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Janacek: Taras Bulba, Lachian Dances / Wit, Warsaw

Janacek / Warsaw Philharmonic Orch / Wit
Release Date: 04/24/2012 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8572695   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Leos Janácek
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews


Everything about this disc is fabulous: the performances, the coupling, and the sonics. Antoni Wit’s Taras Bulba sounds like no other. It’s full of details that you won’t have heard before, particularly in the layering of textures and shades of woodwind color. This is particularly obvious in the second movement, “The Death of Ostap”, but these personal touches never get in the way of an idiomatic, indeed visceral response to the music’s high drama. Wit builds the tension in the first movement’s successive episodes as well as anyone ever has, and releases it in a truly menacing battle sequence, with vicious contributions from the low brass. In the finale the Naxos engineers balance the organ and
Read more orchestra uncannily in the concluding apotheosis, which Wit conducts with a wholly individual combination of grandeur and serenity. It’s just plain wonderful.

Wit’s first Janácek disc contained the Glagolitic Mass and the Sinfonietta, and finding appropriate couplings for the composer’s scant orchestral output is never easy. There are the two other symphonic poems (The Ballad of Blaník and The Fiddler’s Child), some assorted overtures, the Schluck und Jau incidental music, the early works for string orchestra, and very little else. Wit’s choice of the two dance suites turns out to be an inspired decision, since they offer music that marries very well with Taras Bulba. The Lachian Dances are somewhat well known from recordings, though still a rarity in concert, but the Moravian Dances of 1891, a five-movement suite lasting about nine minutes, remains the preserve of Janácek specialists. They are delightful, and I offer a sample of No. 2 (“Kalamajka”). For the record, Wit omits the optional organ part in the Lachian Dances (the score refers to it as “inobligato”), a smart idea as the orchestration is already somewhat thick. Strongest recommendation.

– David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Taras Bulba by Leos Janácek
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915-1918; Brno, Czech Republic 
2.
Moravian Dances (5) for Orchestra by Leos Janácek
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1888-1892; Brno, Czech Republic 
3.
Lachian Dances by Leos Janácek
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; Brno, Czech Republic 

Sound Samples

Taras Bulba, JW VI/15: I. Smrt Andrijova (Death of Andrij)
Taras Bulba, JW VI/15: II. Smrt Ostapova (The Death of Ostap)
Taras Bulba, JW VI/15: III. Proroctvi a smrt Tarase Bulby (The Prophecy and Death of Taras Bulba)
Lasske tance (Lachian Dances), JW VI/17: No. 1. Starodavny (Old-Time Dance)
Lasske tance (Lachian Dances), JW VI/17: No. 2. Pozehnany (Blessed)
Lasske tance (Lachian Dances), JW VI/17: No. 3. Dymak (A Blacksmith's Dance)
Lasske tance (Lachian Dances), JW VI/17: No. 4. Starodavny (Old-Time Dance)
Lasske tance (Lachian Dances), JW VI/17: No. 5. Celadensky (From Celadra)
Lasske tance (Lachian Dances), JW VI/17: No. 6. Pilky (Saw Dance)
Moravian dances, JW VI/7: No. 1. Kozich (Fur Coat)
Moravian dances, JW VI/7: No. 2. Kalamajka
Moravian dances, JW VI/7: No. 3. Trojky (Threes)
Moravian dances, JW VI/7: No. 4. Silnice (Road)
Moravian dances, JW VI/7: No. 5. Rozek (Little Corner)

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 Outstanding Performance July 31, 2014 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "If you like the distinctive music of Leos Janacek, by all means try this disk! If you are unfamiliar with Janacek's music, then you owe it to yourself to try this disk! Why do I say this? Simply put, this is a superb performance of 3 of Janacek's more well-known compositions, fully the equal of any previous recording these works have had over the years, and made especially worthwhile by the superb quality of the recording. The Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra is in true world class form on this Naxos disk- biting, deep, and rich string sound, powerful brass, and elegant winds, complemented by conductor Antoni Wit's unerring hand at the controls. This music grabs you with its raw dynamism, starting with the dramatic symphonic poem Taras Bulba and then migrating to the nationalistic Lachian and Moravian folk dances from Janacek's homeland. From a technical point of view, I think the sound which Naxos' audio engineers provide us on this recording falls squarely in the audiophile demonstration class. In short, what we have here is a viscerally exciting, totally compelling recording of the highest quality. I loved it, and I'm sure you will too. Absolutely recommended." Report Abuse
 Sounds overdone May 4, 2013 By Dr. Mitchell Gurk (Spencer, MA) See All My Reviews "It's all there, thickened, thus lacking the clarity and simplicity we expect from Slovakian music. Janacek is lately influential with up and coming virtuosi and composers. Granted, a lot is there, but to the unprofessional listener it can be a mush." Report Abuse
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