Ančerl, Karel

Performance DetailsRelease DetailsReviews
Soprano: Agnes Giebel
Mezzo-Soprano: Věra Soukupová
Tenor: Georg Jelden
Bass-Baritone: Heinz Rehfuss

Choir: Czech Philharmonic Choir
Orchestra: Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Karel Ančerl

Date: September 14, 1966
Venue: Grande Salle du Pavillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Live Recording

Label: Tahra Records
Cat No.: TAH 660
Ančerl left behind no commercial recordings of the Requiem and this 1966 Montreux Festival performance is, so far as is known, the sole surviving example of his way with it. His Mozart recordings are well known to collectors – and include concertos for bassoon and violin (the third, with Oistrakh), horn (again, no.3) and the Piano Concerto No.23 with Czerny-Stefanska. As Tahra notes, other things have emerged such as his accompaniment to Scheiderhan in the Turkish – you can find it on Multisonic, and 1959 Dresden recordings of the Linz and Prague Symphonies. So, for a conductor who professed Mozart to be his favourite composer the resultant discography is decidedly patchy. Let’s hope more Toronto performances will be forthcoming.

None of this has any direct bearing on the Requiem performance but it does serve to show how fortunate we are that it has been preserved. It was recorded by Radio de la Suisse Romande and captures the travelling orchestra, soloists and conductor in good radio sound. The prevailing tone is reverential, broadly paced and sympathetically whole. The element of noble gravity and restraint is established early in the Kyrie – but it’s not one of over-solemn seriousness. Similarly the Dies Irae is not set forth grandiloquently or explosively rather embodying an almost classical restraint, a more consonant expressive web to join the individual movements, to bind the rhetoric securely together over its fifty-five minute span.

The brass harmonies of the Rex Tremendae are pointed with great spiritual nobility – gravely moving – and the Lachrymosa moves with a slow, beautifully measured beneficence. The joy in the women’s voices in the Domine Jesu Christe is equally palpable as is the underlying legato of the Hostias before the more dynamic and athletic brass-led incursions. The soloists make for a most effective quartet – Heinz Rehfuss justly grave in the Tuba Mirum with Agnès Giebel and Vera Soukoupova well balanced throughout; Georg Jelden is the straightforward tenor.

The disc serves as a worthy in memoriam for Ančerl, the centenary of whose birth in 1908 was marked by its release.
Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International [April 9, 2009]