One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928)
Glagolitic Mass (1928) [39:33]
Sinfonietta (1926) [23:21]
Christiane Libor (soprano); Ewa Marciniec (alto); Timothy Bentch (tenor); Wojciech Gierlach (bass); Jaroslaw Malanowicz (organ)
Warsaw Philharmonic Choir/Henryk Wojnarowski
Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra/Antoni Wit
rec. Warsaw Philharmonic Hall, Warsaw, 26-27 April 2010 (Mass); 29-30 September 2009 (Sinfonietta). Sung texts available here
Sound formats: PCM stereo, DTS Master Audio 5.1
NAXOS AUDIO NBD0026 [62:54]

Experience Classicsonline

There are few more visceral choral works in the repertoire than this, the mass setting overlaid with music of pagan pulse and passion. The many fine CD versions include those by Rafael Kubelik (DG) and Simon Rattle (EMI) but none are so compelling as Karel Ančerl’s Czech Philharmonic recording, re-mastered and reissued as part of Supraphon’s Gold Edition. Earlier this year I watched Vaclav Neumann’s live performance with the same orchestra – review – but found it uninspired. Rather more successful is Sir Charles Mackerras’s Supraphon DVD of the original version, although I must confess his Chandos CD doesn’t persuade me of its virtues.

The Glagolitic Mass is a cruel piece, exposing orchestral sluggishness and reticent or insecure soloists, while taxing the chorus with its punishing tessitura. Oh, and the organ needs to play its part as well; without its powerful presence – witness the backward balance on the Neumann DVD – the elemental thrill of this great piece is lost. As for the soloists, this is one time where Slavic singers are most welcome, their distinctive singing style well-suited to this most febrile work. On this new recording only Ewa Marciniec and Timothy Bentch are familiar from Antoni Wit’s Mahler 8 – review – which narrowly missed my list of picks for 2011 because of concerns about the multi-channel mix.

But why bother with the BD-Audio version when there’s a cheaper CD as well? Much better sound and a multi-channel option, is the simple answer. A random A/B comparison of that Mahler 8 in both stereo formats demonstrates the extra power and punch of the high-res PCM recording, which also resolves detail and timbres in a way that the standard RBCD simply can’t match. The downside, if there is one, is that these Blu-rays can only be played on BD players or drives, and potential sonic advantages will be lost if the playback chain isn’t up to the mark. That said, superior sound is not a given here, despite some labels’ rather vague assertion that performances are derived from ‘HD sources’. The latter claim is demonstrably untrue in some Blu-ray videos I’ve heard.

So much for the preamble, what about the performances? Well, the Introduction to the mass is more measured than I’d expected, the acoustic warm and spacious. I suppose one might even characterise the presentation as soft-grained, which is not at all what I’m used to in this piece. The Kyrie is somewhat subdued as well, soprano Christiane Libor pleasing if unmemorable. String and brass detail is nicely etched, but the bass is poorly focused. That said, those rocking figures in the Gloria are superbly articulated, timbres especially well caught. The pulse quickens a little – but only a little – with those cascading ‘Amens’, so ecstatically done elsewhere.

And if this sounds like damning with faint praise, that’s because it is. Wit, so purposeful and dynamic in the Mahler 8 and Penderecki’s Hymne an den Heiligen Danielreview – is unaccountably dull here; even the chorus, set back in the soundstage, is less fervent than it should be. But that’s the problem; this is much too civilised, too safe, qualities that are misplaced in a work as raw and fervid as this. Indeed, this reminds me of Charles Dutoit’s rather polite Decca recording of the mass, which also fails to animate and impress.

There’s more urgency in the Credo, and again I was struck by the sheer beauty and detail of Janáček’s score. Indeed, there’s a rare translucency to the upper and lower strings, the woodwinds wonderfully rounded, but that simply isn’t enough. The bass, Wojciech Gierlach, is steady but unremarkable, the spiritual and emotional core of the mass – ‘I believe’ – lacking all conviction. It’s not helped by Wit’s sluggish pacing and that cavernous bottom end, both of which blunt the music’s edge. As for the Sanctus, it flows less naturally than usual. Wit opts for an overparted style here and in the Agnus Dei that almost brings the music to its knees, not in prayer but in defeat. The soloists aren’t particularly tidy or involved, either.

Jaroslaw Malanowicz’s organ solo ought to be arresting, but thanks to compromised lower frequencies the pedals are simply swamped. For sheer heft and excitement Jane Parker-Smith on EMI is hard to beat. Indeed, dipping into Rattle’s and Ančerl’s recordings is like an assault on the senses; suddenly we’re thrust into the midst of a wild, pantheistic rite, an orgy of commotion and colour, that excites and enervates. There’s absolutely nothing of that energy in Wit’s risk-averse reading. Otto Klemperer once dismissed Bruno Walter’s Mahler as too Jewish; perhaps Wit’s Janáček, sober and strangely cloistered, is just too Catholic.

The Sinfonietta, recorded six months earlier, is much more successful. The Warsaw brass sound splendid, the trombones in the Moderato wonderfully rich and sonorous. It’s still too controlled for my tastes, but at least there’s a hint – a smidgeon – of the febrile, ear-ringing Janáček in the first and last movements. For the full experience just sample Claudio Abbado (DG) and Mackerras (Decca), both of which are in another league entirely. And that sums up this Glagolitic Mass as well; it doesn’t begin to challenge the best in the catalogue.

Some sonic virtues; its musical ones are much harder to find.

Dan Morgan











































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.