Antonin DVORÁK (1873-1943)
Vera Soukoupova (alto)
Jozef Kundlak (ten)
Peter Mikulas (bass)
Leos JANACEK (1854-1928)
Glagolytic Mass (1926)
Viktoria Stracenska (alto)
Vilem Prebyl (ten)
Richard Novak (bass)
Slovak PO and Chorus
cond: Zdenek Kosler (Dvorák); Ladislav Slovak (Janacek)
Reissues licensed from Opus
REGIS 2CD set RRC2019
Bargain price (around £6 per disc)
These two works make stylistically contrasting disc-fellows. The Dvorak has
its origins in British oratorio tradition. It was written for the 1890 Birmingham
Festival. The Janacek blows away the Victorian dust and is ignited by flaming
fervour and mysticism.
The Requiem has its moments as we would expect from Dvorák
- a master lyricist. The Sanctus is one of those moments; the tenor
line with its strolling pace echoed by the choir and other soloists until
all takes flight in a Rex Tremendae climax. The Requiem is
uneven. However it receives some wonderfully persuasive illumination from
the Slovakian players and singers and I recommend it very strongly to Dvorakians
already captivated by St Ludmilla and The Spectre's Bride.
The very same listeners should try Stanford's Requiem also premiered
at Birmingham but seven years after the Dvorák.
The Janacek throws open the doors and sings of open air exaltation. Its
travelling companions are the Delius Mass of Life and Requiem and
the Mahler choral symphonies (try the string writing in Vruju); also
The Rite of Spring (in Agnece Bosij). Among Janacek's own output
those fanfares most readily conjure memories of Sinfonietta. The recording
is lively and life-like. While the work is one of Janacek's old age the work
is struck through with the most vivid and musical of effects. There is no
doubt that the work benefits from the locale and artists. Rattle's EMI recording,
while very fine orchestrally, lacks the desperate beauty of the Slovakian
voices (listen to the soloists in Svet). If you sample the singing
in Slava you will also see what I mean. The precise ferocity of the
cries of 'Amin' is a joy.
I still favour the rather antiquated sounding Ancerl recording on Supraphon
but the Slovakians are amongst the best of the modern performances (e.g.
Jilek on Supraphon). The Mackerras Supraphon CD, often venerated, and admirable
in many respects is compromised by the vulnerability of Söderström's
vibrato. The 1978 recording (I date this from other sources) is pretty good.
I take issue with Regis over their failure to provide discographical information
and texts/translations. It would have been good to know about recording venues
and session dates. On the positive side this is a very fine coupling indeed
and is easily recommendable at its bargain price.