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Sacred Vocal Music - Released May 12, 2017 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or - Diapason d'or / Arte - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Antonín Dvorák's Stabat Mater, Op. 58, truly merits the adjective "tragic"; it was written after the deaths of two of the composer's children in succession, and his grief rolled out in great, Verdian waves. There are several strong recordings on the market, including an earlier one by conductor Jiří Bělohlávek himself, but for the combination of deep feeling, technical mastery from musicians and singers who have spent their lives getting to know the score, and soloists who not only sound beautiful but are seamlessly integrated into the flow, this Decca release may be the king of them all. To what extent was the strength of the performance motivated by Bělohlávek's likely fatal illness (he died days after the album entered the top levels of classical charts in the spring of 2017)? It's hard to say, although he also delivered top-notch performances of Dvorák's Requiem in his last days. The members of the Prague Philharmonic Choir sing their hearts out in the gigantic, shattering opening chorus, which has rarely if ever had such a mixture of the impassioned and the perfectly controlled. Sample the chorus "Virgo virginium praeclara" to hear the magically suspended quality Bělohlávek brings out of the singers in lightly accompanied passages. The soloists, soprano Eri Nakamura, mezzo Elisabeth Kulman, tenor Michael Spyres, and bass Jongmin Park -- an international group in this otherwise almost all-Czech production -- are uniformly strong, but what stands out most is how inevitable their entrances sound. If this turns out to be Bělohlávek's swan song, it is an accomplishment for the ages. Highest possible recommendation. © TiVo
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released August 31, 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
The late, great Czech conductor Jiří Bělohlávek was active until shortly before his death in May of 2017, and record companies have realized the high quality of his recordings of Czech music during his last years and rushed to issue it. This double-CD set from Decca of Leos Janáček's music combines recordings from various sessions, although all were made at the Rudolfinium in Prague, a hall that Bělohlávek knew inside and out. There's nothing here to quite match Bělohlávek's shattering Ma Vlast with the Czech Philharmonic, also issued by Decca in 2018, and at some points in the symphonic poem Taras Bulba, based on Gogol's novel, the Czech Philharmonic strings lack their usual sheen. But all the virtues of Bělohlávek's conducting are on display here: his awesome attention to detail, his deliberate approach and way of making space for the long line, his profound Czech melodies. And you do get a joyous reading of the Sinfonietta, recorded just a few months before the conductor's death. The main attraction, the Glagolitic Mass, is recommended. There are many recordings of this work, one of the few to apply late Romantic idioms to sacred music effectively (the title refers to the alphabet used to write the Old Slavonic text of the mass), but Bělohlávek and the Czech Philharmonic give it great weight and depth. A bonus is the early and underexposed tone poem The Fiddler's child (1912), where you can almost sense Janáček straining to depart from Dvorák's example. Recommended. © TiVo
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Symphonic Music - Released April 26, 2019 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica
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Symphonic Music - Released September 4, 2012 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Hi-Res Audio
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Full Operas - Released September 11, 2012 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released September 28, 2010 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Hi-Res Audio
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Opera - Released October 19, 2018 | Supraphon a.s.

Hi-Res Distinctions Diapason d'or
What men live by? described by Martinu as a pastoral-opera was written in 1951-1952 in the United States, to an English libretto by the composer after the short story by Leo Tolstoy "Where Love is, there God is also" (1885), and premiered as a television broadcast in New York in May 1953. The first staged performance took place on July 31, 1954, in Interlochen, Michigan. Today we owe Belohlavek and the Czech Philharmonic orchestra this first discographic recording. Here is the argument: devastated by the pain of the loss of his wife and children, Martin Avdeitch, cobbler by trade, is comforted in the reading of the Bible. During a dream, he sees Jesus who promises him to visit him the next day. While waiting for this meeting, the man helps a poor mother with her child, offers a tea to a soldier, takes the defense of a child whom his grandmother denounces as a thief. In the evening, he hears again the voice of Jesus who says to him: "Did you not recognize me?" « [...] the composer wants more joy than preaching: "you have to sing it like a popular song, without pathos." Jiri Belohlavek does not betray his will. Well helped by Lukas Vasilek's luminous Martinu Voices and a Czech Philharmonic which in the Great Hall of Rudolfinum perfectly adapts to the dimensions of this intimate theater, he paints a lively and superbly imagined miniature. Entirely Czech-speaking, the voices color English with inflections that add to the cachet of this first recording. Nothing to say about the performance of Ivan Kusnjer, always able to find the appropriate expressive register. [...] Belohlavek adorns the Symphony No. 1 (1942) with new finery, after a first engraving under a stormy sky (Chandos) and an English remake full of a luminous interiority (Onyx). [...] » (Diapason, January 2019 / Nicolas Derny). Disappeared in 2017, the Czech conductor will not have had time to record his new version of the Martinu complete symphonies. © Qobuz
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Classical - Released August 1, 1991 | Chandos

Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released January 5, 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet
This was not the last recording made by the great Czech conductor Jiří Bělohlávek; it was taken from festival performances in 2014. It is perhaps, however, the final Bělohlávek release, and as such it makes a fine swan song. There is perhaps no Czech symphonic work outside of Dvorák's collection more widely recorded than Má Vlast, Bedrich Smetana's collection of tone poems about the physical Czech landscape. Yet there is no sense of convention about this reading with the king of all Czech ensembles, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra: all of the six parts of Má Vlast are carefully shaped, and they're often thrilling. The mystery of the historical music of the castle in the opening "Vysehrad" is palpable. Sample perhaps "Vltava" (The Moldau), the second tone poem, the most familiar of them everywhere. Here it is not the usual river, dancing in regular tempo, but a set of rapids rippling with some vigor. Bělohlávek's interpretations of the pieces fit together into a coherent whole, with a richly triumphant finale in "Blanik," and the Czech Philharmonic, sinewy and strong, has never sounded better. Definitive Smetana, with fine sound from Decca. © TiVo
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Concertos - Released April 1, 1996 | Chandos

Booklet
These recordings, taken from the early '90s, came at an intense period in the Czechoslovakian region: in 1993, Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. At about the same time, the Czech Philharmonic had some civil unrest of its own: after some growing pains in its organization, in 1994 it voted to oust music director Jirí Belohlávek in favor of Gerd Albrecht. This release features the embattled Belohlávek conducting his former orchestra in the era immediately preceding his departure in a performance of Hindemith's symphonic masterpiece Mathis der Maler. Ironically, Hindemith's work also had significant pains of its own: the fierce political climate in Germany as the Nazis rose to power made performances of new works hard to come by. Mathis, completed in 1934, was no exception. It began as a commission from conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler (who also helped secure the first performance) and is based on real-life artist Mathias Grünewald's Isenheim Altarpiece for the Monastery of St. Anthony (1515). A three-paneled artistic triumph, the Isenheim was on display in order to give hope to victims of the sometimes-fatal disease ergotism (often caused by the ingestion of moldy bread among peasants). The images depicted include the Crucifixion, Jesus, St. Sebastian, and St. Anthony. The challenges of performing Hindemith are not easy to overcome, and here Belohlávek has some problems. Chief among them is his rough, coarse sound, hardly suitable for the work's first movement, "Engelkonzert" (Angel's Concert). In addition to setting the wrong atmosphere, Belohlávek's approach also limits the amount of Hindemith's counterpoint that can be revealed. Things do get better, though. In the second movement, "Grablegung" (Entombment), based on Grunewald's depiction of Christ's burial, Belohlávek seems to lighten up and the Czech Philharmonic responds swiftly, subtly, and beautifully. It is the third movement, though, that demonstrates Belohlávek's capabilities best: he creates a frenzied atmosphere that overflows with a wildness of emotion throughout Hindemith's thick, weighty harmonies -- all the way to the exuberant, climactic end. And, while Belohlávek does seem to bring a lyrical sense to the music that is not necessarily inherent within, the overall effect sounds too forced, heavy, and sluggish. The Concerto for winds, harp, and orchestra and the Konzertmusik for brass and strings fill out the remainder of this compact disc. Neither of these pieces has enjoyed particular popularity. The Konzertmusik was completed in 1931 on the fulfillment of a commission from Sergey Koussevitsky for the Boston Symphony Orchestra's 50th anniversary. Belohlávek's reading, while aggressive, deep, and heavy, seems to balance the brass and strings well. The concerto, completed much later in the late '40s, is one of Hindemith's most lyrical works and contains some nice moments. A mixed bag overall, though: fans of Mathis might do well to try Wolfgang Sawallisch's 1994 EMI recording. © TiVo
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Symphonic Music - Released June 1, 1992 | Chandos

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Classical - Released August 31, 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Booklet
The late, great Czech conductor Jiří Bělohlávek was active until shortly before his death in May of 2017, and record companies have realized the high quality of his recordings of Czech music during his last years and rushed to issue it. This double-CD set from Decca of Leos Janáček's music combines recordings from various sessions, although all were made at the Rudolfinium in Prague, a hall that Bělohlávek knew inside and out. There's nothing here to quite match Bělohlávek's shattering Ma Vlast with the Czech Philharmonic, also issued by Decca in 2018, and at some points in the symphonic poem Taras Bulba, based on Gogol's novel, the Czech Philharmonic strings lack their usual sheen. But all the virtues of Bělohlávek's conducting are on display here: his awesome attention to detail, his deliberate approach and way of making space for the long line, his profound Czech melodies. And you do get a joyous reading of the Sinfonietta, recorded just a few months before the conductor's death. The main attraction, the Glagolitic Mass, is recommended. There are many recordings of this work, one of the few to apply late Romantic idioms to sacred music effectively (the title refers to the alphabet used to write the Old Slavonic text of the mass), but Bělohlávek and the Czech Philharmonic give it great weight and depth. A bonus is the early and underexposed tone poem The Fiddler's child (1912), where you can almost sense Janáček straining to depart from Dvorák's example. Recommended. © TiVo
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Symphonic Music - Released February 1, 1991 | Chandos

Booklet
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Classical - Released June 1, 2006 | Warner Classics International

Although the performances and the repertoire on the first disc of this two-disc set are more than somewhat disappointing, the performance and the repertoire on the second disc make it all worthwhile. The performers are the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Czech conductor Jirí Belohlávek and the repertoire are two middle symphonies and a couple of single-movement orchestral works by Bohemian composer Antonin Dvorák. But while the Fifth Symphony that opens the first disc is pleasantly tuneful, attractively colorful, and solidly composed and the Scherzo capriccioso that follows is wonderfully tuneful, wildly colorful, and imaginatively composed, the late symphonic poem called The Hero's Song that closes the disc is thematically banal, extravagantly colorful, and nearly incoherently composed. And the performances decline along with the music. While the BBC's winds are fabulous in the Fifth, they are close to cloying in The Hero's Song, while the brass is magnificent in the Scherzo capriccioso, they are almost bombastic in The Hero's Song, and while Belohlávek's conducting is assured throughout, he cannot force the unruly structure of The Hero's Song to cohere. However, Belohlávek and the BBC's performance of Sixth Symphony on the second disc is easily as good as the best ever recorded. Of course, the Sixth is far and away the finest of Dvorák's middle symphonies -- brightly scored, brilliantly melodic, irresistibly rhythmic, and cogently, even compellingly, composed, the Sixth is an endlessly appealing work. And it gets a performance wholly worthy of it from Belohlávek and the BBC. The winds are tart and sweet, the strings are tender and strong, the brass is blended and balanced, and under Belohlávek, the ensemble is tight but loose and supple but powerful. Even compared with the finest performances of the past -- the Kertész, the Rowicki, the Kubelík, and the later Mackerras -- Belohlávek's Sixth is as lyrical and idiomatic as any of them, more dramatic than most of them, and arguably more heroic than any of them. Listeners who love the work, love Dvorák, or love great, late nineteenth century symphonies will love this disc -- although they may be disappointed by the first disc. Warner Classics' sound is rich, ripe, and full. © TiVo
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Classical - Released September 1, 1995 | Chandos

Booklet
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Symphonic Music - Released March 1, 1993 | Chandos

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Symphonic Music - Released September 1, 1996 | Chandos

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Symphonic Music - Released May 1, 1993 | Chandos

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Concertos - Released February 1, 1993 | Chandos

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Symphonic Music - Released August 1, 1992 | Chandos