Panocha Quartet

Janácek: String Quartets

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There are many better performances of the awe-inspiring Taras Bulba -- start with the Talich and the Czech Philharmonic, then the Kubelik and the Chicago Symphony or the Kubelik and the Bavarian Radio, then the Mackerras and the Vienna Philharmonic or the Belohlávek and the Czech Philharmonic -- and there are a couple of better performances of Jealousy -- either the older Mackerras and the Pro Arte Orchestra or the newer Mackerras and the Vienna Philharmonic -- but for the rest of the orchestral music of Janácek on this disc, Frantisek Jilek and the Brno State Philharmonic Orchestra are as good as it gets. Admittedly, there's not much competition for the early Adagio or The Ballad of Blanik or the Serbian Kolo, but that doesn't mean Jilek and the Brnonians are not entirely convincing. As good as third-rate clap-trap can sound, The Ballad of Blanik sounds that way in Jilek's extravagant interpretation and the Brnonians' exciting performances. And that doesn't mean their performances of Taras Bulba and Jealousy are not just as extravagant and exciting -- the closing pages of "The Prophesy and Death of Taras Bulba" are indeed awe-inspiring -- it's just that the competition is so much stiffer.

Supraphon's sound is as good as most early digital recordings in the 1986 Taras Bulba and better than most digital recordings in the 1991 and 1992 recordings of everything else.

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