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Mon, 1 November 2004 13:00:00 GMT
Rare Czech baroque music rediscovered
In my last chapter of this blog, I wrote about a 'new' CD (SUP 110760) I imported from the US a week or so back. It was recorded and issued back in 1989 by Czech recording company supraphon.cz with the title "Music at Prague's St James' church" with music by Cernohorsky, Vanura and Artophaeus.
Now, before anything, let's get it out of the way straight away; this is not a OVPP nor HIP recording. This is an A=440Hz tuned and 12-tone symphony orchestra normalised version, with a full 40 voices choir (Prague Radio Chorus) and the Dvorak Chamber Orchestra, all directed by Josef Hercl. With heaps of vibrato on some of the soloists. And I hate all of that. I love HIP and OVPP and clear, strong voices without the "I'm so darn dramatic" vibrato. So this CD was a poor buy then, huh?
No, not at all. In fact, it was rather wonderful. Despite some of the non-HIP flaws it has been quite enjoyable as I managed to put my prejudice behind me, and listen with an open ear and mind. Here is what I really think about it;
The three composers catered for here needs to be explored more. This is not a wish, but a direct command to anyone listening. The music is quite wonderful. Cernohorsky, Vanura (and the only thing I found about him was "Ceslav Vanura, 1694-1736, Czech Republic". If you know more, please do tell!) and Artophaeus are here represented by motets and masses, all beautifully done by the performers.
Highlights on this CD for me was the "Concertus de Resurrectione" by Artophaeus and all the compositions by Vanura. The singing is on par with the best of 1989 anywhere, and so is the playing; it has got drive and flame. They're singing and playing with fire and brilliance, and I would even claim that it is here better than most 1989 contemporary examples. Incidentally, for all my Monteverdi fans out there; also in 1989 his famed 'Vespro Della Beata Vergine 1610' (with ever-charming Emma Kirkby, et al), and hence a landmark for new thinking in mainstream Baroque performance. I am tempted to say that some of the performances of both recordings are on par, not a small feat from an unknown Czech recording at all!
One chilling performance is in Cernohorskys 'Regina Coeli' where the Prague Radio Chorus simply outdo most of choir music I've ever heard! Phrasing and diction is so spot on at the same time being warm, dramatic and inviting; it is worth the CD purchase alone.
But the true winner for me on this CD however was Ludmila Vernerová singing solo on Artophaeus' "Concertus de Resurrectione". If we ignore the tuning of the violins and concentrate on the music and the singing, it is impeccable! Glorius! Wonderful! Passionate! Perfect! Her voice is smack HIP on. I hence have found two favourites in this composer and in this warm, clear and alive soprano voice. I want to hear more of her, but it seems I need to travel to Prague to the State Opera to do that.
All in all, I am very pleased with this CD, despite its non-HIP flaws. Simply enjoy some really well-performed unknown Czech music, and catch a few gems while you're at it. By the way, this one is next on my quest for Czech Baroque music. Wish me luck, and blow other suggestions my way.Permalink (Mon, 1 November 2004 13:00:00 GMT)| Comments (1) | General