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This is inspired programming, not least in showing the evolution of Czech music from the residual traditionalism of Smetana’s brief, lovely cycle of Evening Songs to the full-blown modernity of Smetana’s immaculately structured setting of poems he found serialised in a newspaper; they have since been shown to be by Ozef Kalda (1871-1921). Vilém Přibyl and Libuše Márová are magnificent in Janáček’s dramatic cycle, which was staged at the Royal Opera House in June 2019 by Muziektheater Transparent. This version has every bit as much presence and sense of action. The small women’s group which delivers three songs has a choric function in the other sense, and the village boy/gypsy girl plot is in no way hackneyed or trite. Přibyl in particular inhabits this music rather than merely singing it. A wonderful recording.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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