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Chandos’s fine Janacek series under Edward Gardner and his Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra continues with a stunning performance of the Glagolitic Mass. Opting for the revised version of the Mass – a justifiable choice as, for once, the composer himself was responsible for the changes – Gardner steers his forces in a reading that is properly dramatic and musically probing. Not since Rattle’s with the CBSO has there been a recording of the Glagolitic Mass that reaches to the heart of this powerful masterpiece with such fervour. Gardner is fortunate in having four outstanding soloists, while Thomas Trotter makes the most of his contribution at the organ of Bergen Cathedral. The choir sing their collective socks off as they relish the Old Slavonic texts, while the Bergen orchestra play this music to the manner born. The make-weights include a wonderful setting of the Lord’s Prayer for tenor, choir, harp and organ, and an Ave Maria for soprano, chorus, violin and organ. With a single purely orchestral piece on the disc – a six-minute Adagio once thought to belong to Janacek’s early opera Sarka – it’s surely a misnomer to describe the CD as ‘Orchestral Works’; but that is to quibble when the music-making is so thrilling.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica


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