Jakub Hrusa

Janácek: Lachian Dances; The Cunning Little Vixen; Taras Bulba

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Despite billing themselves as a "Janácek Orchestra," the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra gets off to a very rocky start on his album of the composer's works, led by conductor Jakub Hrusa. In some ways, the orchestra can hardly be blamed. Janácek's Lachian Dances is hardly his most stunning, awe-inspiring composition. But the orchestra does little to infuse any sort of life into the set of six dances. The playing is pedantic, stodgy, and extremely bland. Moving on to a Suite from Janácek's opera The Cunning Little Vixen, arranged by Frantisek Jilek, the orchestra shows little improvement. Balance between sections is problematic, and articulation remains sloppy and lazy. Not until the final work on the program (Taras Bulba) does the orchestra finally start to wake up and play with a bit of enthusiasm. But by this point, it's really too little too late and most listeners will have long since tuned out. Only exacerbating the lackluster performance of the orchestra itself is Supraphon's dull, muffled sound throughout the disc, making it seem like listening to an orchestra concert from the lobby. Unless it's to obtain a recording of the infrequently heard Jilek arrangement of the Cunning Little Vixen Suite, this album could just as well be left behind.

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