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Sinfonietta / Idyll / Suite for String Orchestra

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 18, 1999
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 18, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Chandos
  • ASIN: B00000IYN0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #339,518 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Jirí Belohlávek Store

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By G.D. VINE VOICE on February 15, 2009
Format: Audio CD
This is a very worthwhile collection of Janacek orchestral works, although the selection might strike some as a little strange. The Idyll and the Suite for strings are early works, more reminiscent of Grieg and Dvorak than later Janacek - indeed, it would be hard to guess the composer just by listening to the music. That said, there are some quirky harmonic shifts and a few details which might give attentive listeners some clues. But even if not characteristic, these are fine works, well worth hearing, and they are given generally fine performances here.

The famous Sinfonietta also receives an admirable performance, even if it perhaps isn't quite the best available - Belohlavek's colors are exactly right, but one could wish for a more dynamic account of the last movement. That said, the inner movements are marvelous with some excellent woodwind playing but more importantly a masterly ability on Belohlavek's (and the players') part to conjure up the right moods and atmospheres. In the end, this is a glorious version which demands to be heard even if the final movement is a little too restrained. The other well-known work here, Taras Bulba, doesn't fare quite as well. Again, Belohlavek draws color and atmosphere from his players, and again there is some admirable woodwind playing, but the performance lacks urgency and intensity - the sharp contrasts in the work are slightly dulled; the almost feverishly prophetic quality of the work is replaced with something resembling resignation in the face of fate.

The lesser known works are good, however.
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Format: Audio CD
Listeners who are used to the assertive burnished brass of Janacek's Sinfonietta or Taras Bulba or the spiky lines of Janacek's operas may be surprised at the three pieces on this Chandos CD. All are gentle pieces exclusively for strings and quite lovely. The CD opens with the six-movement Suite for Strings, of the same mood as the Elgar or Dvorak Serenades for Strings. The second work is an orchestration by conductor Gregory Rose of six pieces from the solo piano composition On An Overgrown Path. They were originally worked into string quartet format in 1978 by Jarmil Burghauser. The title of the set comes from a regional wedding song. The third and final piece, which is the longest on the disc is the Idyll for Strings. This is wonderful music to relax or meditate by. It is played her by the London Jupiter Orchestra, assembled by Gregory Rose in 1986. They give a very polished performance, though I marginally prefer the somewhat fuller sound of the versions of Janacek's works for strings by Ross Pople and the London Festival Orchestra.
Note: My CD is the original 1993 version. In the reissue four further works were added.
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