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Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Antonin DVORÁK (1873-1943)
Requiem (1891) [102.32]
Magdalena Hajossyova (sop)
Vera Soukoupova (alto)
Jozef Kundlak (ten)
Peter Mikulas (bass)

Leos JANACEK (1854-1928)
Glagolytic Mass (1926) [39.32]
Magdalena Hajossyova (sop)
Viktoria Stracenska (alto)
Vilem Prebyl (ten)
Richard Novak (bass)
Slovak PO and Chorus

cond: Zdenek Kosler (Dvorák); Ladislav Slovak (Janacek)
Reissues licensed from Opus
REGIS 2CD set RRC2019 [142.04]
Bargain price (around £6 per disc)

These two works make stylistically contrasting disc-fellows. The Dvorak has its origins in British oratorio tradition. It was written for the 1890 Birmingham Festival. The Janacek blows away the Victorian dust and is ignited by flaming fervour and mysticism.

The Requiem has its moments as we would expect from Dvorák - a master lyricist. The Sanctus is one of those moments; the tenor line with its strolling pace echoed by the choir and other soloists until all takes flight in a Rex Tremendae climax. The Requiem is uneven. However it receives some wonderfully persuasive illumination from the Slovakian players and singers and I recommend it very strongly to Dvorakians already captivated by St Ludmilla and The Spectre's Bride. The very same listeners should try Stanford's Requiem also premiered at Birmingham but seven years after the Dvorák.

The Janacek throws open the doors and sings of open air exaltation. Its travelling companions are the Delius Mass of Life and Requiem and the Mahler choral symphonies (try the string writing in Vruju); also The Rite of Spring (in Agnece Bosij). Among Janacek's own output those fanfares most readily conjure memories of Sinfonietta. The recording is lively and life-like. While the work is one of Janacek's old age the work is struck through with the most vivid and musical of effects. There is no doubt that the work benefits from the locale and artists. Rattle's EMI recording, while very fine orchestrally, lacks the desperate beauty of the Slovakian voices (listen to the soloists in Svet). If you sample the singing in Slava you will also see what I mean. The precise ferocity of the cries of 'Amin' is a joy.

I still favour the rather antiquated sounding Ancerl recording on Supraphon but the Slovakians are amongst the best of the modern performances (e.g. Jilek on Supraphon). The Mackerras Supraphon CD, often venerated, and admirable in many respects is compromised by the vulnerability of Söderström's vibrato. The 1978 recording (I date this from other sources) is pretty good.

I take issue with Regis over their failure to provide discographical information and texts/translations. It would have been good to know about recording venues and session dates. On the positive side this is a very fine coupling indeed and is easily recommendable at its bargain price.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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