Janácek, Kodály

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COMPOSERS: Janacek,Kodaly
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Mass in E flat
PERFORMER: Westminster Cathedral Choir/James O’Donnell; Andrew Reid (organ)


The real curiosity in James O’Donnell’s last recording with Westminster Cathedral Choir is a reconstruction of Janácek’s unfinished E flat major Mass of 1908, edited and expanded by Paul Wingfield. Although Janácek used the two-and-a-half movements he had completed in the first version of the famous Glagolitic Mass 19 years later, little survived in the final form of the work. The sharp-eared will pick up resemblances between the two works in the ‘Et iterum’ of the Credo and also in the Sanctus which Wingfield has based on a first draft of the Glagolitic Mass. Beyond this, the most perceptible link between the two works is the urgency Janácek brings to his setting of the words. The work has already been recorded, in a very respectable performance by the choir of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, but this new version trumps it; the intensity and focus of the treble voices, for which this choir is famed, brings a luminosity to Janácek’s angular lines that compels attention. In addition to the Janácek there is a radiant performance of the organ version of Kodály’s delightful Missa brevis and an only marginally less successful performance of his last work, Laudes organi.


Jan Smaczny