Janacek: The Cunning Little Vixen

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Janacek
LABELS: Supraphon
WORKS: The Cunning Little Vixen
PERFORMER: Helena Tattermuschová, Dalibor Jedlicka, Eva Zikmundová, Zdenek Kroupa, Jan Hlavsa, Rudolf Vonásek; Prague National Theatre Chorus & Orchestra/Bohumil Gregor
CATALOGUE NO: SU 3071-2 AAD Reissue
The process that turned a flimsy cartoon about a forest-wise vixen into a witty and profound study of life and the natural cycle is one of the marvels of Janácek’s old age. The Cunning Little Vixen is perhaps Janácek’s richest operatic score and its subtle shading needs expert handling; Gregor’s performance, admired since the early Seventies, is one of the most perceptive available. His interpretation has a spaciousness and flexibility which not even Mackerras matches in his excellent Decca version. There are times when Gregor might have pushed the score on a little more, notably in the opening ballet, and the wind could have been tuned more conscientiously from time to time, but as a whole this reading is superbly rounded.

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Tattermuschová’s Vixen is charming and she matures convincingly through the three acts. As the Forester, Zdenek Kroupa, more resonant than Jedlicka for Mackerras, manages to be both gruff and, in the final monologue, supremely moving. All the smaller parts are well characterised, but the real heroes are Gregor and the orchestra; each point is underlined with affection and the larger scenes have a breadth and eloquence which no one else has captured so effectively on record. Jan Smaczny