Author Topic: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)  (Read 68489 times)

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karlhenning

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Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« on: June 12, 2007, 03:21:16 AM »
This post made it clear that this thread has been wanted for a long time:


Luke, I hear Boulez is going to conduct this sometime soon. What is your reason for putting it at the top of the Janacek heap?

It is the most advanced example of the 'integrative' aesthetic that he applied to all his music, but especially from about 1917 onwards. In other words, it is a stark, spare, stripped-down piece where every note speaks volumes. That was always Janacek's ideal; he achieves it more than any other composer I know - but From the House of the Dead goes furthest in that direction, and is also a very brave human document.

Janacek's 'Violin Concerto' - left in a sketched state and later reconstructed - is closely linked to this opera thematically. For that reason - bizarrely, as it isn't a true 100% Janacek work - I think it is among the most essential pieces of orchestral music in his output. An incredibly beautiful piece, too.

Offline BachQ

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2007, 03:25:05 AM »
How about a bio?

Photos?

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2007, 03:30:50 AM »
On the subject of his operas (well, they were mentioned in the quote, anyway :P), can anyone recommend any DVDs? Well, with a composer like Janacek I suppose you must take what you can find, so perhaps recommend any to avoid...

I recently ordered this one, which is on back-order atm:



Scary as hell cover, btw :-\
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lukeottevanger

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2007, 03:47:36 AM »
Whenever a new Janacek thread starts up - when the board moves somewhere new, or the old thread gets lost 40 pages pack - I start to worry! Only because I find it hard to re-articulate why he is such an important figure for me. I don't claim any 'greatest ever' status for him; I simply find him to be the musician who affects me the deepest. I have my reasons, but I've stated them so often on this board and previous incarnations over the years, I find it hard to do it in a new way.

So, for now, here's what I wrote the last time a thread on Janacek was started, on the previous GMG. It dates from March this year

Quote from: Luke
I haven’t posted on this thread until now, and, as the forum’s self-appointed Janacek geek/obsessive, this may seem peculiar. The simple fact is I haven’t been able to until now as I have been away this weekend.

The fact is, I was attending the funeral of my much-loved grandmother, and I mention this simply because her history, and her family, are among other things an important part of my closeness to Janacek. She was Czech, and her family was rooted in artistic and intellectual circles (Franz Werfel, Hanna Fuchs-Robettin of the Lyric Suite fame, VPO lead cellist Friedrich Buxbaum….). Amongst these was the uncle of her husband (my grandfather), the writer (and sometime composer) Max Brod, [in]famous as an all-important friend of Kafka’s, and only slightly less so for his pivotal  impact on Janacek’s career. Through Max Brod, my grandfather met Janacek on one single occasion - my grandfather must can only have been in his teens. Knowledge of this meeting always makes me shiver.

So, yes, there are family roots to time and place and even to Janacek personally; his musical style speaks directly to my heart; there is no other composer whose every note seems to me to be so right and so potent - but my adoration of Janacek is deeper rooted than that. When I was at university I wrote my final year’s dissertation tracing the course of Janacek’s aesthetic stances throughout his life, as revealed in his letters, his theoretical writings and of course his music. This course can be summed up in one or two words: Integration, and Truth. The latter was of prime importance to Janacek - truth to the characters of his operas, psychological truth and musical truth. He believed, IMO rightly, that all this could only follow from absolutely scrupulous truth to himself, and his music is marked by an ever greater Integration (his word, but an appropriate one) by means of which he strips his music of all inessentials and non sequiturs until all that is left, every note, absolutely drips with ‘truth’ (as he said of Wozzeck - ‘every note drips with blood’). No other composer I know of pursued this course with the zeal Janacek did - he was quite to happy to accept certain sorts of ‘imperfection’, even to welcome them, in the pursuit of the goal of directness and honesty.  As a composer of sorts myself, his example is the greatest possible inspiration to me, and I have been striving to follow it, in my own way, these last few years. Any success I have had in my pieces I attribute solely to the soul-searching this has entailed, and I suppose, indirectly at least, to the unique way in which Janacek made a virtue of what are traditionally seen as musical vices, by realising the deeper musical truths that lay beneath them. In brief, he discovered that if one means every note of what one says, understanding the implications from every angle, one can turn the worn-out ruts of musical habit and inclination into routes straight to the heart.

Naturally, I love almost all his works, but FWIW the ones which I revere above all others are:

Operas: the big five (Broucek, Makropulos, Katya, Vixen and House of the Dead, especially the last three)

intimate Letters Quartet

Diary of One Who Disappeared  (these last two pieces are top of the list, in fact)

In the Mists

Bezruc Choruses

The Fiddler’s Child

Choo Choo

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2007, 03:52:16 AM »
Anyone within reach of Covent Garden and interested in Katya Kabanova should know that (as predicted by someone ;)) the ROH is now offering seats for the current production at cut-price, with Orchestra Stalls (normally £130) going for £65.

karlhenning

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2007, 03:55:06 AM »
I am grateful for your post, Luke, whatever your own reservations.  It reminds me (what I probably have not quite lost sight of completely) that the only Janáček works I know, are not even on your most revered works list, and I ought to do something about it.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2007, 04:09:01 AM by karlhenning »

Offline not edward

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2007, 04:05:57 AM »
Bezruc Choruses

The Fiddler’s Child
Recording recommendations for these two, please?

I don't have the kind of personal connection to Janacek that Luke does, but he's long been a favourite for much the same reasons--his approach to composition seems to be an intensely personal 'warts and all' one: I adore works like the Concertino and Capriccio where abrasive, unsympathetic material manages to pull itself into a coherent, defiant whole.

Every note of his later works (from about the On the Overgrown Path and on) seems to me to resonate with something personal and human, and his unconventional structures seem perfectly built to do this without needless sentimentality.
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lukeottevanger

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2007, 04:20:18 AM »
Recording recommendations for these two, please?

As far as I know, the Bezruc choruses have only one recording, on Supraphon. It's pretty definitive; among other things the CD also includes the wild Tagore setting, The Wandering Madman (how bizarre and wonderful to think that these too [unforgivable typo for 'two' - but true, so stet. ;D] great men met!)

The Fiddler's Child has had more recordings - I only have one, another Supraphon disc (Jilek/Brno State SO) - again, Janacek's local orchestra breathes authenticity.

I should point out that my list was cut very short - works like the First String Quartet, the Violin Sonata, the Piano Sonata, On an Overgrown Path, Mladi, Concertino, Capriccio, Riklada, Pohadka, Osud, and, of course, the Glagolitic Mass and Jenufa all thoroughly deserve their place on it too. Even miniatures like Na Solani Cartak are, in their way, unmissable, perfect works. The only major Janacek piece that has never totally grabbed is The Eternal Gospel - but I'm not sure why, as it's pure Janacek from start to finish. I get the feeling - totally unsubstantiated - that he didn't feel quite such a personal stake in that one.

I don't have the kind of personal connection to Janacek that Luke does, but he's long been a favourite for much the same reasons--his approach to composition seems to be an intensely personal 'warts and all' one: I adore works like the Concertino and Capriccio where abrasive, unsympathetic material manages to pull itself into a coherent, defiant whole.

Every note of his later works (from about the On the Overgrown Path and on) seems to me to resonate with something personal and human, and his unconventional structures seem perfectly built to do this without needless sentimentality.

Very nice description.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2007, 04:23:12 AM by lukeottevanger »

Offline Brewski

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2007, 07:03:10 AM »
Just found this nice write-up with photos by Anne Ozorio, of From the House of the Dead with Boulez.  Really makes me wish I could hear this... :'(

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Wendell_E

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2007, 07:28:41 AM »
Just found this nice write-up with photos by Anne Ozorio, of From the House of the Dead with Boulez.  Really makes me wish I could hear this... :'(

--Bruce

Well, that production will be coming to the Met in 2009-10, but with Salonen in the pit.

I've got the Glyndebourne DVDs of Makropoulos and Jenufa, and the Théâtre du Chatelet Cunning Little Vixen and they're among my favorites.

Offline Todd

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2007, 07:36:35 AM »
and I ought to do something about it.


Yes, yes you should.

I must slightly disagree with Luke: Jenufa is generally considered one of the big five rather Broucek.  (Of course I could be mistaken.)  But then, I must confess that I've not heard Broucek yet, so clearly I need to rectify that. 

The mere idea of Boulez conducting From the House of the Dead gets my blood racing.  As chance would have it, I relistened to Mackerras' recording this past weekend and was reminded anew of how powerful and spare the piece is.  Boulez may make it even better.  May this make it to DVD soon!  The Salonen, too!
« Last Edit: June 12, 2007, 08:59:32 AM by Todd »
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Offline Guido

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2007, 08:08:30 AM »
I only know Pohadka which took me a long time to like - I don't know why as it's absolutely gorgeous. It has as much colour as the Debussy Sonata, the same incredible abundance of beautiful little ideas and that same punchy compactness that makes the Debussy sonata such a unique little masterpiece. I recently heard the violin concerto on the radio which is an astonishing piece - as Luke says not 'original', but essential! Tomorrow I will be rid of exams and I will be free to explore!
« Last Edit: June 12, 2007, 10:27:37 AM by Guido »
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karlhenning

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2007, 09:29:27 AM »
. . . tomorrow I will be rid of exams and I will be free to explore!

Good luck, Guido!

lukeottevanger

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2007, 10:47:19 AM »
I must slightly disagree with Luke: Jenufa is generally considered one of the big five rather Broucek.  (Of course I could be mistaken.)  But then, I must confess that I've not heard Broucek yet, so clearly I need to rectify that. 

Yes, I had something of a clash with TC over this issue on another thread; it's not that I don't adore Jenufa - I just think that, neatly enough, the last five each exemplify a particular facet of Janacek's thinking. The echt-Czech, comic side of his personality as expressed in Broucek is as important as the almost verismo-dramatist of rural tragedy that we see in Jenufa, and that we also see in Katya, an even finer work, I think. So, for my essential listing, for someone wanting to discover Janacek's different sides quickly, those last five have it all, IMO.

Offline Todd

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2007, 11:52:47 AM »
...and that we also see in Katya, an even finer work, I think.


Can't disagree with that.
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Offline Novi

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #15 on: July 22, 2007, 05:13:36 AM »


I've had this on my shelf for a while now and am pretty keen to get right in. Unfortunately, this budget set doesn't come with libretti, but I figured it would be a good way to get started with Janáček. I'm trying to find a copy, whether on line or hard copy, but I seem to be out of luck. Does anyone know if they're available anywhere? Cheers.

Incidentally, I'm listening to The Cunning Little Vixen - what a wicked piece. It's quite trippy the way the music evokes moods and characters.

I feel I'm not doing justice to it without the libretto though, although the music does a great job 'telling the story' :).
Durch alle Töne tönet
Im bunten Erdentraum
Ein leiser Ton gezogen
Für den der heimlich lauschet.

Drasko

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #16 on: July 23, 2007, 06:33:05 AM »


I've had this on my shelf for a while now and am pretty keen to get right in. Unfortunately, this budget set doesn't come with libretti, but I figured it would be a good way to get started with Janáček. I'm trying to find a copy, whether on line or hard copy, but I seem to be out of luck. Does anyone know if they're available anywhere? Cheers.

I thought of buying that set but backed out exactly because of the lack of libretti, it seems that libretti for 20 century operas are very rare online (some copyright thing I think).

Here is Jenufa (without translation)
http://www.karadar.com/Librettos/janacek_jenufa.html

Good luck with the rest.

Offline Novi

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #17 on: July 23, 2007, 06:58:42 AM »
I thought of buying that set but backed out exactly because of the lack of libretti, it seems that libretti for 20 century operas are very rare online (some copyright thing I think).

Here is Jenufa (without translation)
http://www.karadar.com/Librettos/janacek_jenufa.html

Good luck with the rest.

Bummer :'(.

The only one I can find is the libretto for Vixen with full translation and pronunciation (handy!) for 30 quid on amazon. I'm thinking now that it might've been a good idea to get them separately. The budget box probably won't be too 'budget' now :-\.

Thanks for Jenufa anyway. I wonder what babelfish will make of it ...
Durch alle Töne tönet
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Ein leiser Ton gezogen
Für den der heimlich lauschet.

Offline Wendell_E

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #18 on: July 23, 2007, 09:33:15 AM »
How good's your French?  The French site http://odb-opera.com/ has French-only libretti for Jenufa, Kat'a Kabanova, From the House of the Dead, and The Cunning Little Vixen.  You do have to register to get to the librettos, but it's free.

I bought the Mackerras recordings in both their LP and CD versions.  I gave away a lot of my LP duplicates to our Public Radio station for a used record sale, but I can check and see if I still have any of those LP librettos, if you're interested.
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Offline Novi

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #19 on: July 23, 2007, 10:04:01 AM »
How good's your French?  The French site http://odb-opera.com/ has French-only libretti for Jenufa, Kat'a Kabanova, From the House of the Dead, and The Cunning Little Vixen.  You do have to register to get to the librettos, but it's free.

Better than my Czech ;D. Thanks, I'll have a look.

I bought the Mackerras recordings in both their LP and CD versions.  I gave away a lot of my LP duplicates to our Public Radio station for a used record sale, but I can check and see if I still have any of those LP librettos, if you're interested.

Oh wow, that would be so cool!
Durch alle Töne tönet
Im bunten Erdentraum
Ein leiser Ton gezogen
Für den der heimlich lauschet.