Even though the international reputation of Leoš Janáček was first and foremost built round his operas, it would be regrettable to neglect his choral and
instrumental works in which the Moravian composer gave us some of the most beautiful pages of his art. Slavic soul - of that there is no doubt -, he charms with his unique stylistic originality, nurtured on popular culture and folklore.
Under the sure, inspired conducting of Reinbert de Leeuw, the Collegium Vocale Gent and Het Collectief ensemble combine choral works and purely instrumental music: From Potulný šílenec (The Wandering Madman) to the Piano Sonata ‘1.X.1905’, arranged by the Dutch conductor for thirteen instruments, by way of the famous Říkadla or Elegie na smrt dcery Olgy (Elegy on the Death of my Daughter Olga), Reinbert de Leeuw transmits naturally his love of the composer and inspires his musicians with an infectious poetic energy.
"Reinbert de Leeuw takes us past beautiful to outright genius"
"If the Czech composer Leos Janácek had died when he was 50, so his fellow countryman Milan Kundera wrote, then he would merely have made it to a footnote in the history of music. When he turned 50 Janácek however lived for 24 more years and composed stunning and willful masterpieces. The path from beautiful to outright genius can be perfectly traced under the guidance of Reinbert de Leeuw. The conductor outlined it from Flanders where he could make use of the voices of the choir of Collegium Vocale Gent and the instruments of Het Collectief.
In the arrangement from de Leeuw of the piano piece 1.X.1905 you can hear the typical Janácek rythms being blown in by the wind sounding like a prisoner rattling his chains.
Just as beautiful is Ríkadla, the nursery rhyms about a dog that broke his tail and the woman who fell into the soup. They are cross and obsessive sounds from a senior person who cherished a grim smile right to his last gasp."