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Reviews: Janacek: Sinfonietta, Taras Bulba - Kosler

Reviews: 1

Review by tonereef January 16, 2013 (2 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
When these stirring, characterful performances were taped in April 1977, Kosler was the CPO’s second conductor, under Neumann. (Neither by the way was a friend of the regime). It was one of the Supraphon-Denon co-productions of that era that were released on 14-or 16-bit digital LP in Japan, and in this case in SQ analogue on Supraphon. The SACD’s Japanese-only notes say the source is analogue, and it’s part of their “Supraphon 4ch collection” though I don’t know what other SACDs that includes.

Kosler toured Japan with the CPO four times and did a lot of guest conducting there over the years, so perhaps that was a consideration in Nippon Columbia (formerly Denon) deciding to remaster this to DSD in 2007 – and, who knows, in Kosler getting to conduct the recording in first place. (Neumann recorded these pieces with the CPO only in 1982.)

About the performances I completely agree with the reviewer of the Denon CD, who calls them “ecstatic”, “volcanic”, “throat-grabbing”. And to hear the CPO play these pieces in high-res is, I can now say, a thrill. For the longest time though I had a problem with the sound. It’s certainly not ‘audiophile’. There’s considerable spotlighting; the upper strings, winds and brass all tend towards the over-lit; deep bass is lacking and there’s not a great deal of warmth either; and the mics capture a lot of the long, heavy reverberation of the Rudolfinum – all of which can make the sound somewhat glassy and coagulated when things get loud (at least in stereo). So unless you have a highly resolving and truthfully balanced system you might not be as taken by this disc as I am. Upgrading from the Stax SR007 to SR009 and an amp that does those phones justice actually made the recording thoroughly enjoyable for the first time. Now the sound comes across as sharp-edged and a bit brazen, in a good way. So if you can get what’s there off the disc and you’re a Janacek fan, it’s really not to be missed. As a nearly transparent window onto the CPO’s playing, as well for as Kosler’s natural way with this wonderfully humanistic yet transcendent music, I haven’t heard anything quite like it.

Comparing “Sinfonietta” with the Ancerl Edition’s, there’s way (way!) more clarity and detail; even though Kosler’s tempos generally aren’t as fleet the music just shines forth. However, Mackerras (CPO, early 2000s) is more naturally mic’d, better balanced timbrally and spatially, and is also conducted and performed with the keen interpretive vigour and responsiveness to the music’s moods that he was known for in Janacek – and the redbook sound conveys it all coherently. You can get 5 CDs’ worth of Mackerras’s Janacek and Martinu on Supraphon’s “Life with Czech Music” box, and it will cost about the same as ordering this SACD from Japan.

There’s an appreciation of Zdenek Kosler (1928-1995) here:’s+do+it+properly+first+and+only+then+be+slavs.-a0139914110

(Reviewed in stereo.)

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