One of the most grown-up review sites around

51,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


Reger Violin Sonatas
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Brahms Symphony 3
Dvorak Symphony 8
9 cello sonatas
Piano Music

Clara Schumann
piano concerto

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

Vraiment magnifique!

Quite splendid

Winning performances

Mahler Symphony 8
a magnificent disc

a huge talent

A wonderful disc

Weinberg Symphonies 2 & 21
A handsome tribute!

Roth’s finest Mahler yet

Mahler 9 Blomstedt
Distinguished performance


Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928)
Jenůfa - opera in three acts
Jenůfa – Michaela Kaune (soprano)
Laca – Will Hartmann (tenor)
Števa – Ladislav Egr (tenor)
Kostelnička – Jennifer Larmore (mezzo)
Grandmother Buryjovka – Hanna Schwarz (mezzo)
Orchestra and Chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin/Donald Runnicles
rec. live, Deutsche Oper, 2014
ARTHAUS MUSIK Blu-ray 109070 [131:00]

Christof Loy’s modern dress Jenůfa strips the action back to its barest essentials, and so universalises it into something of real power. The traces of Moravian realism are still there in the costumes at the wedding, but otherwise Jenůfa’s story could have happened to anyone anywhere. Intensifying the mood even more, the entire action takes place in a giant white cube, which occasionally opens up at the back to suggest the landscape, be it the fertile fields of summer or the frigid winter. This places the focus squarely on the interaction between the characters, and for a drama like this one that’s entirely appropriate.

It’s also successful. Loy creates a pressure cooker environment in the second act, where every gesture is amplified and intensified in its power, and the intrusions of the villagers and the minor characters in the outer acts inject some welcome colour, but also throw the actions of the main characters into relief, such as Laca’s very revealing interaction with the Foreman in the first act. The doors, windows and walls slide in and out of the monochrome set, and Loy seems to set most of the first act in the mind of the Kostelnička in flashback from her prison cell. However, he seems to drop the idea fairly quickly, and he doesn’t go anywhere with it.

The singing cast are all excellent, crowned by a spellbinding Kostelnička from Jennifer Larmore. For a start, she sings the role with genuine musicality – no hint of a shrieking harpy – and she does so very beautifully at that. She is also electric to watch, twisting her face into contempt or resentment during the second act, while radiating authority in the first, and then being utterly crushed in the last. I haven’t seen as fine a Kostelnička since Anja Silja at Glyndebourne in 1989 (ArtHaus 100208), and that’s high praise.

Michaela Kaune sings a glowing, beautiful Jenůfa. She is always completely sympathetic, beautiful in her prayers and her evocation of the child in the second act, and you wonder how on earth Števa could resist her pleading in the first. Will Hartmann’s bright, burnished tenor almost comes across as too macho for Laca, but that makes him a joy to hear. Ladislav Egr makes a baritonal Števa, but that makes for a good contrast with Laca and he acts as convincingly as he sings. All three of the love-triangle look rather too old for the story – Jenůfa and the Kostelnička look more like sisters than parent and child – but you can forgive that for the dramatic truth they evoke. The lesser roles are all very well taken, especially a booming Grandmother Buryjovka from the veteran Hanna Schwarz in a deep red wig.

The orchestral playing is really outstanding, too. Captured in HD surround sound, every detail emerges from the rippling xylophone of the mill wheel to the glorious burst of C major that ends the opera — and which is staged with beautifully simple understatement. The orchestra are brilliantly incisive to accompany the Kostelnička’s spat out threats of the second act, but the strings also manage a sound of beauty for the music associated with the baby. Runnicles, too, directs the piece with total conviction, bringing the authority of the Music Director in his own theatre.

There is a rather annoying spell in the third act where the subtitles are out of place with the action, but beyond that there isn’t much to criticise. Anyone who loves this opera will want the Glyndebourne DVD (4:3 aspect; pcm stereo), which is head and shoulders above almost all the other filmed competition, but if you want a pin-prick-precise picture and HD surround sound, then this Berlin disc is probably now the top choice.

Simon Thompson


We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger