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Janacek: Choral Music / James Wood, New London Chamber Choir


Release Date: 04/10/2012 
Label:  Helios   Catalog #: 55398   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Leos Janácek
Performer:  Daniel NormanJamie MacDougallClive WilliamsonAmanda Pitt,   ... 
Conductor:  James Wood
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New London Chamber ChorusCritical Band
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

JANÁ?EK Choral Works. • James Wood conducting New London Chamber Choir; Amanda Pitt, soprano 1; Jamie MacDougall, tenor 2; Daniel Norman, tenor 3; Critical Band 4. • HYPERION CDA66893 [DDD]; 74:39. Produced by Gary Cole. (Distributed by Harmonia Mundi, USA.) Nursery Rhymes4. Kašpar Rucký. The 70, 0003. The Wolf's Trail. Elegy on the Death of My Daughter Olga2. Songs of Hrad?any . Ave Maria. Our Father2.

Janácek's Nursery Rhymes (?íkadla) sound particularly youthful, but they were written in the composer's final years of glory. The eighteen songs are accompanied by a tiny wind band, including an ocarina, with occasional contributions from double bass, piano, harp, organ, and some delicate percussion.
Read more The music is close in spirit to that of The Cunning Little Vixen, and has, if anything, even more charm than that miraculous opera. This presentation is captivating—even more so than that on a Chandos disc reviewed in Fanfare 19:4. There the playing is more virtuosic and the recorded sound fuller, but the net effect is less intimate.

The remaining pieces are more serious, ranging from a humorous tracing of the life and death of the philandering rogue Kašpar Rucký to the patriotic tragedy of The 70,000 and the personal one of Elegy. Clive Williamson is the sensitive pianist in the latter. This is all gorgeous music, none more so than the haunting Hrad?any Songs for female voices with minimal accompaniments.

These performances strike me as nearly ideal, although a solo soprano and tenor strain a bit in one number each. Production values are equally high, from recorded sound to the inclusion of complete texts in Czech and English. Although the booklet lists more than forty members of the New London Chamber Choir, most songs are sung by smaller groups; besides the listed soloists, choir members are also given small solo parts. Although I find the singing graceful and convincingly idiomatic, it does not sound especially Czech; I suspect that native speakers will hear a foreign accent, so they might prefer the Chandos disc, on which ?íkadla is sung by nine students from a Prague music academy. That is the only possible quibble I can imagine about this enchanting Hyperion disc.

Fanfare: James H. North
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Seventy thousand by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Daniel Norman (Tenor)
Conductor:  James Wood
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New London Chamber Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1909; Brno, Czech Republic 
2.
Ave Maria by Leos Janácek
Conductor:  James Wood
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New London Chamber Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1883; Brno, Czech Republic 
3.
Elegy on the death of my daughter Olga by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Jamie MacDougall (Tenor)
Conductor:  James Wood
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New London Chamber Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1903/1904; Czech Republic 
4.
The wolf's trail by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Clive Williamson (Piano), Amanda Pitt (Soprano)
Conductor:  James Wood
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New London Chamber Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1916; Czech Republic 
5.
Kaspar Rucky by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Amanda Pitt (Soprano)
Conductor:  James Wood
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New London Chamber Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1916; Czech Republic 
6.
Songs of Hradcany by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Hugh Webb (Harp), Amanda Pitt (Soprano), Will Sleath (Flute)
Conductor:  James Wood
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New London Chamber Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1916; Czech Republic 
7.
Nursery rhymes by Leos Janácek
Conductor:  James Wood
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New London Chamber Chorus,  Critical Band
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927; Brno, Czech Republic 
8.
Our Father by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Hugh Webb (Harp), Christopher Bowers-Broadbent (Organ), Jamie MacDougall (Tenor)
Conductor:  James Wood
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New London Chamber Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1901/1906; Brno, Czech Republic 

Featured Sound Samples

Nursery Rhymes: No 19: "The bear sat on a tree trunk"
Songs of Hradcany: No 3: Poem in stone, midst quiet gardens

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 The Riches of Leos Janacek--Choral Music May 25, 2012 By George Kuryvial (Belleville, IL) See All My Reviews "The music of Janacek on this CD takes us to a different world with different sounds. The short pieces of "Nursery Rhymes" take us to the villages of Moravia over a hundred years ago. There, little things were important and observed. "Ripped Trousers" and "My Little Wife" are probably done with "tongue in cheek". If you like the sounds and rhythms of "The Cunning Vixen", you will like these short pieces with their instrumentations. "Kaspar Rucky" with its female voices and tenor soloist is a treat, not easy to find elsewhere. There is a sad history told through the music both in "The 70,000", the Elegie (which is beautiful music), and the "Golden Street", a reminder of poverty in Prague. The rendition of Ave Maria is very expressive with its nostalgia. It is unfortunate that the "Our Father" does not receive many public performances. It is a masterpiece in the use of organ, harp, four part choir and tenor soloist. And it expresses the Lord's Prayer in what Janacek may have experienced. "Give us our Daily Bread". It may express how he probably spent many years with little to eat. Or, "...your will be done on earth as it is in heaven..."; therein, he saw the injustices happening to his own people of his time in so many ways, hardly the plan of heaven. The ensemble expresses this very well. The Our Father is punctuated with the Amen and wonderful organ show piece, not to be missed. For listening to only certain selections, or for its entirety, this CD of Leos Janacek--Choral Music will give many moments of pleasure and insight. (Rev. George Kuryvial)" Report Abuse
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