Author Topic: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)  (Read 70527 times)

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Offline Guido

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #60 on: January 03, 2010, 03:01:15 AM »
Thanks Luke. Interesting - hadn't thought of it like that. And you're right of course - there are no 'normal' operas in his output - the alchemical sci-fi, the timetraveler/moonlanding, the animal parable, the appropriately plotless prison scene etc. etc. Amazing!
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Offline UB

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #61 on: January 27, 2010, 03:43:58 AM »
From an article earlier this month in the NYT -

"Mr. Andsnes, now in a black sweater, introduced the first work, “In the Mists,” a four-movement suite by Janacek. Trying to explain why he has loved Janacek’s piano music since he was a teenager, Mr. Andsnes said that he was entranced by the “sweet and sour harmonies” and the “speaking qualities”: that is, the way the music “sounds like it is speaking words to you.” The audience listened raptly to this elusive, quirky music, with its hints of Slavic folk tunes."

So much of Janáček's music seems to speak to people which is why his music continues to be played and enjoyed today. BTW the recital took place in an Apple Store!
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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #62 on: July 20, 2010, 08:55:50 PM »
I don't know that many Czech composers, but Janacek is my favourite of the lot. I have a number of his works on cd, and have also heard many on radio. I look forward to seeing his 1st string quartet live later on in the year. That will be great.

Much of his music is connected to memory and displays his interest in the rhythms and intonations of the Czech language. Some of his works also commemorate national events, especially after the founding of an independent Czechoslovakia, after WW1. His friendship with Kamila also started during this time (roughly), and she inspired so many great works from him, and so late in life. His earlier works sound nowhere near as characteristic as these works.

My journey with Janacek started when I borrowed a cd of his 2 string quartets with the Lindsays from the local library. That was just over 10 years ago. More recently, I got (back) into collecting, I got the string quartets (played totally differently by the ABQ) and some of his orchestral works. I really like Taras Bulba with it's gory story, odd rhythms and wildly unexpected contrasts. It's difficult to categorise this work, is it a symphony, a concerto for orchestra or a symphonic poem? It doesn't matter, but his music is often like that, it defies convention. Another work that I hear often is Kubelik's classic interpretation of the Glagolitic Mass. It's truly epic and monumental, but doesn't lack intimacy and warmth. My knowledge of the solo piano repertoire is not comprehensive, but I really like Firkusny's interpretations of Janacek's remarkable piano works. Many of these works were written with Firkusny in mind, who was his pupil.

Sometime down the track I want to get into his operas. I've only heard Peter Breiner's suite arrangements on Naxos, which are pretty good, but I want to hear the "real" thing. Opera, however, is not my favourite genre, though I am slowly developing an interest in C20th works in the genre.

Offline Luke

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #63 on: July 20, 2010, 09:10:23 PM »
My knowledge of the solo piano repertoire is not comprehensive, but I really like Firkusny's interpretations of Janacek's remarkable piano works. Many of these works were written with Firkusny in mind, who was his pupil.

No, they weren't - Janacek's last and greatest major piano work, In the Mists, was written when Firkusny was 5, if I've remembered my dates correctly!  :)

[EDIT - I remembered them wrong, I was thinking of another piece - in fact, they were written before Firkusny had had his first birthday]
« Last Edit: July 20, 2010, 09:14:22 PM by Luke »

Offline Guido

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #64 on: July 21, 2010, 12:56:38 PM »
I don't know that many Czech composers, but Janacek is my favourite of the lot. I have a number of his works on cd, and have also heard many on radio. I look forward to seeing his 1st string quartet live later on in the year. That will be great.

Much of his music is connected to memory and displays his interest in the rhythms and intonations of the Czech language. Some of his works also commemorate national events, especially after the founding of an independent Czechoslovakia, after WW1. His friendship with Kamila also started during this time (roughly), and she inspired so many great works from him, and so late in life. His earlier works sound nowhere near as characteristic as these works.

My journey with Janacek started when I borrowed a cd of his 2 string quartets with the Lindsays from the local library. That was just over 10 years ago. More recently, I got (back) into collecting, I got the string quartets (played totally differently by the ABQ) and some of his orchestral works. I really like Taras Bulba with it's gory story, odd rhythms and wildly unexpected contrasts. It's difficult to categorise this work, is it a symphony, a concerto for orchestra or a symphonic poem? It doesn't matter, but his music is often like that, it defies convention. Another work that I hear often is Kubelik's classic interpretation of the Glagolitic Mass. It's truly epic and monumental, but doesn't lack intimacy and warmth. My knowledge of the solo piano repertoire is not comprehensive, but I really like Firkusny's interpretations of Janacek's remarkable piano works. Many of these works were written with Firkusny in mind, who was his pupil.

Sometime down the track I want to get into his operas. I've only heard Peter Breiner's suite arrangements on Naxos, which are pretty good, but I want to hear the "real" thing. Opera, however, is not my favourite genre, though I am slowly developing an interest in C20th works in the genre.

The operas are superlative and after Janacek are so unlike "normal" operas that you may well not have an issue with them. As Luke is always keen to say (because it's true), Janacek stripped ever more away and pared down his music ever more towards the end of his life, the works becoming stronger and ever more moving as a result - His last opera From the House of the Dead and the string quartet no.2 are his greatest works - really at the top end of achievement in western art. All the operas are great though - there's a really great Mackerras cycle which is inexpensive too - may be a good place to start.
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Offline Guido

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #65 on: September 13, 2010, 02:57:46 PM »
Just listened to Broucek again. Last time I heard it I was not that impressed, so I thought I'd better listen again.

I still think that the first part (excursion to the moon) is rather weak, despite passing glories, but the second part (excursion to the 15th century) makes far more sense, dramatically and musically, seems much more a whole. It's actually rather magnificent, so many wonderful passages, the orchestration and harmonies often surprising and inventive and always just right. And there's pages of real beauty and lushness throughout... I'm not sure there's as much to love here as in the preceding and succeeding operas, but its another interesting bridge along with Osud (which I really like) between Jenufa, and the "mature" operas.

I'm not sure what this opera is meant to tell us... is there a moral?
« Last Edit: September 13, 2010, 02:59:51 PM by Guido »
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Offline Guido

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #66 on: September 13, 2010, 03:07:13 PM »
Often, I get the exact same feeling with old Leoš as I do with Stravinsky - there are so many wonderful ideas, I just wish he'd linger a little longer on one and fully explore its potential. But just as you're wondering is awe at some detail or timbre in the orchestra, he's moved on to the next thing...
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Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #67 on: November 05, 2010, 07:08:31 AM »
So if I was interested in getting a bit of a grip on Janacek, would this be an OK starter?



I have his violin sonatas for years and string quartets too, and I recently got the Suite for String Orchestra coupled with Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra. So I have a little bit, but all small (I mean in number of performers) works. I wanted something big so I got this. A good move, you think?  Hope so.

BTW, WTF is "Glagolitic"??

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Offline not edward

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #68 on: November 05, 2010, 07:13:41 AM »
So if I was interested in getting a bit of a grip on Janacek, would this be an OK starter?



I have his violin sonatas for years and string quartets too, and I recently got the Suite for String Orchestra coupled with Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra. So I have a little bit, but all small (I mean in number of performers) works. I wanted something big so I got this. A good move, you think?  Hope so.

BTW, WTF is "Glagolitic"??

8)
Yes, yes and yes. The Glagolitic Mass is a staggering piece, and Ancerl's recording of it is one of the most electrifying recordings I know of anything.

I believe the title refers to the Mass being based on the old Slavonic liturgy.
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Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #69 on: November 05, 2010, 07:21:43 AM »
Yes, yes and yes. The Glagolitic Mass is a staggering piece, and Ancerl's recording of it is one of the most electrifying recordings I know of anything.

I believe the title refers to the Mass being based on the old Slavonic liturgy.

Ah, thanks, edward. I was hoping this would be the thing to jumpstart me in the right direction.

Ah, Slavonic. say no more!  :)

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #70 on: November 05, 2010, 07:36:35 AM »
I believe the title refers to the Mass being based on the old Slavonic liturgy.

Glagolitic is a bit of a misnomer.  It refers to an archaic alphabet that, like Cyrillic, was based on the Greek alphabet and was used in various parts of eastern Europe during the middle ages.   

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #71 on: November 05, 2010, 09:07:50 AM »
Glagolitic is a bit of a misnomer. 

True. But I have a hunch that Janacek was indulging in a bit of cultural nationalism here. The Glagolitic alphabet was probably created in Great Moravia (Velká Morava), the earliest Slavic state attested in history. Janacek himself was a proud Moravian.
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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #72 on: November 05, 2010, 09:13:46 AM »
True. But I have a hunch that Janacek was indulging in a bit of cultural nationalism here. The Glagolitic alphabet was probably created in Great Moravia (Velká Morava), the earliest Slavic state attested in history. Janacek himself was a proud Moravian.

True enough, but you wouldn't call the liturgy of the Russian Orthodox church a Cyrillic mass, would you?

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #73 on: November 05, 2010, 09:25:07 AM »
True enough, but you wouldn't call the liturgy of the Russian Orthodox church a Cyrillic mass, would you?

You wouldn't. Which is precisely why Janacek's title is interesting - the Glagolitic-Moravian connection.
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Offline Brian

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #74 on: November 05, 2010, 09:48:02 AM »
Ah, thanks, edward. I was hoping this would be the thing to jumpstart me in the right direction.

That's a glorious disc, Gurn. I listen to the Glagolitic Mass much like you listen to Beethoven's Ninth, except every three weeks, and only ever Ancerl. :)

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #75 on: November 05, 2010, 10:12:01 AM »
That's a glorious disc, Gurn. I listen to the Glagolitic Mass much like you listen to Beethoven's Ninth, except every three weeks, and only ever Ancerl. :)

Well, thanks for the encouragement, Brian. I know I'll like Taras Bulba, it is my sort of thing. The Mass will have to catch me just right, no matter how well performed. :)

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #76 on: November 05, 2010, 10:14:14 AM »
Well, thanks for the encouragement, Brian. I know I'll like Taras Bulba, it is my sort of thing. The Mass will have to catch me just right, no matter how well performed. :)

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Or you can get Mackerras' HIP version (with cuts and modifications applied to make it "performable" reversed).  I like Chailly/VPO.

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #77 on: November 05, 2010, 10:17:43 AM »
Or you can get Mackerras' HIP version (with cuts and modifications applied to make it "performable" reversed).  I like Chailly/VPO.

Nah, by all accounts, if I can't like Ancerl I might as well just give up. :)

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #78 on: December 01, 2010, 02:10:28 AM »
If anyone is interested here's premiere recording of Janacek's 2nd Quartet, 1943 Černý Quartet (aka Prague Quartet). Prewar/wartime recordings by Czech quartets tend to be rarely available.

http://shellackophile.blogspot.com/2010/10/janaceks-confidential-letters_25.html

Offline Luke

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Re: Janáček (Leoš' Lair)
« Reply #79 on: December 01, 2010, 10:26:14 AM »
'If anyone's interested' - I like it. Why, it's only what is possibly my single favourite piece of music! Many thanks for the link