Janacek: Choral Works; Six Moravian Choruses (after Dvorak)
Daniel Reuss, director
Radio Blazers Ensemble
It's no secret that Czech composer Leos Janacek used the folk traditions
of Bohemia and Moravia for the basis of his own musical language. In
his most advanced works (like his string quartets), those folk
traditions are heard but faintly in the background. As this new
collection shows, the folk music of Janacek's native land was front and
center in his choral compositions.
The Cappella Amsterdam
and their director Daniel Reuss may not be Czech, but they perform these
works with conviction and convincing authenticity. The most musically
complex are the stand-alone pieces. Some, like The Wild duck and the
Wolf's Trail our straight-forward settings of folks songs. Others, such
as the Ave Maria, Our Father, and the heart-breaking Elegy on the Death
of My Daughter Olga use folk material as part of a deeply personal
expression of piety and yearning.
Also included are two large collections. Nursery Rhymes are just that --
twelve children's songs. While not sounding entirely care-free in
Janacek's settings, they still retain a simple innocence that makes this
set particularly appealing.
The album leads off with Six Moravian Choruses. Janacek transcribed
these works from Dvorak's Moravian Duets, and results are wonderful.
These choruses combine the best elements of Czech folk song, Dvorak's
and Janacek's compositional styles.
If you enjoy the music of Dvorak, Smetana, or Janacek, then this album
will be a treat. If you just enjoy good choral singing, then give this a
listen -- the Capella Amsterdam will not disappoint.