Janacek Opera Suites

Review by: David Hurwitz

Artistic Quality: 8

Sound Quality: 7

Back in the days when Supraphon CDs were carried in this country as co-productions with Denon, there was a terrific disc featuring the Czech Philharmonic conducted by František Jílek. Its program included the Vixen and House of the Dead suites (a different, more representative Vixen suite from the one on offer here), along with a marvelous suite from the opera Fate. This Prague Symphony/Jiri Belohlavek disc has the traditional Vixen selections (consisting essentially of the entire first act without the vocal parts), and offers the world premiere recording of a generous orchestral selection of items from Janacek’s comic opera The Excursions of Mr. Broucek. Although still virtually unknown, the opera is a masterpiece, and the music is just drop-dead gorgeous. For this item alone, Janacek fans will have to buy this disc. The other selections are well done too. Bélohlávek is a gentle conductor, and his performances have more affection than bite; but he’s inside the style and knows how to peg a climax. Supraphon’s recorded balance is a bit strange, with some undue spotlighting of the percussion section (and not enough clarity in timpani and basses), but never so seriously off as to preclude a recommendation, especially given the value of the repertoire. Now how about reissuing that Jílek recording?

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: None

LEOŠ JANÁCEK - Opera Suites: "The Cunning Little Vixen;" "From the House of the Dead;" "The Excursions of Mr. Broucek"

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