Janáček: Taras Bulba; Violin Concerto; The Ballad of Blaník; The Fiddler's Child; Jealousy; The Danube

Reviewed on Tue 23 Jun, 2015

Creative programming was required for Chandos to stretch their “Janáček Orchestral Works” to two volumes. The highlights of this second are Taras Bulba and The Fiddler’s Child, but these are accompanied by four rarities: Jealousy (the discarded prelude to Jenůfa), the tone poem The Ballad of Blaník, and an unfinished violin concerto and Danube Symphony, presented here in 1980s completions. No undiscovered masterpieces, but all are attractive, especially the lively, if brief, Concerto. Edward Gardner and the Bergen Philharmonic are impressive as ever, the orchestra lacking only that last touch of finesse in the brass. Three impressive soloists too. James Ehnes has an ideally sinewy yet rich tone in the Concerto. Leader Melina Mandozzi is more demure but equally impressive in The Fiddler’s Child. And soprano Susanna Andersson reaches all the stratospheric notes in the Danube Symphony, though she hardly sounds comfortable up there. Recorded sound is excellent, with an expansive, involving soundstage, even in two-channel SACD.
–Gavin Dixon