Academic journal article Notes

Two Versions of Janacek's Glagolitic Mass

Academic journal article Notes

Two Versions of Janacek's Glagolitic Mass

Article excerpt

Leos Janacek. Glagolska Mse = Glagolitic Mass. Edited by Leos Faltus and Jiri Zahradka. (Leos Janacek: Souborne kriticke vydani, Rada B / Svazek 5-1 = Complete Critical Edition, Series B / Volume 5-1.) Prague: Barenreiter, 2011. [Introd. in Czech, Ger., Eng., Fre., and Russian, p. ix--liv; score, p. 1-176; Vydavatelska Zprava = Kritischer Bericht, p. 179-99. ISMN 979-0-2601-0530-0. [euro]264.]

Leos janacek. Glagolska Mse, Verze zafi 1927" = Glagolitic Mass, "September 1927" Version. Edited by Jiri Zahradka. (Leos Janacek: Souborne kriticke vydani, Rada B / Svazek 5-11 = Complete Critical Edition, Series B / Volume 5-II.) Prague: Barenreiter, 2011. [Score, p. 1-179. ISMN 979-0-2601-0531-7. [euro]198.]

Not long ago, janiZek was relegated to the ranks of composers who needed editorial help to enable satisfactory performances of their works. It was well known that two of his major operas. Jeji pastorkpia (Jenufa) and Z mrtviho domu (From the House of the Dead), were routinely performed in considerably redacted versions, and that the great Czech conductor, Vliclav Talich, conducted two mature operas, Kara Kabanova and Prihody lisky Aystrouiky (The Cunning Little Vixen), in "retouched" versions. A glance at jamit'ck's perilously high writing for violins or unreasonably fast trombones would seem to confirm the image of a composer with little sense of what. was practical and achievable in orchestral music.

But as performances of his works became more common and players more accustomed to grappling with them, the realization grew that difficulty and risk-taking were part of JanRek's compositional makeup and that passages which had initially presented problems were, over time, found to be tricky but feasible. Talich later recanted his views, as he confessed to jaroslav Vogel ("We wanted to help him [JaniZek I. and he instead crushed us all," Led pniiiA, [Prague: Artia, 1981], 387 n.t). Jewilla, played for over sixty years in Karel Kovafovic's revision and reorchestration (the only performance material then available), was, with Charles Mackerras's groundbreaking recording of 1983 (released on compact disc in 1985 [Decca 414 483-2]), at last heard in something like the version that JaniZek himself left. It began to be realized that Janaeek's acceptance of Kovaiovic's version for the triumphant Prague premiere of 1916 was a matter of realpolitik rather than conviction. After Kovakovic's death Janieek roundly denounced the version, but his publishers were in no mood to replace what seemed to them a highly successful edition, and it was another seventy-five years before they published Janaeek's version (the "Brno 1908" edition). Similarly it began to be accepted that the edition of JaniZek's final opera From the House of the Dead that his students concocted after his death arose from a misunderstanding of the spare and dramatically innovative score that Jandeek left on his desk: that it was not incomplete ("just a sketch") or the product of muddled old age but a fully-thought-through creation that reflected Jamidek's increasing desire to pare his music down to a minimum.

In the light of such developments it was perfectly reasonable for the Cambridge musicologist Paul Wingfield to examine the performing materials of a major nonoper-atic work, the Glagolskei ink (Glagolitic Mass), to see whether the published version reflected JanaCek's intentions. Wingfield's research turned into a major project resulting in a book (Jana* Glagolitic Mass, Cambridge Music Handbooks [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992]) and a new edition that was taken up by the original publishers, Universal Edition of Vienna, and made available to stand alongside their standard edition. The justification for his edition appears in the published piano-vocal score (most recently reissued in 2010) and in the study score (2009), the latter the source of the following quote:

  The composer was apparently forced to make major revisions
  during rehearsals for the mass's premiere (5 December 1927)
  owing to a lack of instrumental resources and the limited
  rehearsal time available, and some additional questionable
  changes seem to have been made prior to the second performance
  in Prague (8 April 1928). … 
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