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Diary Of One Who Disappeared/1
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|1. 15 Moravian Folk Songs|
|3. Intimate Sketches|
|4. The Diary of One Who Disappeared|
When Ian Bostridge sang Janácek's haunting 30-minute narrative--half song-cycle, half operatic miniature--for a pretentious National Theatre staging somehow stretched by Deborah Warner into a whole evening event, the pianist was his regular accompanist Julius Drake. And if you listened with your eyes shut it was wonderful: a partnership that begged commemoration on CD. For this release, though, Drake has been dropped in favour of the more fashionable and high-profile Thomas Adès who, you might think, justifies the switch through the distinctive, thoughtful musicality of his playing. Something of a Janácek specialist, he fills up the remainder the disc with a selection from the composer's autobiographical miniatures for piano: pieces that read frustratingly like scribbles in a margin and need all the atmospheric detail Adès can supply (as he does, with a vengeance) to communicate. But it's The Diary of One Who Disappeared that will sell the disc; and saving reservations about Bostridge's ability to sustain the sexual charge in music heavy with the dark, destructive power of love, it's beautifully done, with the intensity and sharp verbal intelligence we've all learned to expect from so immaculate a singer. --Michael White
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Janácek's 'The Diary of One Who Disappeared' is related to his operas in the dramatic intensity of the writing. Composed as his only song cycle the work is designated 'song cycle for mezzo-soprano, tenor, female chorus & piano' but in reality it is primarily a work for tenor and piano. In the hands of Ian Bostridge, whose Czech pronunciation is wholly convincing, the plight of the young man who leaves both family and town behind to follow the love for a gypsy is full of folk melodies and intense passion. Brilliant composer/conductor/pianist Thomas Adés provides the sensitive collaboration and the two are joined by mezzo Ruby Philogene as the gypsy and as part of the three voice female chorus offstage along with Diane Atherton and Deryn Edwards. This is a deeply moving work and the performance is first rate.
Filling out the recital Thomas Adés performs Janácek's works for piano, including excerpts from 'Intimate Sketches' and 'Moravian Folk songs'. His playing is subtle, intuitive and he finds all the quirky rhythms and soulful melodies inherent in Janácek's writing. Adés continues to be an outstanding piano soloist as well as one of the most important composers today. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, February 06
This disk contains his only surviving song cycle - which is really a kind of song drama. It is based on some poems that appeared in a newspaper and caught the composer's eye. He clipped them out and took them with him on a trip to a spa and began working on the songs. The poems were published anonymously and were ostensibly by a rustic farm boy who is lured away by a gypsy and is never heard from again. It turns out they were by Ozef Kalda (the pseudonym of Josef Kalda (1871-1921). The songs are mostly for the tenor, but the gypsy makes her appearance, as do three female voices urging the boy to follow the gypsy. Ian Bostridge is superb as the rustic who disappeared and Ruby Philogene is fine as the gypsy.
The pianist, Thomas Adès, not only accompanies the song cycle, he also plays some wonderful solo pieces. One set is of piano pieces based on Moravian folk songs and then there is a set of miscellaneous pieces. All are quite short, but very expressive. Adès is a fine and expressive artist.
The disk concludes with earlier versions of two of the songs from the song cycle.
I think it is always good to stretch your musical experience. This music is quite different than the German, Italian, French art music and song writing that you are probably more used to hearing. This music, while certainly tonal, is quite different in harmonic language, melodic angularity and spacing. Enjoy!
As a song cycle (if we count it as one) I am prepared to defend the claim that it is rivaled only by Die Schöne Müllerin. It also requires something of the same qualities from the performers (although Janacek's songs require a different set of means). And Ian Bostridge does indeed manage to create the same mixture of emotion, spirit, power and reflection that he has earlier brought to Schubert's masterpiece - I cannot imagine a more compelling performance than this. Ruby Philogene is equally impressive in the mezzo part. The distant chorus is wonderful as well, though I can understand the complaints that it is too distantly recorded (though I would add that in my opinion it achieves exactly the effect it should). Neither do I see any possible, serious complaints about Thomas Adès's piano playing, and the piano is to a large extent an equal partner in this work.
To fill out the disc we get earlier versions of two of the songs and some Moravian Folksongs for piano and a few miniatures - trifles, perhaps, but full of Janacek's trademark quirkiness and striking plays with moods and colors. In short, this is a splendid recording of an undeniable masterpiece - perhaps the best around (though my knowledge of the alternatives is limited) and certainly recommended with all possible enthusiasm.