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Jaroslav KRČEK (b. 1939)
The Lord’s Prayer, from the Aramaic [8:37]
Mass No. 10 (2016) [19:01]
Ne tempori credideris (1986) [13:34]
O, lux mundi (1985) [17:19]
Petra Havránková and Ludmila Vernerová (sopranos): Lenka Pištěcká (mezzo soprano): Karel Jakubů and Lubomír Vraspír (tenors): Zdeněk Havránek (bass)
Czech Girls´s Choir Jitro/Gentlemen Singers/Iuventus pedagogica
Musica Bohemica Prague/Jaroslav Krček
Slovak Chamber Orchestra/Bohdan Warchal
rec. 1986-2017, Domovina Studio, Prague; Czech Radio; Bratislava
Texts and translations included
ARCO DIVA UP0202-2131 [59:00]

This is the companion volume to Arco Diva’s instrumental disc, and similarly a retrospective devoted to some of some of Jaroslav Krček’s music. For more on the composer you can pursue several reviews on this site, but it’s worth pointing out that his eightieth birthday falls in 2019.

The two newly-recorded pieces are The Lord’s Prayer from the Aramaic and Mass No.10, both taped in Prague’s Domovina Studio in 2017. The other pieces come from 1986 and 1993. The Lord’s Prayer is introduced by a pensive orchestral statement which as so often is gently infiltrated and infused by folkloric elements and deft use of winds. The solo tenor and choral writing moves incrementally toward the ringing, affirmative Amerns with which the Prayer ends. There’s something of the light fusion about the Mass, though one wouldn’t necessarily think so in its early stages, which mix richness with more athletically virile rhythms. Both the tenor solo – very warm and attractive – and the adroit soprano bring a personal quality to the choral writing and it’s not until the arrival of World music elements in the Sanctus-Benedictus – do I hear bongos over string bass? – that the work’s ambit expands ever outward.

Ne tempori credideris comes from a 1993 Czech Radio broadcast performance. Here one senses the composer’s vast reservoir of knowledge and experience in Baroque and allied musics, given the Renaissance-tinged cadences and the feel of immersion in the milieu to be heard here. But with Krček this inevitably feels like an interchange between time periods and never a pastiche. So whilst there may be sections that sound a little like stripped-back Orff, the conga processional of the finale with its flute-dance lead – which eventually winds down sensitively – is a creation all Krček’s own. The flute is again prominent in O, lux mundi which stands very much more securely in the Renaissance lineage. There are unsettled elements here, though, with voices - and the piano - emerging from the taut instrumental tapestry most attractively.

The solo singers have most appealing voices and the orchestral forces are notably familiar with Krček’s muse – among them conductor Bohdan Warchal, who was always an insightful interpreter with his Slovak Chamber Orchestra and, of course, Musica Bohemica Prague.

This choral disc fits snugly alongside its instrumental companion. If I had to choose one it would be the instrumental disc, but both afford great pleasure and warm-hearted, communicative music-making.

Jonathan Woolf

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