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Sean Burton
Choral Journal, February 2013

Colleagues in a position to program Leoš Janácek’s extroverted Glagolitic Mass would be well served by this recent Naxos recording. Conductor Antoni Wit expertly marshals the vast assemblage of musicians needed to mount a credible performance of the Mass, and rightfully unleashes the brass throughout his rendering of the score in its final 1928 version. Of particular note is Wit’s masterful balancing of tutti sections at fortissimo dynamics, specifically his tasteful approach to the unrelenting timpani part. Conductor Henryk Wojnarowski’s Warsaw Philharmonic Choir sounds perfectly prepared, the four soloists successfully navigate the composer’s considerable demands…

Glagolitic Mass is a pan-Slavic setting of the Mass in Old Church Slavonic. The work’s fascinating genesis, and its significance in the composer’s oeuvre, offers a wealth of intriguing reading material. An additional bonus of this recording can be found in the inclusion of Janácek’s Sinfonietta, an unapologetically nationalistic symphonic work now present on this conductor’s “bucket list.”

…the recording’s excellent overall sound quality and Richard Whitehouse’s thorough CD notes unite to overcome this issue and result in a confident recommendation for immediate purchase. © 2013 Choral Journal

Leslie Wright
MusicWeb International, August 2012

This most logical coupling of two of Janáček’s greatest compositions of the last decade of his life is not all that common on disc. It is, then, my pleasure to welcome the recent release of this disc. The main question here…is how do these new accounts stack up against the many recordings of these works? As far as the identical coupling is concerned, I have no hesitation in claiming them to be at the very top, ahead of Rattle (EMI) and Tilson Thomas (Sony).

Overall, Wit and his Warsaw forces have the measure of this extraordinary mass. If one had heard only this recording, I am confident it would provide real satisfaction.

What makes this new disc indispensable is the Sinfonietta. For both performance and sound it belongs in the top echelon of recordings of this dazzling work…the sound here is terrific. The crucial timpani make the necessary impact both in the opening Allegretto fanfares and in its reprise in the last movement. The orchestra as a whole is outstanding with special praise due to the brass and winds. The trumpets are glorious, and in tune, and the tuba and trombones are particularly good in the third movement—better than in most other recordings. Wit uses the larger tubular bells in the third and fourth movements, which seems right to me, rather than the tinkling glockenspiel some conductors employ. I should mention that the strings, too, leave nothing to be desired here. I would now place Wit’s account on the same level as those of Ančerl and Mackerras and ahead of Abbado and Serebrier, among others.

In my opinion, then, Wit’s is the best option now for this particular combination of works on one disc. The Sinfonietta alone makes it indispensable. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Colin Anderson
HIFICRITIC, March 2012

…Antoni Wit shapes an appreciably musical account that is always going somewhere, is very well prepared, and with plenty of mystical magic along the way…Wit plays the long game and encourages an appropriate raw edge at times. Christiane Libor is a fearless soprano…Jarosław Malanowicz takes the organ solos with aplomb. This would be a great budget-price introduction to a work that is genuinely unique. Standing out is the Sinfonietta, the opening and closing movements, with their extra contingent brass, really blaze and are confidently played. The middle movements are also alive with frisson and depiction; poignant and exuberant music. This whole performance buzzes! The sound is spacious and open, the chorus and the brass very well defined in a spacious acoustic. The choir and soloists are imposing. © 2012 HIFICRITIC

Andrew Stewart
Classic FM, February 2012

Antoni Wit’s Warsaw Philharmonic forces plug directly into the emotional power of Janáček’s music, reacting like demons to the distinct undulations of its speech-inspired melodic lines and spanning a rich tonal spectrum all too often missing in performances of the Glagolitic Mass. © 2012 Classic FM

Paul Sarcich
Music & Vision, January 2012

‘…Wit and his Polish forces come out of it all extremely well indeed.’ © 2012 Music & Vision Read complete review

Culture Catch, January 2012

Culture Catch Best of 2011: #14

The increasingly great Polish conductor Antoni Wit…delivers the best digitally recorded version I've heard of the standard edition of the Glagolitic Mass. © 2012 Culture Catch See complete list

Malcolm Riley
Gramophone, January 2012

JANACEK, L.: Glagolitic Mass / Sinfonietta (Libor, Marciniec, Bentch, Gierlach, Malanowicz, Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, Wit) 8.572639
JANACEK, L.: Glagolitic Mass / Sinfonietta (Libor, Marciniec, Bentch, Gierlach, Malanowicz, Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Wit) (Blu-Ray Audio) NBD0026

the new contender is seriously competitive, both in terms of the quality of the musicianship and interpretation on display, as well as the recorded sound. …this is a performance which is gripping from start to finish. The polished choral singing is a joy, with excellent pitching throughout, especially in the cruelly exposed unaccompanied entries. The orchestra’s contribution is equally distinguished. How refreshing it is to hear such ‘unhomogenised’ clarinet- and trumpet-playing.

The solo quartet also acquits itself favourably…

As a bonus, the new Sinfonietta recording easily supplants Ondrej Lenárd’s 20-year-old recording for Naxos with the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra. The balance is first-rate and no tiny detail is overlooked. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

James Manheim, December 2011

The Naxos label has done excellent work in bringing the music-making of the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra with conductor Antoni Wit (and its fine associated choir) to wider distribution. There are a number of fine recordings of Leos Janácek’s Glagolitic Mass and the perversely named Sinfonietta...But this one, unusually well recorded on a couple of occasions at Warsaw’s Philharmonic Hall, can stand with any of them. These are clear, confident interpretations that do justice to both of these late Janácek pieces, masterworks of the 20th century. © 2011 Read complete review

David Hurwitz, November 2011

Truth be told, there are few organizations better equipped to deliver satisfying performances of large choral works than Antoni Wit and his Warsaw forces. The choir is excellent, top to bottom; likewise, the orchestra.

It’s also impossible not to mention Jaroslaw Malanowicz’s scorcher of an organ solo, and a conclusion that effectively lets the colorful weirdness of Janáček’s brass writing register without exaggeration. It’s a wonderful performance, plain and simple.

The return of the opening fanfare is handled perfectly, and the closing chords hit you with that physical thrill that always registers in the best performances. This is, by any standard, a major release—a mandatory purchase for anyone who loves this music, or wants to get to know it. Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2011

Janáček’s two most popular and frequently recorded concert works make for a highly desirable new release from Warsaw’s superb orchestra and choir. Today he is fashionable, particularly in the opera house, but it is worth recalling that fifty years ago such a recording would have been a rare event outside of his native Czechoslovakia. Completed in the same year, when Janáček was seventy-two, both works show his willingness to experiment remained undimmed. The five movements of the Sinfonietta require a very large orchestra that includes a much enlarged brass section, the brilliant writing placing it among 20th century orchestral showpieces. The Mass is unlike any other sacred work of that title, and after an opening brass fanfare, it uses not the Latin text but the Old Church Slavonic which Janáček expresses in pungent tones. Often borrowing from his theatre works, it is of an operatic inclination, his solo writing very taxing with the tenor taken to the highest register. Separating the Agnus Dei from the final orchestral Intrada comes a gigantic outburst for solo organ. From a choral perspective it is full of unusual moments, the use of ‘Amen’ at the close of the Credo being a moment of sheer inspiration. Certainly we are not short of outstanding recordings, Karel Ancerl’s 1964 version being the benchmark, though his Czech recording is becoming dated, and this new release from Wit has the benefit of the superb Warsaw Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra in stunning form. His soloists are well attuned to the Janáček style and the recording does not spotlight instruments in the Sinfonietta, which is rare on disc. The Mass is immaculately balanced and the release is  much recommended.

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