Author Topic: A New and Excellent Janácek 'Glagolitic Mass', Recorded Live with Czech Singers  (Read 7025 times)

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Offline Scott

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Kurt Masur leading the London Philharmonic, recorded live at a Proms in 2004. It also includes a mainstream Schubert 'Unfinished' Symphony.

My fairly long review is here: http://tinyurl.com/3cfsoc
Without music, life would be a mistake. -- Nietzsche

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Kurt Masur leading the London Philharmonic, recorded live at a Proms in 2004. It also includes a mainstream Schubert 'Unfinished' Symphony.

I remember that concert. It was electrifying. (Good review, btw.)
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline knight66

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Scot, Thanks, what you have done has prompted me to get the Rattle version off my shelf and I will shortly give it a spin. I have never cracked this piece; I think concentrated, repeated listing is what is needed.

Mike

« Last Edit: September 18, 2007, 01:22:27 PM by knight »
DavidW: Yeah Mike doesn't get angry, he gets even.
I wasted time: and time wasted me.

lukeottevanger

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Is this the Wingfield edition (i.e. what Janacek originally wrote) or the more-widely-known-until-recently simplified version (simplified for the premiere and never restored)? I'd like another version of the Wingfield edition than the Danish recording, which is fine but could and really should be better - the work is even more electrifying and tumultuous as first composed. I wish Ancerl had been around to record the work in its original form!

Offline Scott

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Is this the Wingfield edition (i.e. what Janacek originally wrote) or the more-widely-known-until-recently simplified version (simplified for the premiere and never restored)? I'd like another version of the Wingfield edition than the Danish recording, which is fine but could and really should be better - the work is even more electrifying and tumultuous as first composed. I wish Ancerl had been around to record the work in its original form!

To be honest, I don't know, but I think it's the same version as earlier recordings. There is no mention of the Wingfield in the booklet notes. I've not heard the Danish recording (or in fact any other recording other than Ancerl, as I make clear in my review). And I don't know what the differences are between the 'simplified version' and the Wingfield. Could you enlighten us?
Without music, life would be a mistake. -- Nietzsche

Hector

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So was I.

Enervating in that it just refuses to take off.

Avoid.

lukeottevanger

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To be honest, I don't know, but I think it's the same version as earlier recordings. There is no mention of the Wingfield in the booklet notes. I've not heard the Danish recording (or in fact any other recording other than Ancerl, as I make clear in my review). And I don't know what the differences are between the 'simplified version' and the Wingfield. Could you enlighten us?

I'll give you the full list when I get home and have Wingfield's book to consult, but among the more spectacular:

the last orchestra-only movement also played at the beginning

the opening fanfare: brass as we know and love, but strings/winds in septuplets/quintuplets - makes for a dramatically different effect

the Gospodi in 5/4

dramatic, seering atonal timp/string/organ/clarinet interpolations in the Credo - the main new music in the edition, rather than re-metred music

I may have the details wrong, as I say - it's a while since I thought about this. So I might have to edit this post later!

karlhenning

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Bring it on, Luke:)

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Read this article, folks. The Masur version, alas, is the 'watered-down' one...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2004/07/29/bmprom29a.xml

Cheers!

Johan
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline Scott

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Gosh, Jezetha, thanks for that link. It not only confirms which version of the Glagolitic Mass was played but also agrees with my ears' response to the performance.
Without music, life would be a mistake. -- Nietzsche

Offline Scott

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Re: A New and Excellent Janácek 'Glagolitic Mass', Recorded Live with Czech Sing
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2007, 08:06:05 AM »
I'll give you the full list when I get home and have Wingfield's book to consult, but among the more spectacular:

the last orchestra-only movement also played at the beginning

the opening fanfare: brass as we know and love, but strings/winds in septuplets/quintuplets - makes for a dramatically different effect

the Gospodi in 5/4

dramatic, seering atonal timp/string/organ/clarinet interpolations in the Credo - the main new music in the edition, rather than re-metred music

I may have the details wrong, as I say - it's a while since I thought about this. So I might have to edit this post later!


My god, the things you learn here. And to think we were deprived of this version. I may now have to get the Danish recording just to hear this. It sounds wild and wonderful from your description.
Without music, life would be a mistake. -- Nietzsche

Offline not edward

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Re: A New and Excellent Janácek 'Glagolitic Mass', Recorded Live with Czech Sing
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2007, 08:12:22 AM »
Luke makes it sound like the original version would be even more perfect for CzPO/Ancerl than the watered-down one. Anyone got a time machine?
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
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lukeottevanger

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Don't get me wrong, the usually-heard version will more than do - and given a choice I'd rather hear it played with Ancerl-like fire than the original played less glowingly.* But all other things being equal, the original version is surely the one that ought to be performed as a matter of course. It isn't a matter of 'Fassung letzter Hand', either - Janacek expressly only changed his score during rehearsals, and for the particular situations the orchestra was finding hard; the intention was never for these revisions to supercede his original thoughts.

Most of the piece, I should emphasize, stays pretty much unaltered. And putting the last movement first as well as at the end, whilst a major change, is something your CD programmer can manage fairly easily. It is the original rhythmic thoughts and the dramatic offstage interpolations in the Credo which are really interesting. (I'm still out at work, so I still can't check the details)

*not only have I got the Danish recording, I also heard the Cambridge University orchestra perform the Wingfield edition in Kings' College Chapel in 1995 or 6 (my wife was in the cello section). Come to think of it, I think David Goode - who was previously Organ Scholar at Kings' - played the Poulenc Organ Concerto in the same concert, if my memory serves me correctly. He must therefore be more than aware of the Wingfield edition, and as he is the organist on this Masur Glagolitic that you mention, there is even less excuse for not performing the Wingfield. Wingfield is or was at Trinity College at the time of this concert, which may explain why his edition was performed. To tell the truth, he was less than helpful to me personally around that time, and I don't harbour positive feelings towards him, but objectively speaking, his edition is a great thing for Janacek scholarship, and, as I say, there is absolutely no good reason why the later version should be performed now, professional orchestra and suitable venue permitting, as here.

Larry Rinkel

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Don't get me wrong, the usually-heard version will more than do - and given a choice I'd rather hear it played with Ancerl-like fire than the original played less glowingly.* But all other things being equal, the original version is surely the one that ought to be performed as a matter of course. It isn't a matter of 'Fassung letzter Hand', either - Janacek expressly only changed his score during rehearsals, and for the particular situations the orchestra was finding hard; the intention was never for these revisions to supercede his original thoughts.

Most of the piece, I should emphasize, stays pretty much unaltered. And putting the last movement first as well as at the end, whilst a major change, is something your CD programmer can manage fairly easily. It is the original rhythmic thoughts and the dramatic offstage interpolations in the Credo which are really interesting. (I'm still out at work, so I still can't check the details)

*not only have I got the Danish recording,

Which Danish recording? Sung in Danish?

lukeottevanger

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Re: A New and Excellent Janácek 'Glagolitic Mass', Recorded Live with Czech Sing
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2007, 10:13:34 PM »
This one - perfectly respectable, and obviously a conductor with the finest credentials. Sung in Czech, of course - what would be the point of being the first recording to perform the piece in its original conception....but in the wrong language!

Whilst finding the image at Amazon, I found their review, so here it is FWIW:

Quote
Like the requiems of Berlioz and Verdi, Janácek's Glagolitic Mass (1926) is a decidedly non-conformist sacred work, written from the heart. Set in Old Slavonic, its as much an expression of aspiration for the Czech people as Smetana's Ma Vlast had been half a century before. Mackerras has long been the leading exponent of Janácek; his second recording of the Mass is indispensable for restoring the work to its original state. You get the "Intrada" at the beginning as well as the end, but the most radical differences occur in the "Credo"'s central interlude where, in place of the expected organ cadenza, there's an orchestral passage of stunning originality and great rhythmic complexity--no wonder the orchestra gave up on this. Mackerras steers his capable Danish forces through this minefield with ease, and gets the right degree of fervency from his soloists and chorus elsewhere. Kodály's Psalmus Hungaricus makes a generous, lower key coupling, resplendent in full-bodied sound. This is a required purchase to hear the Glagolitic at its radical best. --Richard Whitehouse

lukeottevanger

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Re: A New and Excellent Janácek 'Glagolitic Mass', Recorded Live with Czech Sing
« Reply #15 on: September 20, 2007, 04:23:30 AM »
I’ve now gone through Wingfield’s book again - description below - and am reminded of quite how major the alterations are, and how much of a difference they make, structurally speaking. I’m not sure how a performance not using the Wingfield edition can be justified now, and, for all the virtues of Ancerl etc., I can’t hear the piece in the same way knowing what has been cut. The excisions in the Credo (Veruju) are so major, cutting away one of the most extraordinary passages Janacek ever wrote and pulling away the centre of the Mass as a whole, that not to perform it seems perverse.

BTW, we had a discussion on the Wingfield edition on the old GMG, lost somewhere in the middle of the ‘What are you listening to’ thread. I’ve culled a one of my posts, to clarify the background to the changes:

Quote from: luke
Wingfield's CUP book on the Glagolitic gives full details on the issue, and it's not in dispute at all, but it's rather complex to give all the details here. Essentially, as the rehearsals for the 1927 premiere progressed Janacek overwrote his manuscript with several layers of modification in red and black ink, which apparently make the manuscript the most complicated to read that survives of Janacek's. These emendations were copied into other scores at the time too. Particularly during the orchestral rehearsals in late Nov and early Dec 1927, Janacek was forced to drop or seriously rewrite some of his original thoughts. The premiere was a success, and so the changes stuck. But the major structural changes were only made for expediency's sake, and it has always been  possible to reconstruct Janacek's original conception. It's just that no one did until Wingfield.


Anyway, here goes for the lowdown. There are some minor changes - doublings of lines etc. The major changes are:

The ordering of the movements in all published editions pre-Wingfield is wrong, and is not in fact that used in the two performances in Janacek’s lifetime. The Intrada, as its name suggests, should be played first a well as last; the commonly-known version only has it last. Wingfield is unable to give precise reasons for this, though it is 100% that the Intrada should be played at both ends. He speculates about a confusion in the making of the vocal score, though notes that the man who prepared this score (Kundera) himself talked about the Mass having 9 movements, not the 8 which are in the score he made.

The Uvod (in the commonly-known version this is the first, orchestral movement, built around the fanfare figure (possibly derived from Smetana’s Libuse, FWIW) is more rhythmically complex in the original. Instead of all lines being subsumed into simple ¾ times, the seven-note ostinato figure which the strings begin is equalised into a septuplet; the motive in the wind above it is likewise turned into a straight quintuplet. The reasons for the alteration at the first performance are obvious - as Wingfield says, 'cacophony would indeed have resulted in 1927 from a provincial orchestra weaned on Dvorak attempting to maintain a three-against-five-against seven metrical conflict for seventy-seven bars.'

The Gospodi was originally in 5/4, which affects the character of the main motive considerably. The rapid descending triplets which come soon after the beginning of the movement are thus less ‘balanced’ and more disconcertingly wayward in the original, where they are made up of six standard duplets and six triplets. Wingfield finds the latter change understandable, but is surprised that the opening, slower bars were found hard in 1927. Nevertheless, he says, there is documentary proof, in the scribblings of players and singers in their parts, that they really found this quintuple metre confusing.

The Veruju (Credo) has the most substantial changes. The prominent clarinet parts in the Veruju (Credo) are supposed to be offstage, but this instruction is suppressed in all editions pre-Wingfield. Wingfield suggest that this is because it is impractical - the clarinettists, if only one set are used, have only one bar to make their exit (though they aren't prominent in the immediately preceding music, and could presumably be omitted if necessary) and nine in which to return. So, Janacek modified his 'offstage' instruction to ’offstage, if possible’ - the editor at UE seems to have taken this as reason enough to excise the instruction. This is a particular pity as the offstage instruments, which begin the orchestral commentary on the crucifixion, are a particularly magical effect. The most noticable of all the changes , however, occurs in the’ Raspet’ section, which entailed major changes to the score and orchestral parts at the first performance, subsequently made part of the published score. The organ solo starting at b 210 is now itself subject to interjections from three sets of timpani (and a side drum), playing a violent and rhythmical motive of various rolled chords in and around (respectively) D flat major, D major, B minor, E minor and A flat minor. The basic substance of this timpani motive can still be seen in the final bars of this section, after the organ solo and the choral outburst, but isolated like this it makes comparatively little sense. Wingfield suggests that this change is above all due to technical difficulties in retuning the ‘saw-tooth’ clutch-tuned drums available in Brno at the time’. Also the passage requires at least seven drums (nine would be ideal) and the rest of the Mass only requires three. Finally, this passages need four players, the rest of the Mass only three. It is possible that Janacek got the idea in part from Nielsen (he had a score of the 4th symphony from Max Brod, about which he seems ambivalent - ‘I will not critices the work, because one finds in every piece something on which to build’), so the premiere performance of the Wingfield edition by a Danish orchestra seems a little more justified! But actually, as a passage which requires frequent and fast retuning of a large number of timpani, this passages is innovatory, and a minor side effect of cutting it is that Janacek is denied the credit for some very advanced orchestral writing. More importantly, cutting this passage causes huge structural problems of various sorts. Above all, this section is the dramatic peak of the whole work - Janacek said of the passage before it was altered ‘I am representing the heavens being torn apart when Christ was crucified on the cross…I depict thunder and flashes of lightning‘ - and cutting it unbalances things badly. Indeed, the liner notes for the CD describe this section as the most apocalyptic music Janacek ever wrote, and I think this is true.

One thing I don’t understand at all - the Wingfield book seems not to mention it, but there is also a dramatic phrase for violins running through this this passage, each time the timp outburst occurs - a wild and practically atonal line, like the most expressively chromatic Bruckner/Berg/Mahler melodic line, at once unlike Janacek and more typical of him in its concentrated eloquence and overwhelming dramatic integrity than almost anything else. I have no idea where this comes from and why Wingfield doesn’t mention it in his book (perhaps I should do a little search on it), but it certainly sounds overwhelming.

The ‘Svet’ has fourteen extra bars from b 183, developing and repeating phrases already heard. These were cut due to tessitura difficulties, but the cut ‘removes the tonal turning-point of the movement‘ (Wingfield).
« Last Edit: September 20, 2007, 04:30:08 AM by lukeottevanger »

Larry Rinkel

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Re: A New and Excellent Janácek 'Glagolitic Mass', Recorded Live with Czech Sing
« Reply #16 on: September 20, 2007, 04:42:50 AM »
This one - perfectly respectable, and obviously a conductor with the finest credentials. Sung in Czech, of course - what would be the point of being the first recording to perform the piece in its original conception....but in the wrong language!

I guess I have to use smileys more often ....  0:)

Is a score available to Wingfield? My old UE score is of the commonly used text.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2007, 05:05:43 AM by Larry Rinkel »

karlhenning

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Re: A New and Excellent Janácek 'Glagolitic Mass', Recorded Live with Czech Sing
« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2007, 04:52:25 AM »
I’ve now gone through Wingfield’s book again - description below - and am reminded of quite how major the alterations are, and how much of a difference they make, structurally speaking. I’m not sure how a performance not using the Wingfield edition can be justified now, and, for all the virtues of Ancerl etc., I can’t hear the piece in the same way knowing what has been cut.

But, but, Luke!  Wait another couple of weeks, and you may forget (again?) what all has been cut!  ;D :)

Offline Scott

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Re: A New and Excellent Janácek 'Glagolitic Mass', Recorded Live with Czech Sing
« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2007, 07:42:35 AM »
I’ve now gone through Wingfield’s book again - description below - and am reminded of quite how major the alterations are ... [long passage deleted]

This is extraordinary, and makes me all the more eager to hear the original. Thanks for taking the time to share this with us, Luke.
Without music, life would be a mistake. -- Nietzsche

lukeottevanger

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Re: A New and Excellent Janácek 'Glagolitic Mass', Recorded Live with Czech Sing
« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2007, 09:02:36 AM »
But, but, Luke!  Wait another couple of weeks, and you may forget (again?) what all has been cut!  ;D :)

Not so much that I'd forgotten the differences (see my first post above) but I certainly had forgotten the major formal impact the interpolations in the Veruju have.  :-[

I listened again this afternoon, astonished...
« Last Edit: September 20, 2007, 09:05:28 AM by lukeottevanger »