These performances are every bit as fine as the classic recordings by Czech conductors such as Ancerl and Kubelik, never mind the two splendid versions (of the original score, more or less) by Mackerras. Truth be told, there are few organizations better equipped to deliver satisfying performances of large choral works than Antoni Wit and his Warsaw forces. The choir is excellent, top to bottom; likewise, the orchestra. They sing and play in a warm, ample space that lets the sound fill the room naturally, with excellent balances and plenty of clarity even in the most complex textures. WitRead more almost always chooses a fine lineup of vocal soloists, as here. Soprano Christiane Libor has a Slavic tang to her voice (i.e. vibrato), but excellent pitch and an attractive tone. Tenor Timothy Bentch copes with Janácek's often murderous tessitura very well indeed.
None of this would matter if Wit did not understand Janácek's idiosyncratic style, but he manages to be both faithful to the idiom and refreshingly full of good interpretive ideas. Consider the concluding section of the Gloria, thrillingly fast, but no less precise. Then there is the biting articulation of the lower strings at the start of the Credo, those "speech rhythms" so tellingly rendered that you can almost hear the words. In the same movement, the build-up to the crucifixion is harrowing, the closing pages majestic but still impulsive. It's real Janácek. It's also impossible not to mention Jaroslaw Malanowicz's scorcher of an organ solo, and a conclusion that effectively lets the colorful weirdness of Janácek's brass writing register without exaggeration. It's a wonderful performance, plain and simple.
The brass-led Sinfonietta makes a natural coupling to the Mass, and Wit's reading is just as dazzling. Notice, in the opening fanfare, the effortless (and exciting) transition to the central allegro, and then back again, or the high-speed clarity of the third movement's big climax. In the finale Wit permits the screeching woodwinds to cut through the busy string textures with no loss of intensity. The return of the opening fanfare is handled perfectly, and the closing chords hit you with that physical thrill that always registers in the best performances. This is, by any standard, a major release--a mandatory purchase for anyone who loves this music, or wants to get to know it.
Superbly doneJuly 14, 2012By L. Ackerman (Washington, DC)See All My Reviews"The only problem this recording has is that it faces so much great competition. Otherwise, it is a superb coupling of two contemporary (1926) pieces, which have to be catalogued as truly masterful. Whatever recordings have come from Polish radio in general, and Maestro Wit in particular (many of them in Naxos) they have been not less than outstanding. This is no exception. The sound is truly spectacular, the performances excellent. So, if you collect performances, this is worthy. If you want to stick to the more idiomatic you can always go for Ancerl, Kubelik or Mackerras. "Report Abuse