai
Alan Majeska | Bad Axe, MI, USA | 11/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Some listeners may not agree, but this is one of the best Janacek Sinfonietta recordings, and a bargain to boot, in my experience. The Slovak orchestra employed by Naxos to record Janacek's Sinfonietta, Taras Bulba, and rarely heard Lachian Dances plays with fire and spirit, if they are not Karajan's Berlin Philharmonic or Ormandy's Philadelphia. But they understand Janacek's idiom, as they are from near the Slovak Republic, Janacek's native country. (Both the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the end of World War I in 1918, most of Janacek's life.)
I don't know anything about Ondrej Lenard, except that he has made some recordings for Naxos, including Johann Strauss Waltzes and Tchaikovsky's "Manfred" Symphony. In Janacek, Lenard has a real understanding of the music, and knows how to set tempos that serve the music appropriately. The woodwinds of the Slovak orchestra are very good, polishing off the needed runs in Sinfonietta: IV with great precision.
Lenard's Sinfonietta is superior to Szell/Cleveland (Sony Essential Classics), which is cold and unyielding. While Lenard's "Taras Bulba" may not be the equal of Andrew Davis/Toronto (Coupled with Szell's Sinfonietta) it is very good, and the rare Lachian Dances well recorded here make this a desirable recording. I recommend this, as it is low priced, and has very good sound, and mostly top notch playing by the Slovak orchestra."
Gregory M. Zinkl | 12/24/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"There are some mistakes in Sinfonietta. Especially, the timpany player made some big mistakes in the 1st and 5th movements. Also, the extra brass players for Sinfonietta are not very good. Their performance is somewhat uncontrolled."