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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67517
Recording details: January 2005
Caird Hall, Dundee, Scotland
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: September 2005
Total duration: 18 minutes 41 seconds

'The gifted young Israeli conductor Ilan Volkov masterminds a laudably disciplined and full-throated account of this bracing rarity … Hyperion's glowing natural sound-frame (courtesy of the Keener/Eadon production team working within Dundee's Caird Hall) sets the seal on a first-rate anthology' (Gramophone)

'Elizabeth Layton contributes silvery violin solos, and under its young Chief Conductor Ilan Volkov, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra is idiomatic and incisive … Warmly recommended' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The Eternal Gospel dates from 1913, and so is mature Janácek, sharing much with the sound world of his operas. As this sympathetic performance shows, it's a piece that has been cruelly neglected' (The Independent)

'This is a must for any Janácek fanatic. Not only does it contain a selection of his works rarely, if at all, found elsewhere, but also the performances and recording are superb in almost every way' (The Daily Telegraph)

'On this exemplary new Hyperion disc one almost feels one is hearing [them] properly for the first time. Ilan Volkov is an utterly convincing, idiomatic interpreter; and the recording, throughout the whole programme, is of demonstration standard … Enthusiastically recommended' (International Record Review)

'The Eternal Gospel is dynamite; if you care about Janácek's music you should have this' (Fanfare, USA)

'Janácek's 1913 cantata should be far better known, and certainly will be when word gets round about this ecstatic performance from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Edinburgh Festival Chorus under the inspirational Volkov. The music surges with lyricism—and complements the instrumental voice of the other Janácek rarities on this CD' (Financial Times)

The Eternal Gospel
author of text
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
It may well have been the successful Prague performance of Amarus that served as the impetus for Janácek to compose his choral-orchestral work. The Eternal Gospel, a ‘Legend’ for soprano and tenor soloists, mixed chorus and orchestra, was written in 1913, straight after The Fiddler’s Child. The text is by Jaroslav Vrchlický and had been published in his collection Frescoes and Tapestries in 1891. The title is borrowed from The Book of Revelation (14:6): ‘Then I saw an angel flying from mid-heaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those on earth, to every race, tribe, language and nation.’ Subsequently, the title The Eternal Gospel was given to the commentary on Revelation by the medieval mystic Joachim of Fiore, the most important apocalyptic thinker of his age who was consulted by the likes of Richard the Lionheart (at Messina during the winter of 1190–91), and who died around 1201. It is Joachim of Fiore who is the central figure of Vrchlický’s poem, and his part is taken by the solo tenor in Janácek’s cantata. The solo violin and solo soprano represent the angel and his gospel of love.

This may seem an unlikely choice of subject for the resolutely agnostic Janácek, but the composer himself gave a clue to its appeal when he described the cantata’s opening theme as representing ‘open arms longing to embrace the whole world’. In short, what drew Janácek to the text was its visionary humanity rather than Joachim’s biblical exegesis. The result is a score that is full of memorable and surgingly lyrical musical ideas, ending with a joyful proclamation of the Kingdom of Love. The first performance was at the Smetana Hall in Prague on 5 September 1917. The conductor on this occasion was Jaroslav Kricka, and the soprano soloist was Gabriela Horvátová who had triumphed as the Kostelnicka in the Prague premiere of Jenufa the previous year, and who was, at the time, involved in a torrid and passionate correspondence with Janácek.

from notes by Nigel Simeone © 2005

Other albums featuring this work
'Janáček: Orchestral Music' (SACDA67517)
Janáček: Orchestral Music
Buy by post £10.50 This album is not yet available for download SACDA67517  Super-Audio CD  
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