Janáček: Glagolitic Mass; Adagio; Hail Mary; Our Father

Reviewed on Mon 25 Apr, 2016

Edward Gardner, together with his Bergen orchestra, two Norwegian choirs, an excellent international vocal solo quartet and organist Thomas Trotter, convey the music with ample sensitivity to idiom and urgent expression. In this they are aided considerably by the SACD recorded sound.

This is the second recording with Nordic origins of Janáček’s rambunctious Glagolitic Mass to be released by Chandos, the first being Sir Charles Mackerras’s 1994 Danish National Radio version using the original text. Using the standard score, Edward Gardner, together with his Bergen orchestra, two Norwegian choirs, an excellent international vocal solo quartet and organist Thomas Trotter, convey the music with ample sensitivity to idiom and urgent expression. In this they are aided considerably by the SACD recorded sound. The results stand comparison with some alternatives: Gardner has better soloists and sound quality than Sir Simon Rattle (EMI/Warner) and a more linguistically accurate chorus and, crucially, better brass than Rafael Kubelík (DG). For sheer insight and quality of performance I still love Karel Ančerl’s 1963 Czech Philharmonic recording with its full-blooded vintage sound (Supraphon), as well as Mackerras's. Gardner’s accompaniments are the early, mournful orchestral Adagio, a Slavonic setting of The Lord’s Prayer (Otče náš) and the highly individual Hail Mary (Zdrávas Maria) – each realised with care and emotion. Useful accompanying notes; texts and translations included.
–Evan Dickerson