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John Quinn
MusicWeb International, January 2016

…the Bavarian Radio Choir make just as marvellous a contribution as I would expect. Their singing has great impact in the hard-hitting sections of the Gloria and Credo and there’s exuberance in their delivery of the ‘Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory’ section of the Sanctus—an exuberance that’s mirrored in the orchestra.

Tatiana Monogarova is highly impressive in the soprano role, …She’s fully caught up in what she’s singing and her tone is very pleasing indeed: the tone is rich and full and there’s no hint of shrillness…

The orchestral contribution is very fine indeed. The highlight for me is the instrumental interlude in the middle of the Credo which begins with a very beautiful rendition of the lyrical passage—the splendid cellos to the fore—before gathering momentum and urgency in a most satisfying way. © 2016 MusicWeb International Read complete review



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



Michael Cookson
MusicWeb International, September 2013

This highly appealing Blu-Ray disc from Arthaus contains two works filmed in concert at the annual Lucerne Easter Festival last year. The world class Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks under their chief conductor Mariss Jansons are joined in the Glagolitic Mass by a quartet of Slovak/Russian soloists and the Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks quite superbly prepared by Peter Dijkstra.

Jansons and his players are steeped in the music of Brahms. Sometimes referred to as Brahms’ Pastoral Jansons’s endearing reading radiates an airy freshness and quiet contentment. Here we encounter an abundance of lyricism and romantic expression coupled with buoyant textures; never dragging or feeling heavy. A slightly more seriousness side is revealed in the brooding slow movement. The Scherzo has some remarkably vibrant playing especially from the glowing woodwinds. The opening oboe solo is notable. In the closing Allegro con spirito there’s a robust sense of Alpine freshness. The work is ended in a majestic manner with trumpets and trombones finally letting gloriously loose in the last few pages.

It was good to have Jansons conducting the Mass. In the Úvod (Introduction) the impressive brass fanfares strongly reminded me of the stirringly lyrical opening of his Sinfonietta. The assured entrance of the chorus intoning the words ‘Lord has mercy on us’ in the Gospodi pomiluj (Kyrie) feels just perfect. Poised Moscow-born soprano Tatiana Monogarova enters with the words ‘Christ have mercy on us’. She shows clear enunciation and matches this with convincing reverence. Right from his first entry in the Slava (Gloria) with the words ‘Thou, who is seated at the right hand of the father’ I was struck by the wholehearted contribution of Slovakian tenor Ludovít Ludha. He sings with such vivid clarity and compelling piety. In the especially dark and threatening Credo Slovak bass Peter Mikuláš is in firm and secure voice for the words ‘and the life of the world to come’. There is some glorious music in this movement especially the stunning episode for low strings. A master-stroke in the Credo is the fairly short organ solo played by Latvian Iveta Apkalna.

Opening with a lovely solo violin the wonderful yet highly challenging Svet (Sanctus) with its layers of repeated motifs for the instrumental groups is played with unforced vibrancy. Marina Prudenskaja the Russian mezzo has little to sing in this work which is a pity as her singing is noticeably rich in tone when it comes to ‘blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’. Her contribution may be modest but it is telling. The final sung movement Agneče Božij (Agnus Dei) feels sinister and is heavy with dark foreboding. Here the Bavarian chorus and bass Mikuláš singing ‘Lamb of God thou takest away the sins of the world’. It’s a splendid example of reverential expression. Making a real impact in the penultimate movement Varhany sólo (Postludium), a dazzling showpiece for solo organ, is Iveta Apkalna’s glowing and commanding playing. The final movement Intrada (Exodus) has Jansons bringing the score to a jubilant close dominated by timpani and brass.

Michael Beyer, the video director, deploys a splendid, crisp colour palette and the performance starts quickly without lots of irritating pre-concert activity. The cameras certainly don’t linger long in any particular area and in that respect interest is engaged and held. My main problem is that the camera often tends to concentrate extremely closely on individual players when it would have been more appropriate to show groups of instruments. I’m unsure if Beyer had sufficient cameras at his disposal as some additional camera angles would have helped; for example, the lack of shots of the male choir is conspicuous.

The sound formats PCM Stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0 are quite superb conveying an agreeable sound perspective and plenty of orchestral detail together with an agreeable balance. The organ solo must have been difficult to capture but it is superbly put across.

All round these are winning performances. © MusicWeb International Read complete review





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