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If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

 

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Czech Classical Music
Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884) Overture/The Bartered Bride
Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) I.Introduction/Glagolitic Mass
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Slavonic Dance No.1; III.Scherzo.Vivace/ Serenade in E major
Bedřich SMETANA III.Finale.Presto/ Piano trio in G minor
Leoš JANÁČEK III.Andantino/ In the Mists
Josef SUK (1874-1935) Longing - Spring
Antonín DVOŘÁK Piano Quintet No.2 in A major; Biblical Song No.8; Slavonic Dance No.10
Bedřich SMETANA Why Shouldn´t We Be Happy from The Bartered Bride
Moravian Philharmonic Olomouc/Milan Kaňák; Brno Philharmonic Orchestra/Leoš Svárovský; Kristina Kasíková; Martin Kasík; Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice/Leoš Svárovský; Czech Trio; Tomáš Víšek; Wihan Quartet; Sergej Koptchak; Aleš Bárta; Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno; Czech Chamber Soloists´ Orchestra/Petr Fiala
ARCO DIVA UP0094-2 131 DDD [48:56]

 

Arco Diva have been steadily building an impressive catalogue. This collection operates as a sampler built from excerpts, a company calling card as well as a satisfying recital in its own right.

There’s a buoyant and muscular version of the Bartered Bride overture. This is followed by the regal introduction to the Janáček Glagolytic Mass conducted by Leoš Svárovský. It’s a strong contender and the complete disc quite properly caused quite a stir when first issued. Husband and wife team Kristine Kasiková and label mainstay Martin Kasik give a rafter-rattling Slavonic Dance No. 1 but can be heard in aristocratic gentle mode in the Op. 72 No. 10 dance later on. Svárovský again shows his mettle with a flighted and flaming Dvořák Serenade scherzo. The Czech Trio are then unleashed on the Presto finale of the Smetana Piano Trio with its Bruch-like lyricism and Bartered Bride vigour. Janáček’s subtle In the Mists - Andantino is given over to Martin Kasik. In this case the recording is too close to allow the haze and mist to work its full magic. By the side of the Janáček we have Suk’s Longing/Spring which is more salon Grieg than anything else. The third movement Scherzo of the Dvořák Piano Quintet op. 81 is brilliantly done by the Wihan Quartet (currently touring widely in the UK). Kasik is again in fine form - a bell tower to the robust work of the quartet. Sergej Koptchak (baritone) and organist Aleš Bárta then provide an extract from the Dvořák Biblical Songs - all rather dense and thickly accented for my taste but recorded with spectacular verity. Arco Diva end the collection well with a swashbuckling Why Shouldn´t We Be Happy which by its stamp and boisterousness must have gone down well in the Soviet heyday as well. There’s some lovely echo-and-dialogue passages and gratifying spatial effects as there are also in the overture.

At 48:56 its not exactly generous which is a pity.

There are some generalised notes on the last page of the double-fold insert.

Recommendable, if you can find it inexpensively, as an entrée into the world of Czech music; even if it is limited to the nineteenth century.

Rob Barnett

 



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