This terrific recording of choral works by Leos Janácek features the superb Cappella Amsterdam, led by Daniel Reuss. The choir's tone is full, pure, richly nuanced, and the singing captures the wide idiomatic diversity of the music, which spans the composer's career; Janácek made the transcriptions of Dvorák's Moravian Duets between 1877 and 1884, and the 19-movement cycle Ríkadla dates from 1926, just a few years before his death. His Moravian Choruses are, predictably, Dvorákian in their lush melodic Romanticism, and the influence of Stravinsky is evident in the rhythmic complexities and acerbic quirkiness of Ríkadla. There are six other lovely, anthem-like choral works, including a massive 16-minute setting of the Lord's Prayer accompanied by harmonium and harp, that filter the traditional folk idioms of Czech and Moravian traditions through the composer's individual, dramatic voice. Tenor Thomas Walker is featured prominently in several of the songs. The most engaging and most characteristically Janácekian work is Ríkadla (Nursery Rhymes), scored for chorus and a truly weird ensemble including pairs of flutes, clarinets, bassoons, double bass, and piano, plus ocarina and toy drum. Radio Blazers Ensemble provides a perky, breezy accompaniment for the piece. The composer's treatment of the traditional texts is giddy and whimsically unpredictable, and often laugh-out-loud funny. The sound of the Harmonia Mundi recording is clean and warmly resonant, but the tenor sometimes sounds unnaturally foregrounded.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
|Six Moravian Choruses (Sechs Klänge aus Mähren)|
|Nursery Rhymes (Ríkadla)|
|On an Overgrown Path|