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  • Janacek : The Excursions of Mr Broucek
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Janacek : The Excursions of Mr Broucek Box set

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Product details

  • Audio CD (4 Feb. 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B000YKE8KY
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 287,957 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Disc 2
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Album Only
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Product Description

BBC Review

When it comes to recordings, this is the least-favoured of Leos Janacek's operas: The Excursions Of Mr Broucek. It's effectively two dramas, and two Excursions: one to the moon, one to 15th century Prague!Janacek's operatic reactions to the satirical stories of Svatopluk Cech, which due to various disagreements with librettists, took the composer nine years to complete. So where does it fit? Between Jenufa, and the finale great operatic flowering that began with Katya Kabanova - but Broucek's Excursions are unlike anything that came before or since; comic, yes, but also serious, patriotic, and often wonderfully scored.

Broucek doesn't seem to get out much, either onstage or on disc. It's missing from the Decca cycle of Janacek operas conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras, and this new one is a first for two reasons: it's the first digital recording, and also the first account on disc of a new edition of the opera made by Janacek authority Jiri Zahradka!both of which probably make this a compulsory purchase for committed Janacek-ians. But there's another reason to take it seriously; the recording was made live at the Barbican in February 2007, and if you read the reviews at the time, or heard the broadcast on BBC Radio 3, you'll have gathered that something special happened. It comes across on the CDs as well: Jiri Belohlavek conducting the BBC Singers and BBC Symphony Orchestra, and an almost entirely Czech cast who throw themselves into their roles with vitality, and understanding. Broucek is sung by Jan Vacik, and after his drunken proposal to his tenant's girlfriend, and beer-fuelled flight of fantasy, Vacik is a delicious foil to the lunar luvvies, horrifying them with his enthusiasm for sausage, beer and dumplings rather than high art and flower-sniffing. Belohlavek's handling of Janacek's gorgeous Interlude as Broucek returns to earth is as magical as it ought to be.

In the second part, to his horror, an earthbound Broucek is transported to the past, caught up in the battle for 15th century Prague: Hussite hymns and heroism, plus bagpipes and an organ adding an edge to the orchestration. Here's heartfelt patriotism, and a celebratory setting of real grandeur from Janacek, and it's greatly to everyone's credit that it doesn't feel like a concert performance.

This may not be the last recorded word on Broucek, but right now it sounds like a major improvement on what we've had before: the strength and depth of the cast, and most of all the sound quality, and Belohlavek's feel for the tenderness, humour and romance of one of Janacek's least appreciated, yet most original dramas. --Andrew McGregor

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brian De Snail on 31 Oct. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I was at the (London) Barbican concert at which this recording was made and left the hall thinking: That was so special it ought to be issued on disc. Only this year did I discover it had been, and it is every bit as good as I remember. The comparative neglect of this opera is incomprehensible (it was even omitted from Mackerras's Decca series of recordings). It is genuinely funny, full of fantasy, and speaks of the composer's deep love for his homeland and its people. Anyone who enjoys The Cunning Little Vixen will surely warm to this. Unlike earlier Czech recordings, this is from a reliably edited (by Mackerras!) version of the score. The cast of native Czech speakers is entirely satisfactory; the characterisations are vivid and the quality of the singing outstanding. Belohlavek is one of the world's most musical and dedicated conductors and here he is utterly in his element, working with the BBCSO with which he formed an excellent professional relationship. Listeners who have recently heard the LSO blasting away at the Barbican might be surprised at what a mellow and multicoloured sound the BBC orchestra produces in that hall; in fact they always have got the measure of the acoustics better than their rivals. An ideal cast, an ideal conductor, a tremendous performance, splendid recording - and a wonderful opera.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Not a mastepiece but great music 16 Sept. 2009
By R. Rockwell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I am a big fan of the operas of Janacek and this is the only comic opera of his, based on a satirical novel by Svatopalek Cech . It took Janacek almost nine years to compose. The opera's plot is very complex but centers around Mr. Broucek very well characterized by tenor Jan Vacik and a number of other characters who are sung by one person. To me, the standout was soprano Maria Hajan who sing three different characters to perfection. Janacek is well known for his mastery of the chorus and the BBC Singers and the Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jiri Belohlavek creates a charming live opera that is a lot of fun to listen to. Janacek as a Czech nationalist uses a lot of folk song. The orchestral interludes especialy whe the action switches from the moon to the earth. contain some of Janacek's best music.. Like Osud this opera does have some flaws but the but there is so much beautiful music they are easy to ignore. Highly recommended by anyone interested in opera.
Please excuse any typos I have a neurologic disease.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Janácek: The Excursions of Mr. Broucek 12 Sept. 2012
By Bjorn Viberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Janácek: The Excursions of Mr. Broucek is a 2008 Deutsche Grammophon recording under direction of Jiri Belohlavek who leads the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Stephan Betteridge leads the BBC Singers. The booklet contains not only all the lyrics, also short biographies of the performers and well-written music notes. Maria Hahn is great in the role as Malinka. Truly a magnificent recording that I truly enjoyed listening to. Highly recommended. 5/5.
4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
bravo. 14 Jun. 2009
By Dorothy Patton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
BRAVO. AT LAST YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO HEAR A LONG LOST MASTERPIECE -LOADS OF FUN. THFC
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