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Janácek: The Cunning Little Vixen / Mackerras, Popp, Et Al

Release Date: 10/25/1990 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 417129   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Leos Janácek
Performer:  Gertrude JahnLucia PoppEva HribikováZuzana Hudecová,   ... 
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera ChorusVienna Philharmonic OrchestraBratislava Children's Choir
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 50 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Janácek’s last three operas–The Cunning Little Vixen, The Makropulos Case, and From the House of the Dead–break new ground in their subject matter and musical treatment, but The Vixen may well be the most original of all. With its cast of animals and people, and based on a comic strip, it’s one of the most warm and vital operas ever conceived. It is also the only opera where the lead soprano defecates onstage (most do it offstage, I suppose), and gets shot and made into a muff. I mean, there’s really nothing else even remotely like it.

The music, too is extraordinary–almost a living organism all on its own. It pulsates with the sounds of nature, and features tunes of great
Read more simplicity one minute followed by sophisticated impressionist harmonies the next, all blended seamlessly. The music for the Vixen’s wedding (sound clip) gives a good picture of magical atmosphere that Janácek creates from the simplest of means. You can even play the work straight through simply for pleasure without worrying about what the singing is about. It’s just plain fun to listen to.

This performance is simply perfect. Mackerras has the Vienna Philharmonic playing with a sort of sharpness and point that you would hardly believe possible coming from this ensemble. The late Lucia Popp is a beguiling Vixen; Dalibor Jedlicka a wise and sympathetic Gamekeeper. There are no weak links among any other members of the human or animal contingents. The concluding scene, as the Gamekeeper contemplates the eternal cycle of life and the grandeur of nature, is so beautiful yet so pure, so unsentimental, that it will move you to tears.

As a bonus, you also get conductor Vacláv Talich’s Suite from the opera, which basically consists of the entire first act, heavily re-orchestrated. It’s wonderfully played, and while affectionately made it truly does vindicate Janácek’s original thoughts. It’s also worth mentioning that Universal Edition has at last published the full orchestral score in study format, and for those who love the work it’s well worth considering. This is one of the great recordings of anything.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

The Cunning Little Vixen by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Gertrude Jahn (Mezzo Soprano), Lucia Popp (Soprano), Eva Hribiková (Soprano),
Zuzana Hudecová (Soprano), Miriam Ondráskova (Soprano), Peter Saray (Boy Soprano),
Eva Zigmundová (Mezzo Soprano), Richard Novák (Tenor), Benno Blachut (Tenor),
Eva Randová (Mezzo Soprano), Ivana Mixová (Mezzo Soprano), Libuse Márová (Alto),
Vladimir Krejcik (Tenor), Václav Zitek (Baritone), Dalibor Jedlicka (Bass)
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bratislava Children's Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921-1923; Brno, Czech Republic 

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