I knew Janacek's 'Sinfonietta' and 'Taras Bulba' when I approached this work 25 or so years ago. The idiom is very individual and I listened two or three times without feeling 'connected'. Then suddenly it all fell into place, and ever since I have found this opera more viscerally moving than any other. It has, as a Penguin Guide reviewer wrote, a 'matchless emotional punch', with its curious, sometimes angular, sometimes very lyrical short phrases, its repetitions, its weird orchestration. The story is primitive and ugly, frankly, but it has a strange realness that makes it work, and it is impossible to describe the music in words ; they just can't cope. This is a wonderful set, with Mackerras, who learned the Janacek tradition in Prague in the late 40s from Vaclav Talich and then did amazing, hard work bringing the operas to the West, and Elizabeth Soderstrom, whose very beautiful but edgy, vulnerable voice is absolutely the one for poor Jenufa, very much more sinned against than sinning. All of the cast are very good and the orchestra play as if they were born to this music, which they certainly were not. When you put all this beside the knowledge that the composer wrote the opera during the long, distressing final illness of his daughter Olga, and that he played it to her as it was composed, and that he said himself that it was born out of her and the family's suffering, you have really a unique piece ; and yet despite all that, ending as it does with hope, it is almost unbearably uplifting, despite all the odds. I can't recommend this highly enough - a wonderful performance of a unique masterwork.