Janacek: Glagolitic Mass; Sinfonietta

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Janacek
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Glagolitic Mass; Sinfonietta
PERFORMER: Natalia Troitskaya (soprano), Eva Randová (mezzo-soprano), Kaludi Kaludov (ten), Sergei Leiferkus (bass)Montreal SO & Chorus/Charles Dutoit
CATALOGUE NO: 436 211-2 DDD
Despite its growing popularity, the Glagolitic Mass is not a work to be taken on lightly. If the choir falls below par no amount of insight on the part of the conductor or heroism among the soloists will save a performance. Sadly, in this recording, Charles Dutoit is badly let down by his choir, which lacks incisiveness in the Gloria and imparts little sense of desperation in the pleas of the Christe. The pitching of the sopranos in the Agnus Dei is shaky and there is generally little substance to the choral sound, easily obliterated by the brass-led tutti.

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This is a pity since there are good things about this issue, not least the superb recorded sound. Thomas Trotter gives perhaps the best account of the organ solos on disc and Kaludi Kaludov brings an attractive and unusual lyricism to the tenor part. Dutoit’s inclination towards stateliness, notably in the Introduction to the Mass, can seem lethargic and robs the fourth movement of the Sinfonietta of much of its impact. For the most part, the Montreal orchestra performs superbly with some particularly memorable woodwind playing, but in the end the sum of these parts makes a disappointing whole. Jan Smaczny