Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Leoš JANÁCEK (1854-1928)
String Quartet No. 2 "Intimate Letters" (1928)
The Lindsays
Recorded in the Concert Hall, Faculty of Music, Cambridge in 1991
Mládí (Youth) Septet for wind ensemble (1924)
The Wind Soloists of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Recorded in St Peter’s Morden, London June 1989
Pohádka (Fairy Tale) (1910)
Bernard Gregor-Smith (cello) and Yolande Wrigley (piano)
Recorded at the University of Surrey, Guildford, August 1990
Adagio II for organ * (ed. Rheinberger) (1884)
Otce Nás (The Lord’s Prayer) (1901 rev. 1906)
Zdrávas Maria (1904)
Geoffrey Webber (organ) *
Choir of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge/Geoffrey Webber
All three pieces recorded in Queen’s College Chapel Cambridge, June 1994
ASV PLATINUM PLT 8509 [78:22]
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ASV’s new budget Platinum series offers some exceedingly good compilations. This Janáček repackaged album is an excellent example; treasure-trove for the adventurous music lover who will be rewarded with a programme of colourful and approachable music in an appealing variety of forms.

The opening work is the Second String Quartet composed in the last year of Janáček’s life. Subtitled “Intimate Letters” it was inspired by the composer’s love for Kamila Stösslova to whom he wrote with “obsessive regularity” as Jan Smaczny writes. The music would seem to be evocative of passionate correspondence indeed! Terse, angry, petulant outbursts, gentle lyricism and ardent romanticism are all there. The Lindsays realise all these emotions in a taut, polished performance.

Mládí (Youth) incorporates elements of Moravian folk music and the composer’s studies of speech rhythms. The work expresses an old man’s feelings of nostalgia for his carefree days of youth. Intriguing rhythms and imaginative instrumental combinations and registers, intrigue the ear and there is a sense of the comic bucolic and the pastoral.

Pohádka (Fairy Story) is an enchanting romantic work full of youthful charm and melody, for cello and piano. It is something of a conversation piece with much use of alternate staccato (or pizzicato in the case of the cello) and legato exchanges.

The Second Adagio for organ probably had its origins in improvisation at the organ for the music is quite free and sounds spontaneous.

The real find though is the beauty of Janáček’s setting of The Lord’s Prayer. This lovely work is worth the price of the CD alone. The opening Andante is feather-light and rapt, the deep organ pedal and the rippling harp ostinato providing a serene grounding for the multi-part male chorus arching overhead before the entry of the tenor soloist strongly intoning "Our Father, which art in heaven." The second movement, "Thy will be done", features a long-breathed tenor melody and some gorgeous choral harmonics. The brief third movement brings drama and a more impassioned plea "Give us this day our daily bread" after a storm has wrecked the village’s harvest. Humble devotions are given, "Forgive us our trespasses" in the Adagio fourth movement that features the tenor soloist (unidentified). The concluding movement "Lead us not into temptation" is another realistic tableau of village life, like that of the third movement – an exhausted mother leans over her little sleeping child unaware that a murderous thief stands behind. The aggressive ostinato and the dramatic end of the composition seems to reflect the imminent death of the hapless mother. The compilation ends with Zdrávas Maria (Hail Mary) for tenor, chorus and organ and solo violin that owes much to Janáček’s transcribing and arranging Czech folk melodies.

An inspired compilation of lesser known Janáček’s works. All are colourful and approachable and the beauty of the setting of The Lord’s Prayer is deeply affecting. Thoroughly recommended.

Ian Lace

 


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