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Janacek: Glagolitic Mass, Sinfonietta / Wit, Libor, Gierlach, Marciniec, Bentch [blu-ray Audio]

Janacek / Libor / Marciniec / Bentch / Gierlach
Release Date: 11/15/2011 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 26  
Composer:  Leos Janácek
Performer:  Wojciech Adalbert GierlachEwa MarciniecTimothy BentchChristiane Libor,   ... 
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic OrchestraWarsaw Philharmonic Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 1 Hours 3 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is an audio-only (i.e., with no video content) Blu-ray disc playable only on Blu-ray players.

Also available on CD


JANÁ?EK Glagolitic Mass . Sinfonietta Antoni Wit, cond; Christiane Libor (sop); Ewa Marciniec (alt); Timothy Bentch (tenor); Wojciech Gierlach (bs); Jarols?aw Malanowicz (org); Warsaw PO & Ch Read more NAXOS NBD0026 (Blu-ray: 62:54)

If you’re looking for sonic blockbusters to show off the newest technology—especially if you’re looking for something more intellectually respectable than the 1812 Overture and more mainstream than Aho’s Symphony No. 12—you can’t do much better than these two explosive products of Janá?ek’s final years. And Naxos rises to the occasion with engineering that’s thrilling but not garish, with realistic instrumental timbres, solid (but not aggressive) bass support, and a superior sense of acoustic space. Still, it’s hard to forget the competition from An?erl, Kubelík, and Mackerras (especially his Czech Philharmonic recording of the Glagolitic Mass )—not to mention (a few steps behind) Bernstein’s. Good as these new Polish performances are, they don’t reach those interpretive heights.

What marks this music is its raw power—and while there’s plenty of power here (listen, as but one example, to the way Wit builds to the ending of “V?ruju”), it’s not always sufficiently raw. Yes, there’s a superb sneer on the muted solo trumpet calls that begin at measure 35 in the “V?ruju,” and the woodwinds in the Sinfonietta’s second movement are suitable acrid. But more often than not, colors are too creamy (surely, the woodwinds could shriek more effectively in the third movement of the Sinfonietta). The music’s profile is often blunted, too; dotted rhythms could be bolder, accents sharper. As a consequence, too many of the crucial gestures lack conviction: The falling figures beginning at “Vzeml’ej gr?chy mira” need more bardic ruggedness; the choral shouts at the crucifixion (“Raspet že zany,” m.232 of the “V?ruju”) could be more assertive, more terror-riven; the high trumpets at the very end of the Mass might just as well not be there (Kubelík is the real master here). It’s not only the outbursts that can be disappointing; a greater sense of mystery at the beginning of the “Agne?e Boži” would be welcome, too. And while Wit is sometimes attentive to Janá?ek’s intentional formal gawkiness, at other times he irons out his disjunctures (try the false endings of the fourth movement of the Sinfonietta).

Still, anyone who buys this release will get plenty of interpretive rewards: in the soulfulness of the “Gospodi pomiluj,” in the drive toward the end of the “Slava,” in the inevitability of the throbbing bass line in the first section of the “Svet.” The soloists are generally good (I especially appreciate the heroics of tenor Timothy Bentch in his strenuous part), and the chorus, if sometimes a bit distant, is surely well prepared. Recommended for those wanting to explore the new medium.

FANFARE: Peter J. Rabinowitz
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Works on This Recording

Glagolitic Mass by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Wojciech Adalbert Gierlach (Bass), Ewa Marciniec (Mezzo Soprano), Timothy Bentch (Tenor),
Christiane Libor (Soprano), Jaroslaw Malanowicz (Organ)
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra,  Warsaw Philharmonic Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; Brno, Czech Republic 
Sinfonietta by Leos Janácek
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; Brno, Czech Republic 

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