Albums

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released March 1, 2014 | Pavane Records

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released April 15, 2002 | Warner Classics International

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Choral Music (Choirs) - Released January 17, 2005 | Warner Classics International

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Choral Music (Choirs) - Released September 1, 2013 | Warner Classics International

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released December 6, 2013 | Sony Music Entertainment

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released November 5, 2013 | TYXart

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released November 5, 2013 | TYXart

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released November 4, 2013 | Warner Classics International

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released November 1, 2013 | Warner Classics International

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released August 26, 2013 | naïve classique

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This lovely release presents some little-known works by Leos Janácek, whose known oeuvre grows more impressive with each passing year. The title Brumes d'enfance (Mists of Childhood) is not the name of a work (although one short piano suite is called "In the Mists"), nor even a general mood title, but rather a thematic indicator: most of the music involves childhood in one way or another. One wishes for more recitals of this kind, combining works for various forces in a single idea, and the format would have been familiar to Janácek's own audiences. The ingenious little Rikadla (Nursery Rhymes) of 1926 are settings of children's verses that appeared in a Czech newspaper. The Elegie na Smrt Dcery Olgy (Elegy on the Death of My Daughter Olga) carries the emotional weight of the program: two of the composer's children died before reaching adulthood. Several of the works are from Janácek's own youth, and although they don't specifically treat childhood they are choral works rooted in folk song and storytelling. The French chorus Accentus, known for its virtuoso vocal arrangements of instrumental repertory, applies its celestial sound effectively to more down-to-earth stuff. These early works are particularly interesting: they sounded little like Dvorák's interpretation of musical folklore, which would have been Janácek's model at the time, and instead have a dramatic conception that points the way toward Janácek's own operas. The only work that doesn't readily fit the theme of childhoood is the impressionistic little piano suite V Mlhách (In the Mists), but it's clear why it was included: it seems to fit spiritually with the rest of the music, which shows a more lyrical side of this great composer. The entire album reflects his distinctive voice, and it is highly recommended indeed.

Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released March 1, 2013 | Timpani

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released January 1, 2013 | Glossa

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released January 1, 2013 | Ondine

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released August 7, 2012 | Carpe Diem

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released May 15, 2012 | harmonia mundi

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Tenor Mark Padmore has an ideal voice for these two Britten song cycles written for Peter Pears. He has the kind of musical sensitivity and attentiveness to textual subtleties that characterized Pears' singing. His voice is essentially light in the way that Pears' was, but his is infinitely more attractive. Its tone is clear and pure, with none of Pears' nasal quality, and can be sweet without sounding precious. Padmore's technique seems absolutely secure and while his instrument is not large, he can produce an impressive range of dynamics. He and horn player Stephen Bell deliver a terrific performance of the Serenade for tenor, horn, and strings, and Jacqueline Shave's leadership of the Britten Sinfonietta is energetic and nuanced. Padmore's phrasing is shapely and expressive and he can spin out the seamless legato most of these songs require. In "Hymn," he and Bell sing and play with nimble fleetness that seems thrillingly close to the edge of spinning out of control but that ultimately lands safely. The performance of "Dirge" is charged with darker-than-usual sinister energy; the running string figures that follow the canon seem here more like a demonic dance than a dirge, to wonderful, scary effect. There is no lack of topnotch recordings of the Serenade, but this is a version that anyone who loves the piece will want to hear. In Nocturne, Padmore again excels in bringing intelligent and sensitive, sometimes soaring musicality to the songs. Finzi's cycle Dies Natalis is something of a novelty, but it fits well with the Britten. His harmonic language is eloquently post-Romantic, solidly in the English pastoral tradition, and his text setting relatively conventional, but the cycle is a lovely, lyrical, entirely successful exemplar of that tradition. Serenade, written about five years after Dies Natalis, demonstrates by contrast the daring individuality of Britten's handling of texts and the rich originality of his melodic gift. The sound of Harmonia Mundi's SACD is immaculate and detailed, with a gripping sense of presence.
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released January 24, 2012 | harmonia mundi

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released January 3, 2012 | Ondine

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released November 8, 2011 | harmonia mundi

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released April 14, 2011 | Mirare

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released March 11, 2011 | harmonia mundi

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