Dvorák/Janácek

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COMPOSERS: Dvorak/Janacek
LABELS: Forlane
WORKS: Gypsy Songs, Op. 55; Four Songs, Op. 73; Two Songs, Op. 82; The Diary of One Who Disappeared
PERFORMER: Philip Langridge (tenor), Jean Rigby (contralto), Graham Johnson (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: UCD 16746 DDD

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This is Philip Langridge’s second recording of The Diary of One who Disappeared: the first appeared eight years ago and was of the orchestral version. The piano-accompanied original of Janácek’s passionate music-drama of the mind liberates the tenor’s now mature artistry into an even more immediate and compelling performance. As Janácek’s music, in its ardent economy of means, inflects and transforms every stark phrase and searing image, so the tale of the villager liberated by the gypsy woman unfolds in the dark sensuality of Jean Rigby’s mezzo-soprano and the graphic eloquence of Graham Johnson’s piano playing. Langridge’s understanding of Janácek from deep inside the operas provides him and his listeners with a thrilling new perspective on the songs of Dvorák. Apart from the obvious gypsy link, these folksongs are revealed by Langridge as inhabiting another corner of very much the same world. In the folksongs of Opp. 73 and 82 and the Op. 55 Gypsy Songs, Langridge and Johnson offer acutely moving glimpses into the half-fulfilled, half-frustrated hopes and fears within Dvorák’s own, tiny, Slavonic tableaux of haymaking, horseriding and the cycle of the year. Too bad that we are deprived of the original Czech texts among the plethora of translations. Hilary Finch