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Janacek Glagolitic Mass & Sinfonietta
Christiane Libor (soprano); Ewa Marciniec (alto); Timothy Bentch (tenor); Wojciech Gierlach (bass); Jaroslaw Malanowicz (organ) Warsaw Philharmonic Choir & Philharmonic Orchestra/Antoni Wit
Philharmonic Hall, Warsaw, Poland, 2009/2010

NAXOS 8.572639

These Polish studio recordings are relatively "comfortable" - which I don't mean pejoratively - accounts of works which in other hands, or heard live, can scarify. I guess the engineers in Warsaw's Philharmonic Hall did not use the forest of microphones usual for recording nowadays.

I loved them, finding that, with the volume turned up high on my newish Panasonic Home Cinema set-up there was no pain such as I recall well suffering in live performances from the 10 trumpets. Impossible to be sure what the elderly composer himself wanted?

One of the fullest comparative reviews (being mainly single handed I can't go in for that) is in Music Web.

It begins "It is a measure of the quality of the recordings now being routinely released by Naxos that technical and performing excellence can be taken for granted. That is certainly the case here. Antoni Wit and his Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra can be counted on to produce discs of considerable technical skill and musical depth with the Philharmonic Hall Warsaw proving to be a generous and sympathetic recording venue to boot. The coupling of Janáček’s two most famous non-operatic late works has come into its own since the advent of CD with more than half a dozen new recordings or re-couplings currently available. At around forty minutes the Glagolitic Mass made for a not very generous LP on its own with the Sinfonietta occupying a single side. Here they are combined to make a programme that feels more substantial than its hour running time would suggest. - - I have listened to this in the standard CD format. The engineering is essentially very good. Engineer/Producer Andrzej Sasin handles the complex textures of large orchestra, solo organ, four soloists and choir very well. The whole ensemble is well integrated with soloists in the foreground perhaps a tad too ‘large’. The orchestral balance is superb – some low woodwind detail registering particularly well. - - So far so good and indeed no-one encountering these sensational works for the first time here at the Naxos price advantage would be disappointed. - - "

For me that's fine & I propose to leave it there. But if you like to be assaulted in your living room so as to drive out others in the family there are many others. Nick Barnard comes down with our beloved Mackerras as the front runner; there are several of his to choose amongst.

I shall return to this disc; some of the others I might not want to. Comments from readers will be welcomed.

Peter Grahame Woolf