ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
Leos Janácek - Orchestral Suites from the Operas


LEOS JANÁCEK - ORCHESTRAL SUITES FROM THE OPERAS, VOL. 2 - KÁT'A KABANOVÁ - THE MAKROPULOS AFFAIR - PETER BREINER (CONDUCTOR) - NEW ZEALAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA - Naxos 8.570556

The people at Naxos once again step up to the plate and take the road less travelled by recording and presenting to us music not even taken into consideration by other labels. This time around it is more in the way of orchestral suites from famous Leos Janácek operas, reduced and arranged by the conductor, Peter Breiner.

Leos Janacek stands as a unique voice in music. No other composers, even Czech ones, sound anything like Janacek. His unusual rhytmic patterns and odd harmonic intervals forged an identity all his own. If you are familiar with his famous work 'Sinfonietta' you will agree that his orchestral sound and stylistic approach are unique in music, and hence the fascination with this brilliant composer.

The two Suites on this new CD released in April of 2009, represent Janácek at his best, and could even be a clear first choice for anyone new to this composer. They are full of memorable character motifs from start to finish, and of course, display Janácek's unique style. For example, in Kát'a Kabanová, an opera with a plot along the same tragic lines as Madame Butterfly, an obsessive eight note motif on the tuned timpani keeps showing up throughout the Suite to great dramatic effect.

The recorded sound lacks a bit of transparency and detail, but that is a very small drawback considering the wealth of interesting new music this CD puts in our hands. A welcome addition for any music collector.

Jean-Yves Duperron