Accentus

Janácek: Brumes d'Enfance

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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.

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