New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

Janácek: Orchestral Suites from the Operas, Vol. 1

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AllMusic Review by

Composer, conductor, and arranger Peter Breiner has done an able job of adapting sections of Janácek's operas Jenufa and The Excursions of Mr. Broucek into multimovement suites for orchestra by leaving the orchestral parts intact, subsuming the vocal lines into the orchestra, and appending concert endings. Even if Breiner adds nothing to Janácek's glorious music, he does make it possible for the music to be played out of context of the operas. As a conductor, Breiner does an enthusiastic job of bringing his arrangements to life and one can catch the sense of excitement and pathos that informs Janácek's scores. But his orchestra, the New Zealand Symphony, cannot match his enthusiasm. Though it certainly gives its best effort, the orchestra lacks the strength to bring out the big melodies, the energy to bring out the powerful rhythms, and the finesse to balance the strength and energy it does have, and the result is a pair of performances that sound less specifically Moravian and more generically nationalist and more clinical than inspired. For listeners who deeply love Janácek's operas, these suites will likely fail to satisfy. And for listeners who don't already know Janácek's operas, this disc is likely to fail to lead them to the operas themselves. Naxos' digital sound is colorful and clear, but curiously two-dimensional; that is, it has height and width, but no depth.

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