1894, 1912, 1915, 1918, 1921, 1923, 1992, Music

Janacek: Taras Bulba, The Fiddler’s Child, Jealousy (Overture), The Cunning Little Vixen Suite (1992) by Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jiri Belohlavek

This is a collection of orchestra works by Janacek; two standalone works, one overture extracted from an opera, and a suite of instrumental pieces from one of his operas.

Taras Bulba is an extended symphonic poem that is a little more programmatic than most of the ones I’m used to. (In this way, I believe it reminds me of Elgar…) It’s a full blown Romantic piece, with echoes of folk melodies and oodles of feeling. It’s a nice piece and enjoyable music, but I find it a tad too traditional to rave about it.

“Fiddler” is a pleasant and engaging orchestral ballad. It’s one of my favourite things I’ve heard by Janacek so far; it’s high romantic in all the best ways.

“Jealously” is a typical bombastic Romantic overture to an opera. I’m not sure why it needed to be separated out as an individual piece, but that was the practice at the time. (It may still be the practice given how much people like highlights.) It’s fine I guess.

The suite from The Cunning Little Vixen is even more insubstantial than most – it’s only two pieces (as performed here). It’s hard to know why it is ever performed separately from the opera except as a filler for compilations and performances…The one cool thing about the suite is the echoes of Psycho, perhaps it was the inspiration. Look, it’s engaging, I just don’t understand why we need to listen to it outside of the opera at the expense of another orchestral piece intended for independent listening.

Though there’s definitely some filler, the two main pieces are worth the price of admission, I think.

8/10

  1. Taras Bulba (23:25):
    1. Death Of Andrei 8:50
    2. Death Of Ostap 5:25
    3. Prophecy And Death Of Taras Bulba 9:02
  2. The Fiddlers Child 12:49
  3. Ouverture: Jealousy 5:53
  4. Suite: The Cunning Little Vixen (17:45):
    1. Andante 9:48
    2. Andante 7:52

Recorded February 3-4, 1991 (Taras Bulba, Vixen), June 22, 1991 (Jealousy), and March 10-11, 1992 (Fiddler’s Child).

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