Leos JANÁČEK (1854-1928)
Sinfonietta(1926) [22.57] Taras Bulba,
rhapsody for orchestra (1915-1918) [21.55] The Cunning
Little Vixen: suite (1921-1923) [16.30]
Symphony Orchestra/Jonathan Nott
rec. Joseph-Keilberth-Saal, Bamberg, Germany; 25-28 October
Co-production with Bavarian Radio, Munich TUDOR 7135 [61.42]
good set of interpretations but too literal and
lacking the atmosphere of the greatest recordings.
have found Jonathan Nott’s Schubert recordings with the Bamberg
Symphony rather lacklustre, and have often been puzzled by
the positive critical opinion lauded upon them. Few such
feelings exist with this disc, however.
heard on a standard CD player, the brass in the opening Fanfare
of Janáček’s Sinfonietta are fulsome in their
creation of the right atmosphere. Nott does not blast the
listener with the brass as other conductors, notably Sir
Charles Mackerras, have done in the past. To my way of thinking
that makes Nott’s recording all the stronger. The ensuing
Andante/Allegro is tensely argued yet the orchestral lines
remain clear and with body throughout. The third movement
Moderato starts with a suitably airy ambience being created,
capturing the delicacy of much that is contained in Janáček’s
writing, though a near-military feel is present in some contributions
made by the brass. The fourth movement Allegretto is a sequence
of carefully graded dynamics, which prove somewhat effective.
The closing Andante con moto/Allegretto sees a gradual build-up
of tension and an eventual return to the opening fanfares
of the work.
as a reading I find that something just does not add up to
the sum achieved by Mackerras on Decca or Kubelik on DG.
Kubelik’s recording of Taras Bulba also holds its
own against the more brilliantly recorded version that Nott
conducts. The tension in Kubelik’s recording is arguably
heightened by the relative age of his recording, though the
sound was good for its time and is still respectable. Tudor’s
engineering for Nott seems too literal whereas Kubelik achieves
more through suggestion in this death-filled orchestral rhapsody.
comparative rarity here is The Cunning Little Vixen suite,
as arranged by Frantisek Jilek, rather than the later suite
arranged by Talich, taking material from the middle of Act
I, Act II including the Vixen’s entrance, and Act III’s first “transformation”.
It makes for a sequence that fuses the feeling for nature
with rather grander overtones, and it is this last aspect
in which the Bamberg players excel to bring both the suite
and the disc to an involving conclusion. The music is well
supported by informative notes from Walter Labhart.
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