Janacek/Martinu

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Janacek/Martinu
LABELS: Carlton BBC Radio Classics
WORKS: Sinfonietta; Taras Bulba; The Ballad of Blaník; Double Concerto
PERFORMER: Harold Lester (piano); BBC SO/Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, Charles Mackerras
CATALOGUE NO: 15656 91352 ADD
Rozhdestvensky’s conducting of Janácek’s Sinfonietta and Taras Bulba is enormously exciting. His sense of pace, drama and sheer enthusiasm communicate at every stage in these concert performances. The orchestral players, especially the brass, respond with a marvellously vivid treatment of Janácek’s torrential sonorities.

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The down side is the occasional orchestral splash (even heavily edited studio performances of the Sinfonietta are not immune from this sort of thing), audience coughs and moments of slightly less than crystal clear articulation. But the purpose of this series is to give a feel of the live performance and there is so much to enjoy in Rozhdestvensky’s Janácek that no one will be disappointed unless they are profoundly allergic to the presence of an audience.

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Mackerras’s reading of The Ballad of Blaník is rather less persuasive, but his performance of Martinu’s Double Concerto is one of the best available; both tense and expressive, he provides a magnificently rounded image of a work which can sound mechanical in the wrong hands. In general the sound captured is very acceptable, despite a certain boxiness in the Martinu and some less than forward lower string sound in the Rozhdestvensky performances. Jan Smaczny