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Dave Billinge
MusicWeb International, December 2013

BRAHMS, J.: Symphony No. 2 / JANACEK, L.: Glagolitic Mass (Jansons) (NTSC) 101684
BRAHMS, J.: Symphony No. 2 / JANACEK, L.: Glagolitic Mass (Jansons) (Blu-ray, HD) 108080

Two very different works which make for a most enterprising, indeed surprising coupling. Jansons proves to be a master of both of them and triumphs in this wonderful concert.

Jansons goes for beauty and restraint in the opening strains of Brahms glorious Second Symphony…That said, he does have an overall concept of the work, one where he winds up the tensions over its full span. This first movement is intensely beautiful and features, not for the only time, the lovely playing of solo horn Eric Terwilliger. The slow movement is intensely expressive. Here the strings of this splendid orchestra come into their own. The third movement is crisply played and moulded with great care for detail. This is an interpretation, not just a well groomed performance: just as it should be. The finale is definitely con spirito, again beautifully articulated by an orchestra who are visibly involved in the drama. Absolutely top class.

Jansons shows consistency with the preceding Brahms when the opening of Janáček’s Mass is again beautiful and grand…This results in the woodwind solos gaining prominence. At the opening of the Kyrie the brass growl impressively and the lyrical oboe line is given full weight. The sense of yearning is strong, one feels that the chorus is really begging for the Lord to have mercy. Tatiana Monogarova, the soprano, is particularly good here. The Gloria opens with great intensity and the ferocious string writing is brilliantly articulated. The tenor Ludovit Ludha sings his cries of Glory with appropriate fervour and with remarkable accuracy…The coda with drums and organ is excellent. In the Credo Jansons again replaces fervour with a mix of beauty and firm rhythmic control, which, given the top class singing here, is very impressive indeed. The orchestral interlude is intensely lyrical and builds strongly to the brass fanfares which precede the first organ cadenza. The organist has chosen her stops and mixes well to make the bright colours Janáček’s music seems to need. Thrilling brass and drum playing prepare for the great tenor cry about belief in one holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. At this point the bass Peter Mikuláš proves that he too is up to high intensity singing. After the drama of the Credo the Sanctus is more grand and offers the superb horn section another opportunity to shine. Jansons accelerates excitingly for the brass and percussion moments but still exerts control…The Agnus Dei is beautifully done by the excellent chorus at a very deliberate pace, but this allows the intoning brass to come through clearly. Here Janáček uses all his forces to close the sung part of the work. Iveta Apkalna proves her skill in the furious second organ cadenza choosing stops that blaze…The whole orchestra play with urgency in these closing bars. By this time I too was ready to call bravo along with the Lucerne audience.

The sound on the DVD is very satisfactory; that on the Blu-ray is cleaner and has a wider dynamic range, better defined and more extended treble and more spaciousness. The picture on the DVD is quite good; that on the Blu-ray much better. © 2013 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Robert Benson, August 2013

Orchestral Music - STRAUSS, R. / WAGNER, R. / BRAHMS, J. (Stemme, Jansons) (Salzburg Festival, 2012) (NTSC) 2072628
BRAHMS, J.: Symphony No. 2 / JANACEK, L.: Glagolitic Mass (Jansons) (NTSC) 101684

Mariss Jansons, Music Director of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, is a popular guest conductor in leading music centers, and here we have him conducting two Brahms symphonies. Symphony No 1 is with the Vienna Philharmonic…These concerts also featured Strauss’s Don Juan and Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder with soprano Nina Stemme. Symphony No 2 was the opening work in a concert at the Lucerne Festival…a program ending with Janácek’s Glagolitic Mass with soloists and the Bavarian Radio Orchestra and Chorus. Powerful performances all, with both orchestras in top form, the Vienna Philharmonic in repertory very familiar to them…This performance of Brahms’ Symphony No 2 was lauded in the local press, and the concluding Janácek was called “a blistering performance,” which it surely was. Jansons seems to be particularly involved with this odd choral work, and he had four perfect soloists, particularly soprano Tatiana Monogarova. The Varhany organ solo was played is by lovely Iveta Apkalna…The chorus makes some exciting sounds indeed. Excellent video and audio on both disks… © 2013 Read complete review

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