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Janacek: Glagolitic Mass; Schubert / Masur

Release Date: 08/28/2007 
Label:  Lpo   Catalog #: 29   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Franz SchubertLeos Janácek
Performer:  Gustav BelacekDavid GoodePavol BrslikZdena Kloubová,   ... 
Conductor:  Kurt Masur
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic OrchestraBrno Czech Philharmonic Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 5 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SCHUBERT Symphony No. 8, “Unfinished.” JANÁ?EK Glagolitic Mass 1 Kurt Masur, cond; Zdena Kzoubová (sop); 1 Karen Cargill (mez); 1 Pavol Breslik (ten); 1 Gustav Belá?ek (bs); 1 David Goode (org); Read more class="SUPER12">1 Czech PCh of Brno; 1 London PO LPO 29 (65:06) Live: 7/28/2004

These performances were recorded live in July 2004 by BBC Radio-3 at Royal Albert Hall. As an example of state-of-the-art recording technology, the disc is a sonic marvel. Surely the formidable sound of the London PO has never been captured more sensuously than in this cavernous and acoustically problematic space. In fact the acoustic vastness of Royal Albert Hall provides something like the ideal ambience for Leoš Janá?ek’s 1926 choral masterpiece, the Glagolitic Mass . Though a number of fine recordings are available—those of Mackerras/Danish National RS (Chandos), An?erl/Czech PO (Supraphon 3667), and Kubelík/Bavarian Radio SO (DG 429182) come immediately to mind—this new release under Kurt Masur will almost certainly secure a place near the front of the line.

Masur’s fine ear for perfectly balanced ensemble is evident in every detail of this demanding score. He also assembled a stellar group of soloists (Pavol Breslik’s tenor solos in the Credo are magnificent) and the Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno, a relatively new ensemble, enunciates the Old Church Slavonic text with exquisite clarity. The golden qualities of the London PO brass choir cannot be heard to finer effect than here and the orchestra’s upper strings remain rich and true, even in the stratosphere where Janá?ek loves to cast them. David Goode’s organ solos threaten to ignite. After so majestic and radiant a performance, small wonder that the final timpani stroke of the orchestral postlude unleashes thunderous applause from the audience.

Unfortunately, to my ears at least, the curtain raiser for this extravaganza, Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony, falls short of the mark. Here is the sort of technically polished, perfectly calibrated, business-like, and emotionally distant performance that New Yorkers became accustomed to during Masur’s tenure as music director of the New York PO. Frankly, how a conductor of Masur’s gifts, steeped in the Austro-German canon, can phone in such a foursquare, affect-free reading of this iconic symphony is beyond me. For the hallowed realms of the “Unfinished,” you’re better off with either of two relatively antipodal performances: Furtwängler/Berlin PO (DG 423572) or, for progressives, Goodman/Hanover Band (Brilliant Classics 99587).

Buy the CD for the resplendent Janá?ek, skip the Schubert, and enjoy the interesting notes written by the Janá?ek expert, Gavin Plumley.

FANFARE: Patrick Rucker
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 8 in B minor, D 759 "Unfinished" by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Kurt Masur
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1822; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 07/28/2004 
Venue:  Live  Royal Albert Hall, London, England 
Length: 24 Minutes 51 Secs. 
Glagolitic Mass by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Gustav Belacek (Bass), David Goode (Organ), Pavol Brslik (Tenor),
Zdena Kloubová (Soprano), Karen Cargill (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Kurt Masur
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Brno Czech Philharmonic Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; Brno, Czech Republic 
Date of Recording: 07/28/2004 
Venue:  Live  Royal Albert Hall, London, England 
Length: 39 Minutes 53 Secs. 

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