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Janacek: Sinfonietta; Glagolitic Mass Original recording remastered

6 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, September 14, 1999
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Product Details

  • Performer: Felicity Palmer, Malcolm King, John Mitchinson, Ameral Gunson, Jane Parker-Smith
  • Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus & Orchestra
  • Conductor: Simon Rattle
  • Composer: Leos Janácek
  • Audio CD (September 14, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B00000K4FH
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #242,288 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Mark Swinton on May 12, 2001
Format: Audio CD
One of EMI's great recordings, this was in fact the first completely digital recording of the "Glagolitic Mass" to be made. The young Simon Rattle does it and the "Sinfonietta" full justice.
What of the music? Both these works date from the last years of Janacek's life and show his creative maturity in full bloom. His "Sinfonietta" is possibly the apex of his ethnomusical work in that it is positively dripping with Moravian folk-style motifs, projecting the heart and soul of Brno and its people as seen by the composer through his early-century collecting and absorbing of real folk music. Its five movements take us on a pictorial tour of the city of Brno, where Janacek spent most of his life living and working. The opening fanfare could almost qualify as a Janacek signature theme, just as the bassoon solo at the start of "The Rite of Spring" and the flute solo at the opening of "Prelude a l'apres midi d'une faune" are the signature tunes of Stravinsky and Debussy respectively. Beyond it lie four further movements of memorable melodies and rich orchestral harmonies: busy clarinets and strings at the start of the second movement; the curiously subdued harmonic progressions in the third movement that also seem to ache with longing at times; the lively and charming interplay between woodwind and strings (with a cameo from a rather loud bell!) in the fourth movement; and finally the beautiful final movement with its extended build-up to a reprise of the fanfare and an unforgettable climax. It is one of the great orchestral works of the last century, and in it Janacek certainly does not make it easy for the players.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Gio on May 27, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Critics have wondered why Leos Janacek, an avowed atheist, wrote a Mass at all, let alone one of his grandest and most original symphonic works, from his late-blooming apotheosis as one of the 20th Century's greatest composers. And why did he choose the Old Church Slavic, as recorded in the Glagolitic script, a language almost unintelligible by ear to modern Czechs and Slovaks except by way of familiarity with ritual? I have no authority for my impressions, but to me this Mass sounds thoroughly pagan, a celebration of some orgiastic pre-Christian rite involving springtime and vistory over the Huns and much consumption of barley brew and barbequed horse-flesh. If that's too subjective, then just get ready for exultant choruses, frenzied instrumental complexities, and ecstatic arias, culminating in an organ solo of drunken splendor and a triumphant "intrada" for a comclusion. Intrada last? Yup. And one has to gape in wonder at whatever it is that's entering.

Janacek is a composer who sounds like no one else, old or new. The closest comparison might be the Stravinsky of The Rite of Spring. The Sinfonietta prepares a new listener for Janacek's distinctively colorful instrumentation and splintered-stalactite rhythms. Then the Glagolitic Mass spills over you like the Moldau in flood. At the risk of attracting quibblers, I'll venture that this strange composition ranks with Mahler's Lied von der Erde and Beethoven's Ninth as monuments of choral symphonies.

The Missa Glagolitica is one of those pieces that need to be performed differently in concert and in recording.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Santa Fe Listener HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 17, 2006
Format: Audio CD
The Glagolitic Mass is a barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world. It still has the power to shock, but once Janacek's fierce idiom sinks in, the shouting chorus, berserk organ obligatto, and spiky Slavic flavor become addictive. To be honest, one performance sounds about the same as another--there have been many fine Czech recordings over the years. I'm not sure that Rattle is preferable to Bernstein, Kubelik, or Chailly, just to mention three big-name conductors who have given us good versions (Chailly's is the most refined, slowest, and least Czech--a Viennese perspective that works).

Rattle's reading tends toward the lyrical, providing unexpectedly tender shading in the opening movement. His tenor and soprano must negotiate high-flying lines that verge on the grotesquerie of Carmina Burana, and they do well, although it's impossible for any singer to keep perfectly in tune. I suppose one could comb through every recording to find the best soloists (many of the Czech versions feature a curdled Slavic tonality), yet the strained vocal lines are true to the rough-hewn nature of the piece. The filler to this ungenerous CD is a good, if smoothed out, reading of the popular Sinfonietta.
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